Adares, the young archon of Tios, seems doomed to die of thirst and starvation on the battlefield outside of the city he only recently was elected ruler of. He’s not seriously hurt but he’s trapped under his horse and the ruins of a seige cart. Just as he is pretty much resigned to his fate, he’s pulled out of his predicament by Rus, a young priest-warrior from the attacking Luth tribe. Rus' leg was pierced by a poison arrow and has been left to die on the battlefield. Fortunately, Adares knows how to treat Rus' wound, so together they limp to a nearby deserted temple where Adares finds the antidote and returns the favor of saving Rus. It’s the start of a relationship that can’t possibly last.
“Something Human” is set in the same fantasy world based on ancient Greece as Sword Dance. Adares is from the “civilized” Phemian culture which is the dominant power in the area. The Luth tribe seems to be a mix of Thracian and Minoan cultures, with perhaps a smattering of northern European paganism. The inspirations may be been a bit of a mish-mash, but it’s all woven together quite well to paint a vivid picture of an imaginary ancient culture that’s relatable enough to understand and believe.
Both Rus and Adares are very well defined and believable characters. Having already read “Sword Dance”, Adares easily fits the mold of a Phemian (read: ancient Greek) citizen, high born and with a deeply ingrained sense of honor. To Adares, Rus is one of the many “barbarians” that he must win over, or conquer, but while the Luth have a very different culture from the Pheme, Rus is definitely not a barbarian and is constantly surprising Adares with his knowledge. The two characters play off each other very well, which makes the growing attraction between them quite real and natural.
The book has quite an interesting structure. Without giving too much away, it appears to end, in a classic tragedy form, in the middle. But of course it doesn’t end there yet it’s still not clear how our two heroes can reunite and overcome the cultural differences that separate them.
“Something Human” is available from Amazon.