I'm not entirely certain what to think of this. In many ways, it reminds me of [b:What Worse Place Can I Beg in Your Love|4827407|What Worse Place Can I Beg in Your Love?|Syd McGinley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1222650520s/4827407.jpg|4892568], but with flashes of [b:Blind Space|13128982|Blind Space|Marie Sexton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349927210s/13128982.jpg|18305045] thrown in, especially since Brasius is all "NOEZ I DON'T WANT YOU AS A MINDLESS SEX DOLL RAWR". At the same time, though, I have a hard time balancing out the fact that he expected Kynon to go through all the training and stuff but still come out "intact."It actually kind of reminds me of that saying that has a million different variations, about how the higher up they go, the farther they have to fall. In many ways, Kynon's mentality makes a lot of sense and Brasius is a stupid fuck for expecting otherwise.Actually, the entire country of whatever the hell Brasius and Rennick and Hera are from annoy me. In many ways, it reminds me of America (before you start protesting, I'd like to mention that I am American). It's all self-righteous and just because it does things differently than other countries do, it fancies itself more moral and more just. The whole "you represent your country and you shame you country" thing Hera was telling Kynon about annoyed me. It's that whole ethnocentrism thing. "We're the only ones who matter, so you should care what we think of you." Yeah, they're so awesome cuz they have a Senate and did away with the hereditary nobility thing *rolls eyes.Anyways, back to the story. Brasius annoys me. His ideas/ideals are stupidly contradictory. He does something all tender and "I want you for you" and then he goes and does something to jack-hammer into Kynon's mind that all he is is a tribute to be used at his master's leisure. So much stupid posturing in the presence of others.Actually, I think Brasius is extremely insecure. He's got that "fuck the world" attitude, but he also seems to conform very closely to what his peers do. “Do you know why I asked you to play chess tonight?” Brasius rubbed his cheek against Kynon’s ear, and Kynon felt the scratch of stubble. “Why I chose Lindus’s tribute to play with you? I do these things to draw out my enemies. Because the prince of Caralis is my enemy, and the soldier of Caralis is my enemy. I want to rid you of them.”Yes, I suppose it all seems very logical to him, and this might work for others, but this doesn't work for me. On the surface, it's very deconstructive in a "I want the essence of you" sort of way, but it's also a mutually exclusive "I ONLY want the essence of you" sort of way. It's very Camus-daisy-theory in that he wants to break Kynon of all the roles that bind his life, but at the same, time, Brasius is trying to attach his own petals. He professes that he just wants Kynon for Kynon, but all his actions indicate that he wants Kynon the tribute exclusively, which was something trained into Kynon and thus does not come naturally.And then later on, when Kynon starts to grow more confident after the test or w/e. I don't see where that comes from at all. It was the right thing to happen at that time in the development, but there didn't seem to be a basis for that development. It just...happened.I actually think, weirdly enough, Hera was the most real character out of all of them. For some reason, the rest of 'em just felt contrived. Oh, Kynon had his moments, but then something would happen that fit the ideal development but didn't really make sense development-wise.Overall, there's too much of the whole "well, it could have been worse" mentality for my liking for it to be a genuine romance. That's like saying, "well, my husband only hits me when he's drunk as opposed to hitting me all the time, so he treats me well." I get the whole idea of making the best out of a bad situation, but for me, that's not basis for romance. It rings of codependency and dysfunctionality, which is weird because I'd be the first to say that society is overrated.And for some reason, people really like that horse analogy when dealing with slaves... (is that cuz horses are also enslaved? Makes me think of Black Beauty in a whole new light...)And then, oh, hallelujah. Somehow, he began to reconcile the voices of the son, the prince, and the soldier to himself again. Brasius was wrong. He didn’t have to rid himself of them. He couldn’t rid himself of them.Actually, all in all, I think it does reach a point where it all works. The [b:Concubine|8822493|Concubine|Jill Knowles|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1281414187s/8822493.jpg|13696837] point. The way it was reached was weird and dysfunctional and the end result still has hints of that, but I think all in all, some sort of working equilibrium was reached, a sort of equilibrium that has...potential? Something.And then it ends with the Healing Power of Sex =_= Oh, god. And then the end scene. I'd forgotten about the end scene. Okay, the end sex scene and the final end scene just ruined it for me.I contemplated giving it a higher rating, but I think I'll keep it at 2. Probably a 2.5, rounded down because I...rather disliked the ending.It's weird and good/has good points, but the overall thing just didn't work as a romance for me. There are flashes of it, but it still seems Stockholm/codependent to me on Kynon's part, annoying contradictory and self-righteous on Brasius' part, and a fuckload of ethnocentric bullshit from Segasa in general that Kynon's mother ends up catering to. Yeah, maybe I'm a self-righteous little w.e who values true free will too much to just chill and enjoy this book, but I think ultimately, the worst part for me is that in the end, the whole thing is more hypothetical imperative than categorical, yet either attempts to be or pretends to be true categorical imperative and I resent that. The posturing is always the worst part for me.