Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Power and Majesty

a review by Nalini Haynes

The short version: Power and Majesty won its category for the Aurealis Award, Australia’s most prestigious judged award for SF and Fantasy as well as the Ditmar (people’s choice) Award.

The long version: Velody, Delphine and Rhain are three young women who moved to Aufleur, a city in an alternate world version of Italy, to take up apprenticeships. Velody wakes up one night to see Garnet fall out of the sky. Garnet, a member of the fae Creature Court, took Velody’s animor, the spiritual essence that made her fae. Years later Garnet has risen to be the king of kings, called Power and Majesty in the Creature Court, only to be sucked into a rift in the sky during a battle. Just before he was sucked into the rift, Garnet released Velody’s animor and that of Ashiol, another member of the Creature Court. Velody and Ashiol become the only two kings of the Creature Court and one must become Power and Majesty, ruling the court in order to defend the city against the sky. If the Creature Court loses the battle with the sky, the city will be sucked up into the sky and all memory of the city and its inhabitants will be lost to daylight folk living elsewhere.

The Creature Court comprises several ranks of fae and even some mortals, all of whom have agendas, most of whom are completely self-involved and more than a little insane. Character development partially focuses on Velody and her friends’ journey of discovery of the Creature Court and how they respond to these new relationships. The Creature Court itself is Machiavellian, brutal and sexually-oriented, so encounters with any Fae bring uncertainty while revealing new aspects of the characters.

Opening with the establishment of characters Velody, Delphine and Rhain, swiftly followed by the revelation of the sky battle and the fae where Velody lost her animor, the plot then slows slightly while other characters are introduced. This brief lull sets up the action that powers through to the finish. I had to take breaks from reading but I couldn’t wait to get back to finish the story.

There are a couple of sex scenes in Power and Majesty but, although explicit, this novel does not fall into the category of paranormal romance nor do the sex scenes detract from or interrupt the storyline. While the intimate sexual encounters described are heterosexual, it is made clear that the Creature Court has no inhibitions concerning homosexual encounters.

Roberts has created an exciting new fantasy world with different kind of Fae; they are the capricious, powerful fae of legend coupled with aspects of vampirism, battling a new foe. Engaging with this story requires an effort of suspension of disbelief beyond any novel I’ve read lately. Character development was interesting, with characters for the reader to love and hate. The plot powered along with twists and turns. Power and Majesty is recommended as a wild, adult fairy story for fans of the paranormal fantasy genre.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011, blog post predated to reflect the original publication date.