As the son and sidekick of a celebrity archaeologist, Tennessee Russo has been facing down ancient death traps since before he was old enough for his learner’s permit. Spending time on both sides of the camera for his father’s reality show, Ten is used to being in the spotlight, especially after coming out as gay on international television. However, after Ten and his father get into an argument over the ethics of selling cultural artifacts to the highest bidder, his dad cuts him from the show and stops speaking to him.
Two years later, Ten’s dad shows up unannounced to offer his son a chance to find the rings of the Sacred Band of Thebes. The Sacred Band was an ancient Greek army said to have comprised 150 queer couples. As with much of queer history, the warriors’ legendary love is dismissed by historians as platonic, and Ten believes that finding their missing wedding rings will prove that queer love is older and stronger than the world wants to admit. But can he trust the man who abandoned him two years ago? With the rumored magical powers of the rings drawing dangerous attention, Ten will have to figure out who is really on his side if he wants to survive another season of his father’s show.
L.C. Rosen’s Lion’s Legacy is an entertaining queer adventure reminiscent of classic movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Mummy. Hidden chambers, puzzles with deadly stakes and a fun, casual romance hit all the essential blockbuster buttons. However, Rosen’s take on the genre actively interrogates the ethics of treasure hunting, posing questions about the ownership of history and the responsible way to handle historical artifacts. Much like Ten’s strained relationship with his father, there’s a lot of nuance to work through to find the right path forward. Ten’s inner conflicts and the temple-raiding thrills are well balanced by Rosen, who sacrifices neither emotional complexity nor pacing.
Lion’s Legacy is a celebration of the strength of queer community, whether felt by two queer people passing on the street, or resounding through the uncountable queer lives that have intersected throughout history. Ten knows queer history can be fun, weird, tragic and beautiful, but above all he knows it’s a history worth protecting.