Thank you to Netgalley and Tor publishing for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
The Goblin Emperor meets “Magnificent Century” in Alexandra Rowland’s A Taste of Gold and Iron, where a queer central romance unfolds in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire.
Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.
To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.
A Taste of Gold and Iron was a book I was looking forward to IMMENSELY this year. When I got approved for an ARC last week, I may have screamed a little out loud. I feel absolutely no shame about that because this book has ONE HUNDRED PERCENT lived up to the hype. What hype, you might ask? Well, this book (and its absolutely gorgeous cover) has been making the rounds on fandom Twitter as a book to watch out for. Even the author has been hyping up their own work — AS THEY SHOULD. Oh my god, as they should.
A Taste of Gold and Iron takes place in a fictional country named Arasht that is ruled by a lady-sultan. Her adult brother, Kadou, is an anxious adorable cinnamon roll. For the first bit of the novel, he comes across as a little bit spineless, a lot squishy, and in need of some serious comfort. As you read, it becomes very obvious that Kadou is anything but spineless.
Through a series of events that I won’t spoil, Evemer becomes Kadou’s bodyguard. Evemer is a serious, duty-before-all sort of man who doesn’t think very much of his new charge. This changes, of course, and they end up in an absolutely adorable will-they-won’t-they tangle. I am happy to report that oh yes they do. The romance in A Taste of Gold and Iron reminds me of the best fanfictions out there. There’s pining, and there’s the whole oh-they-can’t-love-me-I’m-worthless/undeserving thing. There’s the only one bed trope, Evemer and Kadou wash each other’s hair, they “fake” kiss to disguise themselves, and a million other cute tropey things. There are so many absolutely delicious tropes in this book.
Alexandra Rowland has created an absolute masterpiece of a world in Arasht. My favorite bit of world building is the fact that gender is not binary. There are men, women, and a third nonbinary gender as well. Men wear long hair, jewelry, and make up. Marriage can be between anyone without any issue. Arasht is ruled by a female sultan who doesn’t have to marry if she doesn’t want to, in fact it’s better for the throne if she doesn’t. The captain of the guard is a badass older woman.
Many, many people have compared A Taste of Gold and Iron to The Goblin Emperor, but I don’t see that as an appropriate comparison at all. I hated The Goblin Emperor because it was boring, hard to understand, and everyone had a name that started with the same letter. I couldn’t follow anything in that novel without backtracking a million times to double check myself. A Taste of Gold and Iron has absolutely none of those issues. The book has plenty of action, and while the world is completely fictional, it is extremely easy to follow.
I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can recommend it to absolutely everyone I know. This is going to be the next big fandom out there. Kadou and Evemer are extremely shippable and I can just see their numbers on AO3 going up, up, up.
A Taste of Gold and Iron comes out August 30, 2022.
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