Set in prehistoric times, the novel contains a number of conflicts. The hill people are battling the valley people. The prince of the valley group is in competition with a rival in the coming of age games, as well as for suitor of a young woman’s hand. Her brother conflicts with the king, who has declared the prince and this girl cannot marry. He refuses to give a reason. It is determined they are not brother and sister, so it is a mystery why they can’t wed.
This same brother is also in love with the prince, part of a strong gay theme in the book. He also falls for another man who is already committed to his lover. Eventually the brother meets one of the hill people and begins a relationship. There are no gay female pairings, but mention is made that they exist.
The central thrust of the book is the brother’s attempts to get the prince and his sister married. A secondary plot revolves around reconciling the hill and valley groups by recognizing their similarities, such as language. Hill people claim valley people stole their land, which was promised to them by the gods, while Valley people say the land was given to them by the same gods.
This book received a first place award in the Gay and Lesbian and Transgender Fiction category in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards competition and has been compared to Jean Auel’s work. The style is formal, with mostly declarative sentences explaining various aspects of the history and workings of each society. It does come across as a bit flat initially and the reader may have to keep referring back to a glossary of names to determine characters. The names are appropriate for the time period. Tall Oak is the king, Morning Sun, the prince, Rose Leaf, the girl he wants to marry, Blue Sky, her brother who drives much of the action, Green Field, the farmer who saved the king, plus Law Keeper, Gentle Brook, Early Harvest, Fair Judge, Rainbow Evening etc. You get the idea.
The secret as to why the king doesn’t want these two to marry is eventually revealed and it makes logical sense. There was, however, too much repetition regarding Blue Sky’s repeated demands to know said reason, as well as repeat explanations to different characters regarding issues that the reader has already had explained.
This could be a ground breaking YA book, one of the few that addresses a gay theme. Without being able to employ colloquialisms or slang because of the time period, the author has to use the more formal style. But the first sentence basically sums up the entire central conflict right out of the box. That’s not the purpose of first sentences.
The pace and readability of PROMISED VALLEY REBELLION improves as more information is revealed through dialogue. The ending is satisfying.
Reviewed by Joe Del Priore for IndieReader.