So I requested this for Yuletide and I wrote a little fandom pimping post there, but I suppose I should say something about it generally as well, because people who read my fics probably, on average, like slashy books about loyalty and h/c.
This has been one of my most loved books for a long time. I read it in my early teens and it's sort of been formative for me along with Rosemary Sutcliff and a bunch of YA historical novels nobody else has ever heard of. It's set during the 1745 Jacobite uprising in Scotland, and our heroes are Ewen Cameron, a minor Highland clan chief, and Major Keith Wyndham, an English army officer. The book charts their meetings, their friendship, their increasing loyalty and affection for each other, and the choices it leads them to face when their friendship and their political alliegances conflict.
So much for the serious summary of the story. The fannish reasons why you should read it: so much loyalty kink. So much hurt/comfort (so much!). So much slashiness. So many conflicts of duty and conscience. Misunderstandings! Daring escapes! Fate! Adventures! Keith snarkily calling Ewen 'my Achilles' and deliberately insulting him with money!
Keith is a lonely, sardonic, cynical man who's never had a close friend. Ewen is a romantic, generous, honourable, touchily proud man who's embedded in a web of loyalty and love. Keith, naturally, is drawn to Ewen. Plus, it's Fate. I'm not sure about the Fate plotline, but there you go, it's part of the book, complete with mystic seer and significant animals and all the trimmings. They are Fated to meet five times, and Keith is Fated to do Ewen a great service, and cause him terrible pain. And that's pretty much what happens, and it's beautiful and tragic and heartbreaking and gorgeous.
And then did I mention the hurt/comfort? There's a lot of it, and it's just right. Now I love h/c as you all know, but I'm also a bit picky about it. Too little, not enough emphasis given to it, and it's frustrating, it's annoying, it's like looking at a picture of a really tasty chocolate. Too much and it's embarrassing and silly, like eating an entire box of chocolates at once. But this is absolutely spot-on. And I think I might have had a thing for one guy collapsing into another's arms before I read this book, but if you don't, you will by the time you finish.
Now before Broster wrote Heron, she wrote another book in which she plays around with all the ideas she perfects in Heron. This is The Wounded Name
, which is so OTT slashy and full of so much h/c that when I was reading it for the first time I had to keep stopping and putting it down and walking away to have a breather from the endless intensity of it all. But it's great. I mean, if you want to read about our hero admiring his beloved's beautiful hair, rescuing him from drowning, nursing him tenderly in prison for about 200 pages and then going on the run with him, sheltering him with his body in a ditch from a thunderstorm (yes, really), and generally dedicating his entire life to him, this is your book. It's so slashy the author and characters notice a few times and our hero's family say, well, he must be in love, the way he's carrying on. And he is, undoubtedly. You could fill in about a dozen sex scenes and not change a single thing about the character dynamics. It's great. It's not a brilliant book, but if you have the right buttons, it does a wild dance on top of them.
But anyway, The Flight of the Heron
is a genuinely good book that contains my ideal ratio of idtastic stuff to general story and adventure, and everyone should read it.Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/130452.html. There are comments there.