Foz Meadows, "A Strange and Stubborn Endurance" (Tor Books, 2022)


A Strange and Stubborn Endurance (Tor, 2022) is marketed as a historical fantasy novel, but its subtle and humane sweetness set it aside from most examples of the genre. Though it offers political intrigues and battles, it is also a compassionate exploration of a man’s recovery from assault and homophobia with the help of his new husband.

The man in question, Velasin vin Aaro, exhibits little purpose in life when we first meet him at his father’s estate. The third son of a nobleman, he’s an insecure dilettante who is forced to conduct his affairs with other men in secrecy, due to the restrictive religious beliefs of his native country. When he’s promised to a noblewoman from the neighboring country of Tithena in order to cement a new alliance, Velasin feels like he has no choice but to go along with his father’s wishes. However, when a former lover forces himself onto Velasin and the two men are discovered undressed, his preferences are revealed. Rather than dissolving the alliance, the envoy from Tithena suggests marriage to the prospective bride’s brother instead, to everyone’s surprise.

Velasin, shaken from the assault and forsaken by his father, takes his dear servant Markel and a few possessions and sets off to a country he barely knows, where his husband, Caethari, awaits him. From there on the story alternates between the two perspectives. Caethari, a well-adjusted warrior with a good understanding of boundaries, is ready to welcome his new husband, but someone else isn’t—and is trying to break up the impending union with covert attacks and attempted assassinations from various people. Even more disturbing, this conspiracy claims to be acting under the directive of the Wild Knife—Caethari’s fighting name.

Caethari and Velasin will need to work together as partners to survive—and perhaps grow into their roles as husbands in the process.

Foz Meadows is a genderqueer fantasy author with a pronounced weakness for Dragon Age, fanfic, webcomics and mornings that are so late as to technically constitute noons. She currently lives in California.

Fun Fact: Foz’ given name is Philippa. As a child she smiled all the time, so her father nicknamed her Foz, after the smiley Sesame Street character Fozzie bear. The nickname stuck.

As well as being a fantasy writer, Gabrielle Martin has a Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She lives in Switzerland where she maintains an acupuncture practice, tries to save her lettuce seedlings from ravenous slugs, and hikes over mountain passes for fun.

You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor.

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