Kai Ashante Wilson

A Taste of Honey

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A Taste of Honey Summary

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A Taste of Honey is a romantic fantasy novella by Kai Ashante Wilson. The novel is set in a fantasy world, where gods and men mingle, and dragons have come to the capitol Daluca. The main characters in the novel are Aqib bgm Sadiqi, a fourth-cousin of the royal family and the son of the prestigious Master of Beasts, and a Dalucan soldier named Lucrio. The novel follows their whirlwind gay romance, as the two men struggle against the forces pinned against them, including the denunciation of their Saintly Canon and the disapproval of Aqib’s father and brother. The book is a follow-up novel to the acclaimed Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, which is set in the same world but features new characters.

The novel begins with Aqib, who lives in Great Olorum with the royal family, his distant cousins. Aqib has been chosen to become the next Master of Beasts. The world in which Aqib lives is one of strict religious following; the Saintly Canons are the primary text, and the world is governed by their teachings. Similarly, gods often interfere with the lives of humans, and are part of the governing body of Great Olorum. It is a fragile world, with powerful men and women whose abilities are well beyond those of normal humans.

Aqib’s life is thrown into chaos when a troupe of Dalucan soldiers arrive from the capitol, and Aqib falls madly in love with Lucrio, one of the soldiers guarding the embassy. But, in this world, sexual relationships between men are not only scandalous, they are forbidden by the Saintly Canon. Aqib and Lucrio cannot resist their love for one another, and soon find themselves deep in a forbidden affair. But there is more than one catch in this romance – besides the obvious struggle to keep their love secret from Aqib’s disapproving father and abusive older brother, Lucrio has to return to Daluca in only ten days. Neither man can figure out how their romance will stay alive if they are separated from each other so soon after meeting.

The novel has a non-linear structure, with scenes that take place during Aqib and Lucrio’s initial ten day romance, and scenes set much farther in the future. These future scenes reveal a sad reality – Aqib is married to a woman higher in the royal hierarchy than himself, and they have a daughter together. Aqib’s wife is a mathematical savant, and their daughter is growing into an independent young woman – though she does show some indication that she many share her father’s romantic leanings. In this future world, Aqib doesn’t remember his lover Lucrio – his wife has intervened and with the help of a god has created a “treatment” for Aqib that allows him to live his life peacefully, without the pain of recalling his lost love.

The surprise plot twist is revealed at the end, when the future narrative that readers assume is the actual future of Aqib’s life turns out to be a projection created by a talented Sibyl. In reality, Aqib chose Lucrio all along, and traveled with him back to Daluca to continue their romance. Aqib asked the Sibyl to show him what this future would look like if he had chosen differently, so he could be sure he made the right decision all those years ago. After watching his alternative futures play out before him, Aqib becomes more and more certain that he made the right choice following his lover Lucrio, despite the challenges they faced and continue to face together, and all that Aqib gave up to be with him.

The novel plays out two sides of the same life – an Aqib who chose his family, his religion, and loyalty to his chosen future above love and passion and a truer version of himself, versus an Aqib who gives up everything to pursue the man he loves. Ultimately, Aqib is happier knowing that he chose to be true to himself and his true love.

Kai Ashante Wilson is the author of a number of fantasy novellas and short stories, including “Super Bass,” “The Devil in America,” and the novella Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. A Taste of Honey was nominated for a Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, and a Locus Award, and was named one of BookRiot’s “Best Books We Read in November.” The novella was published by Tor.com. Wilson won the Crawford Award for Best First Novel in 2016, and was a 2010 Octavia Butler Scholar at the Clarion Writing Workshop.