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The Fifth Son

Blaine D. Arden

Out of Print

Llyskel is the fifth son of a King, but, unlike his brothers, he doesn't have a career in politics or the military to look forward to. In a world where everyone possesses magic to some degree or other, Llyskel is powerless, unable to perform even the smallest magic-based tasks. All his life, he's been under constant guard for his own protection from the magical world around him, much to his annoyance. The only time Llyskel feels free is when he paints, where the only spells he needs are the ones he weaves with brush and paint, capturing moments of beauty and giving them immortality on canvas.

Llyskel harbors a secret wish, though, a dark desire that haunts his nights. Only Ariv, a captain in the King's army, seems to sense the truth of Llyskel's needs. The pull he feels to Llyskel is unavoidable, and the passion between them undeniable.

But Ariv isn't the only one interested in Llyskel. The Queen of a neighboring country expresses her interest in the boy's talents, but her true intent goes far beyond a love of art. And what she asks may be too high a price for any of them.

It started with a line, just one line, and before I knew it, the line became a brushstroke, a smear, a shape. Once I started with that line, I could not stop until it was done. I needed to capture every detail, every hint of movement—from the biggest tree to the tiniest flower, to the way the leaves shuddered in the wind. Whether brush or pencil, canvas or pad, I could not put my tools down until that first line had become a finished work, no matter how long it would take.

Which is how I found myself standing at the edge of the waterfall in the fast-fading sunlight.

I had chosen a spot halfway up to the waterfall when I arrived shortly after midday. The rays of sun hit the waterfall just right, creating a beautiful play of shadows as the water crashed into the shaded fen, spraying drops of light everywhere. I spent hours trying to recreate the movement, the shadows, the sparkling water. The changing light made it difficult, but that first image was so clear in my mind that I hardly had to look up from my work. Surrounded by the thundering sound of the waterfall and the smells of fresh water, tangy hindra bushes and sweet yellow nara flowers, I worked until I had put the last bit of shade in.

I should have gone home then, but I had barely wrapped the painting when the water nymphs came out to play. They must have known I was there, but they splashed around as if I weren't, their lithe figures almost floating on the surface. I had never seen them so joyous and I couldn't resist painting them, losing track of time in the process.

With one last look at the water nymphs, I hoisted my bags onto my shoulders and made my way down the path leading to the castle grounds. I would have to hurry; it would be dark soon and Father would be furious when he found out I had sneaked off without my guard, Neia, again.

He had warned me over and over to not stray too far and to always take Neia with me. But it wasn't easy to paint with someone constantly watching me. Neia tried to keep her distance, but I still felt her eyes on me all the time. I itched to be alone—not alone in my room, no, alone out here, painting without being disturbed or being told when to go home.

5 - Victoria at Infinite Love
"I really liked how Llyskel grew as a character. By the time the conflict part of the story came around, he had grown confident enough to tackle his captivity without waiting around like a damsel to be rescued.... The courtship rituals were very sweet.... I liked that in this world m/m relationships, poly and even open relationships were not only acceptable, but the norm.... The Fifth Son felt like a warm ray of afternoon sunshine and left me feeling positive about Llyskel and Ariv's future together. A most enjoyable read and I highly recommend it."

4.5 - Jay at Joyfully Jay
"I really loved this story and was caught up in Llyskel's world. Arden does a wonderful job of letting us see things through his artist's eyes, and the colors and light and images are all so beautifully explained. The world of magic the story creates is richly detailed, but not overwhelming in its world building for such a short book.... I also really liked Llyskel and Ariv together. They had a great combination of a sweet, traditional courtship, combined with hot (and kinky) sex.... Overall I thought The Fifth Son was a great story. It had a wonderful combination of sweet romance, hot sex, and exciting action. I would definitely recommend it."

4.5 - Lis at Rarely Dusty Books
"I really liked this short, but well fleshed- and filled out story. The writing is exquisite and captures the surroundings well. It makes that the writing fits both the world the story is set in as well as the characters and the fantasy feel of it all. Both Llyskel and Ariv are likeable characters.... While I like my characters to be kick-ass, Llyskel was just right. Ariv is strong and capable and caring in contrast.... All in all this is a recommendable story. While not overly long, it suits the plot. Go get it!"

4 - Fashionta at Booked Up Reviews
"I rather liked this story and Llyskel with all his quirks, even his kinky ones! LOL. There is just something about him that holds your interest and makes you want to understand how his mind works. The story is wonderfully written for a short story, though I do wish it was longer."

4 - Pixie at M/M Good Book Reviews
"For me this book was just right. It wasn't too short, it wasn't too long (did I sound like Goldilocks?). It was the perfect length with a touch of danger, a touch of kink, a lot of hot sex, a good story-line, the world building was good without too much information. There was a kidnapping, a controlling Queen, a hunky Captain and a quite prince, so honest to god... what more could you want. Get this book and enjoy."

4 - Darien at Pants Off Reviews
"What a surprising short this one turned out to be. It brought the sexy, a little action, and romance. That one hell of a combination and with the magic it was just down right entertaining.... Overall, I really liked it and I am surprised. Blaine is really good at creating a fantasy world and interesting unforgettable characters."

4 - Bobby at BookWenches
"The first thing that struck me about The Fifth Son was the author's world-building. Ms. Arden has created a detailed and unique universe that feels like a blend of the medieval, the futuristic, and the magical and that feels very "real." It easily drew me in and came to brilliant life as I read.... If you enjoy fantasy, The Fifth Son is worth reading."

3.5 - Alex at Between the Covers
"One of this story's strengths was the subtle world building. In many regards it follows a standard fantasy world construction, but there are enough nuances to add a special flare, and it was those touches that made it particularly strong to me.... In addition to this, the descriptions used throughout the writing brought the story to life. The narrator is an artist and rightly gives beautiful (sexy) descriptions of the things he sees: flowers, men, fights, gardens, etc. It was gorgeous and sexy and one of my favorite things about this story!"

0 - Serena at QMO Books
"A fairy tale from beginning to end, this story about an artistically talented prince who is different from everyone else around him because he possesses no magic captured me from the first page. The whole setting enchanted me as well: secret spots in the forest, water nymphs, a wonderful castle, and a yearning need for love are the perfect background for a story designed to take you away from it all, off into a world where spells and magic are as normal as breathing.... [I]f you’re in the mood for a romantic fairy tale with a twist and some nice mystery thrown in, give this one a try. My guess is you will like it, just like I did."


24,000 words
61 pages

Release Date

Book Type






Cover Art



M/M, fantasy