The Lady of Han-Gilen
by Judith Tarr
Reviewed by Coral
This is the story of Elian, daughter of Han-Gilen's ruler and the one time foster sister of Mirain. She is a better rider, hunter and scholar than most men. She refuses all suitors who come calling, to her parents' great displeasure, because as a child she swore to marry only Mirain.
When Ziad-Ilarios, the son of the Spider Emperor, ruler of the Golden Empire comes calling as her next suitor, after one meeting, Elian worries that she may actually come to love him. And when he falls in love with her in about ten seconds, she does the only sensible thing and runs away.
Determined to keep both of her childhood promises - to fight for Mirain and to marry him - Elian runs straight to him - the man who is trying to conquer her father's realm.
She pretends to be a boy - even though almost every character who gets named or allowed dialogue realizes she's a woman - to gain access to Miraian, who recognizes her immediately and allows her to become his squire. So, even though she is a random stranger from an enemy nation who randomly popped up and is suddenly in a very close position to their king, none of Mirain's army has a problem with Elian. Because she's witty and perfect.
With Mirain determined to fulfill his father's prophecy of ruling the world, war is coming. But, luckily, Elian won't have to make any tough decisions about loyalty to the subject of a boyhood crush and her family. All she has to worry about is loving two powerful men, who both love her.
Whatever will she do?
If anyone ever needs a definition of a Mary Sue character, they won't have to look any farther that Elian. Characters need to have layers to them for them to be interesting. And being perfect all the time at everything is not "layered".
I'm a little creeped out that Mirain knew at 15 that he was going to marry 8 (9?) year old Elian. And a little more creeped out that they are still calling each other "sister" and "brother" when their feelings for each other move past the sibling territory.
This whole book was ridiculous and awful.