Looking for a book we read back in the early 2000s (2003?) which had a male magician who disguised himself as a woman and was travelling on a quest with two other women, who were unaware of his real gender. Other remembered details follow:
- probably written in the 1990s
- the male mage (while disguised a woman) was involved in a sexual encounter/orgy with a stable boy, and his secret identity was, er, noticed
- high fantasy, felt inspired by Lord of the Rings
- there was a language which at least one character knew, which was forbidden to speak out loud (similar to the reluctance of people in LoTR to speak out loud the language of Mordor)
- one character might have been able to talk to horses
- the cover of the book was purple
- don't remember if the author was male or female.
- possibly a young adult book
Thanks in advance for any hints and help.