This is one of those stories I really wanted to love, but just couldn't quite get into. Don't get me wrong, The Fifth Son is not a bad read by any means, it just lacked that something special to really find its way into my heart.
I think part of what distanced me from the story is the fact that we're kind of bashed over the head with the fact that Llyskel is an outcast. He doesn't fit in with his royal brothers. He doesn't have a role to play in court. He's an arist in a warrior's world. He lacks the magic that is so common-place to those around him. With all that emotional baggage put before you, the fact that he's gay is almost an anti-climactic.
Having said that, I absolutely loved the character Llyskel. He's a complex, well-developed character, with a colourful style of narration that sounds very much like one of his paintings (if you know what I mean). Young, innocent, and adorably romantic, he's also a young man with some very secret fantasies. My problem with the story is that while Captain Ariv is a likeable enough character, he just doesn't match my idea of the man who can fulfill those secret fantasies. There's something lacking in his personality to make him worthy of the royal lad I loved so much.
It is a wonderfully well-written story, and for readers who don't share my reservations about Captain Ariv, it's certainly a great read. For me, though, it remains a good one, and a lovely one, but a few ounces of testosterone on Ariv's part shy of a great one.