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REVIEW: The Demon Of Hagermarsh, By Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Title: The Demon of Hagermarsh

Series: Virasana Empire: Sir Yaden Book One

Author: Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Genre: Sci Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Publisher: Self

Pages: 276

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”

Many consider the catchphrase of the imperial Lotus Knights to be nothing more but well-polished propaganda, but for Yaden, it is a way of life.

A young Lotus Knight himself, his first mission in service of the Emperor sends him to the remote village of Hagermarsh, a suspiciously friendly place on a planet known for its inhospitable people. But how to uncover a demonist coven when nothing bad ever happens?
Getting to know the villagers only complicates things – the motherly fishmonger surely isn’t a demonist. Nor the gruff leader of the local militia. And definitely not the cute baker from across the street.

Or are they?

Come discover a dazzling, hopeful universe of knights and monsters, of psions, aliens and ancient deities! The Demon of Hagermarsh is the first book of ‘Sir Yaden’, an epic SF saga of grand adventure, romance, bromance and family, set in the multi-faceted Virasana Empire. It is a romantic adventure and can be read as a standalone.

The Review

“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”

With that bland, propaganda-like statement, Mr. and Mrs. Brackhaus introduce us to a world that seems to be a mashup of every kind of fantasy we’ve ever known. It is Game of Thrones meets Star Wars meets Harry Potter. There are medieval fortresses on volcano-ridden planets and shopping malls with movie theaters on lush tropical islands. It is a world with electricity and human slavery, with interplanetary teleportation and combustion engines. To pull off this sort of all-embracing vision, it takes a careful writer who can manage details and keep track of things. At first, I giggled at the absurdity of it all, but I was pretty quickly sucked into the rather gentle dream that Beryll and Osiris have created for us.

Yaden Quetzal is all of five when he and his shocked parents discover that he has the power to quell volcanoes and calm earthquakes. This is useful on his volatile home planet of Erys, where his parents are Vivaine and Giano Quetzal, Duke and Duchess of Erys, close relatives of the Virasana Emperor. Little Yaden is the most powerful psion in all humanity. 

So, his mother, not knowing what else to do, decides to buy him a slave. 

Darios, a failed gladiator on a planet where slavery is big business in a strangely modern way, becomes both Yaden’s guardian and one of the two narrators of this adventure. Darios accompanies the twenty-three-year-old Yaden, now an imperial Lotus Knight, to go undercover to the hostile, gray planet of Leichnam (which we are told means corpse). There, disguised as tradesmen, they must investigate an aura of demonism that hangs over the little gray fishing town of Hagermarsh.

The central jewel in this story is the relationship between the slave Darios and his owner Yaden. Theirs is the love of father and child, admixed with that of close friends. The entire book is peppered with Darios’ memories, explaining both Yaden’s background and the development of their life together. The Hagermarsh adventure itself seems largely mild and almost comical, until it isn’t. In this part of the narrative we get to witness the Yaden that Darios has raised, from terrified, lonely, underfed boy to super-hero-in-training. Yaden is ever hesitant, always wondering if he’s up to the task; and always looks to Darios for reassurance and tenderness. Yaden knows how powerful he is but is in no way cocky or arrogant. Like the catchphrase of the Emperor, Yaden truly cares, not only about the people of the empire, but the planets themselves. 

To complicate their investigation, Yaden begins to feel love and attraction for the first time in his life, falling for the pretty baker Colin, whose shop is across the street. Once again, it is to Darios that he turns for advice and reassurance. It all seems far too gentle and cozy, until push comes to shove and Yaden is at last called upon to demonstrate his true mettle. 

I really loved the writing here, the wide-eyed, curious tone that the Brackhauses give to the narrative, and the delight in throwing in detail after detail. I loved the profound affection that binds Darios and Yaden. Of course, I also loved both of these characters very much individually, because one rarely meets such purely good-hearted people in interplanetary empires. 

I bought the second book in the Sir Yaden series without even reading the blurb. This is a world I want to get to know better. 

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.

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