Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hidden Heart (Tales of Amaranth book 3) by Thom Lane

Hidden Heart by Thom Lane

I find myself conflicted. I enjoyed the telling of the story, I liked the author's voice, which is technically the slave's voice, since it's first person told entirely from the viewpoint of the slave. But I'm not so sure how I feel about the story.

So many of the "true slave" fantasy stories are written to glorify slavery, and the author does not do that here. In this world the animals are treated with more respect than the slaves. In fact, it seems that the animals are worth more than the slaves.

Tiffin works during the day mucking out horse stalls and doing other rather strenuous labor in the barn area. Punishments are swift, and just about every free person carries a whip or crop or switch, and can use it on any slave they see.

I believe that Hidden Heart is the third book in this series, and I have not read the previous books in the series. I'm not sure that I want to, either. It isn't because the book was badly written, because in fact the prose and dialogue were skillfully woven into a nice telling of the story. It's just that the story left me feeling bad about the places humanity has been. And is still in, in some places of the world. The slaves here aren't even treated particularly bad -- they are treated to a hard days' work, but the slave masters, the main people over them, seem to be pretty fair with them. They don't punish just for the sake of showing they can, but only when there is an infraction. There is talk of a whip or strap touching them to remind them, but pain seems to be meted out for a reason in most cases.

Still, being a slave because you choose to be, and being a slave because you have no choice in the matter... those are different fantasies. Also, being an indentured "body slave" who loves his master is still different from being the slave of a castle who must work in the barns every day.

Here's is the blurb:

Tiffin is a slave boy, branded and chained, trained to serve and eager to please. That’s all he knows; his past life is a mystery, wiped from his mind. Sold to a grim fortress and facing a bleak future, he seeks comfort where he can find it, in the arms and at the feet of Sergeant Zander. He’s happy to give over control of his body to that dominant, delightful man -- but someone else keeps stealing into his mind, taking over.

Tiffin doesn’t know how or who. All he knows is how much trouble he’s in, and how much worse it’s going to get...unless Zander can help him discover what's going on, before he literally loses his mind.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Strong BDSM theme and elements, male/male sexual practices, master/slave.

You can see there is another plot working through the story, and it's a pretty good plot. This plot is not the main intention or the main purpose of telling the story, but it does add some interest.

BDSM elements:
  • Bondage and Discipline: 3 of 3
  • Dominance and Submission: 3 of 3
  • Sadism and Masochism: Pain is given for punishment, not for enjoyment. 0 of 3 
  • Extra Point: No. It's true the D/s is a huge part of the story, but this is actual slavery, not really BDSM.
As for the writing elements: the various plots have interest and are well told, there are a few pacing issues but it's not a major problem, prose and dialogue were both skillfully written and weave together nicely, character development was also well done. I'm not quite as sure about world-building - I would think I had a handle on this world and then something would feel like an anachronism in it. However, since this is the third book in the series and I haven't read the other two it's hard for me to say much about it. Some of those apparent inconsistencies would probably make sense if I'd read the previous books in the series.
  • Book Rating: Hidden Heart: 8 of 10
  • BDSM Intensity Level: 6 of 10
  • Heat Level: 3 of 5
I would be interested in another book written by this author that takes place in a different series or a different world, but I don't believe I'm interested in reading other books in this particular series. This is a skilled author who apparently understands what it means to be a slave, and does a very good job of explaining it. This particular world just didn't work for me.

The ability to evoke strong feelings about characters and worlds and situations... that shows skill. So this isn't a case of bad writing, just a case of this world and this story not resonating well with me.

1. Healing Heart
2. Dark Heart
3. Hidden Heart


No comments:

Post a Comment