Funny enough, this first scene in which Koston is introduced was originally put in halfway through book 2, roughly 600-700 pages later. I started writing it without any plan, outline, or even the acknowledgment that Koston had these secrets, and after I felt like a PFLAG parent who was dumbfounded by not seeing the signs in the 600 pages beforehand.
What’s important to note about Koston isn’t that he likes men, but that he loves honoring others more. In the short story, “The Wedding”, you see what is probably the first major moment in Koston’s life where he sacrifices a piece of himself for the benefit of others. Kallisto is there even then to advise against it. She believes that his intentions stem more from hubris than honorability; a common theme in their multiple interactions.
What we see initially in Koston’s first chapter is exactly what he wishes to conceal. Koston finds himself “glancing nervously at the windows of Damien’s home. Black curtains were draped over the already closed blinds. The younger man’s bedroom door was locked and his front door was bolted shut upon Koston’s arrival.” In order for him to maintain his reputation, the world cannot know that he regularly visits a gentleman escort. Is it more because of the lie itself, or the homosexual act? That much is revealed a little later…
Koston’s fleeting moments of genuine joy are cut short when his “escape” reveals himself to be another one of Koston’s admirers. Koston is about to step into the second-most powerful position in all of Cardeau, and everyone is comparing him to his grandfather, who is the embodiment of both the man Koston doesn’t want to become, but is willing to become in order to appease the public. Later, when we meet Marquez and see the dichotomy of his and Koston’s relationship, several parallels can be drawn between the men of the Donnick line, the paths there have been taken before, and where Koston and Marquez want to be and are currently heading. I could probably time a 50,000 word analysis on that subject, but that’s tangential to this chapter.
As this chapter progresses, we still Koston go from being his true self to falling deeper and deeper into the crevasses of his fatal flaw. The lowest point lies in his conversation with Queen Kallisto. Kallisto represents both the one person who could have helped set him free many years before (again, read “The Wedding”) and the person who has ensnared him in a delicate political web. He is her last option. She doesn’t want Koston to become her advisor, but he represents the only way that she might remain on her throne and attempt to redeem herself from a costly political maneuver. Those that don’t know Kallisto (really, that’s basically everyone except Koston) would think that she’s purposely taking advantage of him for his position and his loyalty to her as the Captain of the Cardeau Guard.
In reality, she wants to put him in this position about as much as he wants to be in it. As badly as Koston wants to avoid this position of power, Kallisto feels as though she’s nothing without it.
The end result, at least in this chapter, is a sour one. Kallisto despises Koston’s popularity, but would never reveal his darkest secret. They are bound now and, as it’s revealed later in the story, for more reasons that one. However, that doesn’t mean that she can’t still get in a good jab or two if opportunity knocks. Thus, her implication that he’s a whore at the end of a section that started with him being intimate with one is the perfect conclusion for Koston’s opening chapter.