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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.

2
  • 2
    This rings a vague bell. Could it have been one of LE Modesitt's Recluce books? – Daniel Roseman Jun 16 '20 at 13:20
  • 2
    Sounds like it could be a Mercedes Lackey book. – KenM Jun 16 '20 at 16:15
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Sounds like The Innkeeper's Song (1993) by Peter S. Beagle, mainly by dint of one of the characters being magically disguised as a woman. There is also a stableboy in the story.

Here is the logline: "Three powerful women (each with her own secret past), a stable boy, a weaver's son, and an innkeeper set in motion a series of events that brings each of them face to face with the forces of magic and the workings of fate."

Three women, one black, one white with black hair dressed in white, and one hooded. Cover art by Palencar.

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