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Marilee J. Layman

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06:24 pm: Ilario: A Story of the First History, Book One: The Lion's Eye by Mary Gentle
I posted about Mary Gentle's Ash series here and this book and its sequel is set in the same world as the beginning of Ash but earlier -- only 200 years after Prophet Gundobad is killed. The protagonist, Ilario, is intersexed (called in the book: hermaphrodite, man-woman, son-daughter, daughter-son, she-male, ladyboy) and was the Court Freak in Iberia. When he is manumitted, he flees to Carthage (which is under the Penitence) where he almost immediately is raped and put back into slavery. An Egypian eunuch buys him and lets him paint when he has time, because he wants to be a painter.

He finds out his mother is trying to kill him because his mother is the wife of the King's advisor at court and it would make her and her husband look bad to be his parents. Except the husband is not his father -- she had sex with a big-deal general and if anybody gets a look at them together, they will know Honorius is his father. Honorius also shows up in Carthage, wanting to meet Ilario (and acting like a proper father), and protecting him from his mother. The Egyptian and Honorius develop a strong friendship.

The rest of the book has the three of them trying to flee and fight the assassins while Ilario/Ilaria becomes obviously pregnant and has to act as a woman (women have less power, so he usually acted like a man). At the end of this book, there is a choice of who will live -- him or the baby -- and if it was in a theatre, there would be that Dun Dun Dunnnnnn organ chord. Don't start this one unless you have the second one at hand.

I'm not finding it as engrossing as Ash, but so far, the story is good.

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