Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Courtesan Prince by Lynda Williams
A Book Review by Valerie Coskrey

I recently discovered a new science fiction universe to explore. The deftly built Okal Rel Universe is visited through the books of the Okal Rel Saga by Lynda Williams and her proteges. The central character of the saga is introduced in The Courtesan Prince as Von who is, well, a popular gigolo of the royal ladies of the court. He is also a young man who was stolen at birth and is just discovering his specialized genotypic heritage. He is, unbeknownst to anyone, a Sevolite, genetically engineered and of royal descent.

In a society with legal prostitution, courtesans are used openly by society's elite. This is the story of how one such man becomes a popular lover, a valued friend, a protector of children, and a spaceship pilot. It is the story of a society in chaos and of its promise of better days with a new leader. It is a story of how contact between planetary societies is reestablished after centuries of mutual avoidance following a destructive war. And, finally, it is the story of the relationships that are possible when society sets artificial taboos on who is allowed to love and what types of sex are permissible.

It is not a story rife with explicit descriptions of sexual acts, but there are numerous sexual encounters and the development of a few romantic-love relationships. There is an underlying theme of the consequences of abuse and the victim's emotional growth needed to cope with an abusive past and present. The book has numerous characters allowing for a variety of stories to be told and relationships to be examined, from both homosexual and heterosexual perspectives; from the ugliness of abuse to the passivity of prostitution, to the passion of infatuation, to the caring of friendship and the love of mates.

Lynda Williams builds a cohesive universe populated with real people in real, slightly dysfunctional societies, with believable interactions and adventures. It is an action-packed adventure with sword fights, politics, murder, spaceship battles, justice and betrayals.

I enjoyed it and plan to read the others in the series. The Okal Rel series spans about 15 books to date, including some written by proteges of Lynda Williams. They can be purchased through; but to get the list of all books available, visit the Okal Rel Universe website.


Much of this text is also in my blog Dirt Poor Books. Note: I updated the Amazon links and added labels to this post in July of 2014. Lynda Williams had written several books since then, and has greatly advanced the saga.


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- David

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