Saturday, 30 March 2013
Book Review: Dead to the World by L. E. Bryce
by L. E. Bryce
Servant and consort of the Lady of the Waters, a powerful sea goddess, Erred is captured by slave traders during a pilgrimage and borne across the desert to be sold. In the decadent city of Tajhaan, he is trained in the arts of love to become a pleasure slave and eventually a courtesan. But in the claustrophobic world of intrigue and brutality he inhabits, what place is there for hope, faith--or love?
In a strange and exotic land, Erred is an initiate of a powerful sea goddess. Without salt water he will die, as his spirit form is hrill, a type of creature reminiscent of a dolphin. On returning from a pilgrimage he and his entourage are attacked and at first the attackers think he is a woman with his silks and his veiled face. When it is discovered he is actually a very beautiful man, they decide not to kill him but capture him as a slave. Erred is taken across the desert to the city of Tajhann where he is trained to become a pleasure slave.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. It is beautifully written but the things that happen to Erred are not glossed over, including his first rape at the hands of a greedy merchant who bought Erred for his son but then couldn't resist having a taste of the slave himself. It is a brutal scene, with Erred being drugged and unable to defend himself at all. It is harrowing and you really feel for Erred, but although it is a difficult scene to read without it the book wouldn't have been as strong. It does not come across as gratitous.
Erred is a slave, he is there for his master's pleasure and nothing else. As he progesses and obeys he is moved through the ranks and one day may have the option to become a free courtesan, wherin he will pick and choose his own clients, but up until then he has no say in who his masters wish him to pleasure.
The book does have a hopeful ending, but I don't want to give it away. The characters are well drawn and you feel yourself drawn into this world of slaves and courtesans where one wrong look or word can mean your death; where friendships are one of the most important things and where love can be found even in the most unexpected places. Lots of political intrigue helps the plot along and I didn't want to stop reading I was so keen to see what happened to Erred.
The story is poignant, touching and erotic and one I would re-read again.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby
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