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Is the 12th in John Norman's destined never to end cavalcade of sword-and-planet-cum-BDSM novels, the Chronicles of Gor, which means it immediately follows the irremediable Slave Girl of Gor that I have already derided on here.

Now, when someone suggested I trash the Gorean novels on here, this one didn't immediately spring to mind as being particularly horrific. Not compared to its predecessor, which is narrated by a Chained Naked Slave Girl who gets "well used" every verse end, and not compared to Kajira of Gor, which I summed up using the quote, "Lie there and juice. Waste no time about it." I recall it as being rather pants but solely because it was rambling and incoherent. Then I re-read it. It was still rambling and incoherent, but either my mind was playing tricks on me back then, or I completely blocked out the shotgun blasts of horror that rear their head every few pages. As I said before when reviewing Slave Girl, this was written at the time when Gor was in transition in its core audience from your friendly local basement dwellers to your friendly local BDSM enthusiasts. However, it is still from the viewpoint of designated Mary Sue protagonist Tarl Cabot.

Right, I suppose I'd best give you an executive summary, then.

Executive Summary

Eskimos, bondage, and intergalactic gorilla-panthers, oh my!

A bit more detail, if you wouldn't mind?

It all starts when Tarl "Studmuffin" Cabot, who is now a rich political power in the world of Gor, undergoes an assassination attempt by a frenzied sleen. Gor, incidentally, suffers horribly from "call a rabbit a smeerp" and as such a sleen is sort of a Gorean dog equivalent but has six legs. Anyhow. He wonders how he could have been tracked, given his security is in tip-top condition, upon where he suspects one of his chained naked slave girls - Elizabeth Cardwell. Gorean readers will, of course, be familiar with this person; she's been a major character for the past 8 novels and there is a theory amongst the fandom that she is based on an old girlfriend of John Norman's because she starts out as a heroine in her own right as well as a love interest, but then, around volume 8, when the relationship was going south, increasingly unpleasant things begin to happen to her, and/or she goes over to the Bad Guys. He suspects she knows something, so he summons her to the furs for a sexual interrogation.

Yes, this is what it sounds like.

So once he's fucked the truth out of her (yes, seriously, he's so fucking manly is our Tarl that his prick acts as a lie detector), he casts her out and she's never seen again. I am truly gratified that the author is responsible enough to dispense sound relationship advice in his works.

Anyhow, off Tarl Cabot goes to the Sardar Mountains where he meets a contact at a neutral zone therein and watched a game of chess, sorry, Kaissa. That's Gorean chess which is like normal chess but has 21 pieces each, is on a 10x10 board, and the pieces are a mixture of orthodox and fairy chess pieces. It's the big game between Scormus of Ar (aka Bobby Fischer) and Qualius of Cos (aka Tigran Petrosian). Kaissa is really serious business because when the crowd see Qualius make unorthodox moves which sacrifice loads of his pieces they think he's been bribed to lose and are ready to lynch him - then all of a sudden, Scormus announces he's irretrievably lost because all the sacrifices were misdirections and he's left himself wide open. Needless to say, fascinating as this interaction is, there is no reason for it to be in the novel and in no way is the plot advanced.

So, his contact meets him and mentions something unusual in the land of the Red Hunters. They're Inuit to you and I. Apparently they're in trouble because the herds of tabuk, sorry, reindeer, haven't come along their usual migratory paths this year and they're in danger of starving to death. There's also word that this is the doing of the Kurii. They're the big bads of Gor, ten foot tall alien gorilla-panthers who want to conquer the solar system and have agents working to that effort, but they can't move against the Priest-Kings (eight-brained hyperintelligent praying mantises who protect it and all life in it) for various thinly justified reasons. While all this is going on, a fresh shipment of women of Earth arrives in the local slave market and they are confronted with the reality of the situation that they are women of Earth and now on Gor and they know what that means. One of them does but the other falls into flat denial and pleads, "That is only in stories!" Wrong! They're taken off for training, which is described in unnecessary detail, and results in them being really quite content with being a Chained Naked Slave Girl in service to a strict master. Yay.

So off Tarl goes on a boat to the land of the Red Hunters.

What follows now is a mixture of anthropology porn and just plain porn. Tarl Cabot finds that the Red Hunters, despite living in a remote and inhospitable area of Gor, which is very rarely contacted by people from other areas, practice slavery in the same manner as the civilised lands of Ar and Turia and Cos and Ko-ro-ba and Schendi and Torvaldsland and similar. Right down to having the same practices of ritualistic collaring of women and having them "kneel in the position of the Pleasure Slave." If you want to know how to do this, consult Google or better still, Second Life, which is full of Goreans for reasons I do not understand. Tarl fits in to this society absolutely perfectly, because he's a big Mary Sue, and befriends a Red Hunter called Imnak. There's then plenty tedious scenes of them hunting seals together and building igloos and a huge infodump about their culture and traditions, which is probably lifted from a book with a name like "101 Fascinating Things About The Inuit" or similar. I'm sorry, but no. The ritualistic pleasure slavery and Total Power Exchange BDSM that the rest of Gor indulges in doesn't really work here. Nobody fantasises about sneaking into the womens' igloo like they do a harem or seraglio. But it still is chucked in. Anyhow. We then discover the reason why the tabuk aren't migrating - someone, probably the Kurii, has built a huge wall across the tundra to keep them out of the Red Hunters' land and thus starve them out to make room to land a big Kurii invasion force.

Fhat the wuck.

Given the Kurii have interplanetary space travel and nuclear fission, why don't they just nuke them from orbit or something, I don't know.

Anyhow, Tarl reckons something is up and he decides to venture to the Wall. Where he is captured by a bunch of sinister warriors led by a woman of Earth named Sidney Anderson. She is an engineer by trade and was brought in by the Kurii to build the wall.

Fhat the wuck.

Why would they enlist a person of Earth to do this and thus spend 193 million miles worth of rocket fuel when they could just enlist a Gorean from the Caste of Builders to do it, especially given that there are Kurii agents recruited from the native Gorean population, I don't know.

Well, Tarl Cabot is made a slave and forced to work on the wall, but not before ominously telling Sidney Anderson he will one day enslave her, give her a properly feminine name, and make her understand her femininity. The prospect of this both terrifies her (as she is a virgin, we are told) and at the same time causes her to crack a moistie. For this, Tarl is assigned to the chain gang under the supervision of two of Sidney Anderson's own female slaves, which she believes he will find a humiliation and thus not bother trying to escape.

Wrong!

He escapes, along with Imnak, the slave labourers on the wall all are set free, and Tarl captures Sidney Anderson, renames her to Arlene, and gives her a seeing-to as promised. And as before, Tarl Cabot is so utterly manly that she turns her coat and joins his side. Yep. That's right. Tarl Cabot's prick can also act as a recruitment consultant. Yay.

More pointless infodumping about the customs of the Red Hunters occurs. Apparently the women of the Red Hunters wear fur bikinis normally, yet amazingly don't freeze to death. Ain't life glorious.

Anyhow, we eventually reach the Big Bad's base. He's a Kur named Zarendargar and he's built a super secret base built into the side of a mountain. Tarl infiltrates it, with Imnak and Sidney "Arlene" Anderson in tow, and meets Zarendargar, who's responsible for all the late unpleasantness that's been happening to the Red Hunters. The Kur are twelve foot tall gorilla-panther type creatures who are prone to violence and whose racial "hat," if you will, is Social Darwinism. So, we're all ready for the Big Fight, aren't we?

No we aren't. We're treated to another fucking infodump, this time about Kurii society and culture. They're standard Social Darwinist aliens. Then we're told about their reproductive cycle. Basically, it's like this. They have four genders - dominant, nondominant, egg carrier, and blood nurser. Nondominants are sterile. Dominants fertilise egg carriers, who lay eggs. The eggs are then put into blood nursers, which are globular masses of flesh and fur with no face and no limbs and which attach themselves to walls and floors, but which are sentient. Then the infant Kur is born. In the words of Zarendargar, "These fasten themselves to hard surfaces, rather like dark, globular anemones. The egg develops inside the body of the blood nurser and, some months later, it tears its way free." This is fatal to the blood nurser.

Fhat the wuck.

Apart from being completely irrelevant, have you spotted the evolutionary flaw in this plan? Yes, that's right - where do the blood-nursers come from? Tarl asks this, but it is simply hand-waved as being that there are lots of blood nursers about.

It's like John Norman thought, what's the squickiest yet strangely kinkiest way I can have a social Darwinist species reproduce? Aha! Chest-bursting!

Anyhow, Tarl Cabot and Imnak then proceed to battle their way through the complex (with the assistance of various chained naked slave girls kept in the complex who are so won over by Tarl Cabot's irrepressible manliness that they tell him all the secret entry codes and things), set the main reactor to explode, and bugger off, gathering up the former Sidney Anderson and a few other slave girls in the process, and bugger off home with a nice nuclear blast at the end.

Thank fuck that's over with.

Oh, and every so often, throughout the novel, Tarl Cabot goes into constantly repeated walls of text as to how awesome the Gorean institute of slavery is and how brilliant it is for gender relations and how suited to slavery women of Earth are and sideswiping feminism every so often. I am glad to see the War on Straw is still alive and well.

Well, I suppose I should give you an excerpt from one of the interminable scenes in which Tarl Cabot gives one of his many chained naked slave girls a good seeing to. Fine. Dinner is served.

"There is something nice about having a girl lying naked in your arms, who wears bondage strings on her throat.
"I have waited long for your touch, Master," whispered Thistle, who had once been the rich Audrey Brewster. I caressed the side of her face. She looked up at me. She was worth having. I had won her use in the bone gambling, her use as complete slave, until I chose to leave the tent. The hunt had gone well. Imnak and I had brought down four tabuk. Poalu, whom Imnak, with my consent, had made first girl, and the other girls, had followed us. Poalu had showed them how to cut the meat and lay it out on stones to dry. All now slept in the tent, save Thistle and myself.
"You were once Audrey Brewster," I said.
"Yes, Master," she said.
"For purposes of my use of you," I said, "for I have full rights over you, I shall name you, for the tenure of my ownership of you, Audrey."
"Thank you, Master," she said.
"But you wear the name now," I said, "not as a free name, but as a slave name I choose to put on you."
"Oh," she said.
"Do you object?" I asked.
"No, Master," she said.
"I am Audrey, your slave." She clutched me. "Why have you made me wait so long?" she asked.
"It pleased me," I said."

Oh yes. There's also a wonderful display of the "slave orgasm" shortly thereafter. This is where the chained naked slave girl comes at the mere thought of being enslaved and branded. In the book's words:

"Suddenly she clutched me. "Oh, oh," she cried. "It is the thought of being branded," she whispered, intensely. "Please, Master, hold me, hold me!"
Her thighs were clenched fiercely. "I am going into orgasm," she cried out, frightened. I held her, as she gasped and wept in my arms. I had not even entered her, or touched her intimately. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes. Angrily I thrust apart her legs.
"Forgive me, Master," she wept "It was the thought of being branded."

The rest, as they say, is silence. Only it isn't because there's another 20 of the buggers after this interminable, bloated, plot-hole-ridden, creephatted volume.

*liver-disintegrating belt of alcoholic liquor*

(IN1317)

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