Slave Trade, by comidacomida – book review by Fred Patten
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Slave Trade,, by comidacomida. Illustrated by SpottyJaguar.
Birmingham, AL, Two-Lips Press, January 2017, hardcover $29.99 (466 pages), Kindle $9.99.
The first sight of the telephone-sized hardcover edition of this book is stunning. It’s a huge 8½ x 11 x 1-inch tome that’s almost impossible to hold open without using both hands, and so heavy (over 3 pounds) that it’s tiresome to hold it without resting it on a table or your lap. Slave Trade seems designed mostly for Kindle sales, although each 8½ x 11” page takes two pages to fit onto a Kindle reader. Amazon says that the Kindle edition is 912 pages.
Slave Trade is a furry erotic adventure-fantasy (although there is no rating) set in a Medieval/Renaissance-like world that is not quite funny-animal. There are six main mammal kingdoms; three for anthro animals with plantigrade (flat) legs like bears, rodents, and primates – Tenvier, Larana, and Pross — and three for those with digitigrade (walking on toes) legs; canines, felines, ungulates — Diermyna, Meisenyl, and Vensii. Some practice slavery; others don’t. Usually the characters act so human that they might as well be funny animals; then someone does something that could only be done with an animal’s nature.
“The porcupine [Gaius, a tanner] reached back behind himself to snap a quill free; he then used it to pin up a loose section of leather on the harness.” (p. 84)
Most of this takes place on the vast estates of Lord Hector Desanti, a white Stag nobleman from Vensii now residing in Pross. The main character is Sidney, a young slave (Fox) on Lord Hector’s estates. Sidney hero-worships Lord Hector from afar; he’s like a god to Sidney. So he’s stunned when Lord Hector not only notices him, but gives him personal attention.
At first this personal attention is all homosexual. Sidney is used to being a sex toy; he used to be owned by Lord Bulhue (hippopotamus), who was so brutal he almost killed Sidney. In fact, Lord Bulhue only sold him when he was so “used up” that he was barely still alive. So Sidney doesn’t expect anything better. He is dumbfounded when Lord Hector is actually gentle with him.
“When Lord Hector spoke he did so quietly, his firm voice carrying a sweet, melodious tone to Sidney’s ears. ‘You’ve done well with the dressing.’
Though it was barely above a whisper, the Fox had no trouble hearing it and clung to every word; his master had praised him. The Fox glowed at the compliment. ‘Thank you, Master. I wish only to please.’
The words came out of his muzzle, a veiled admission of just how much he wanted to serve. He heard the sound of his master returning to him from across the room. Sidney wished longingly that his loincloth was within reach. When the sound of the hooves on the floorboards stopped right in front of him, Lord Hector made his request known. ‘Stand for me, Sidney.’
Whimpering inaudibly, Sidney complied. He tried standing at a half-angle, avoiding meeting the Stag’s eyes as a suitable excuse. The Fox folded his paws across his abdomen in what he hoped looked like a casual stance, hoping beyond hope that he’d be able to hide his excitement at having his master so close to him. He felt as if his body betrayed him as the proximity of his paws and their warmth made his member emerge just a little further; he cursed his body under his breath.
Without saying a word Lord Hector approached him. The Stag came from the side and stopped uncomfortably close; Sidney imagined that he could feel his master’s breath against his fur and fought back the urge to shiver at how near the perfect, silvery body was from him. He kept his eyes down, biting down on his tongue until he could taste blood in an attempt to get his body under control. The Stag walked around him to his backside.” (pgs. 23-24)
No need to get more explicit; the text and the full-page illustrations by SpottyJaguar do that. (Chapter heading sketches that don’t reveal as much are by CBH.) The first fifty pages are a mixture of background exposition and eroticism, with throbbing members, sticky bodily fluids, and a frightening electronic sex machine, the Sardassi. After about page 50, the plot gets moving.
But what is the plot? Sidney is unbelievably naïve and timid. All he knows is that Pross is ruled by numerous Lords, most of them much more brutal then the gentle, adorable Lord Hector. They have absolute power over their vassals. When he is told that Pross is a kingdom, with a King above the Lords, he has to have what a King is explained to him. He is content to follow orders and never think for himself. So why does Lord Hector give him increasing responsibility in areas that he knows nothing about? He doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he likes it.
“Ever since he first became a slave he’d either shared a bed with a trainer or master, or, when he was given time to himself he was still surrounded by dozens of other slaves. The thought of having the work shed was unheard of; it not only provided him with privacy, but an actual door! His eyes slowly swiveled to look at the blessed portal that he never expected to provide the privacy that slaves weren’t supposed to have.” (p. 53)
Sidney is a house slave. He is dimly aware of the field slaves who tend and harvest Lord Hector’s crops. He knows nothing about the gladiator slaves. Each Lord is required by Lord Levid, the King, to train several gladiators; for the public’s entertainment in the arena, and for the King to take the best of them for the army in Pross’ war with reptilian Sarvis. Lord Hector has three brawny gladiators-in-training; Dorias (Yak), Choel (Tiger), and Uraou (Brown Bear), and a new slave that Lord Hector wants trained as a gladiator, Maern, a Stallion from Vensii who does not speak Prossian. And Tharis (Bull), but he’s old and no longer a gladiator, reassigned to stud service. Sidney is dumbfounded again to be promoted to a gladiator slave master, in charge of training Dorias, Choel, Uraou, and Maern. The first three are contemptuous of Sidney at first, but they do appreciate his going easy on them instead of savagely beating them just to show off his authority. In desperation, he gets the idea of asking Tharis to help out.
“Choel and Uraou spoke their disbelief in unison. ‘Tharis?’
The Fox shrugged. ‘Well … he has some experience as a gladiator. I guess it’d make sense that he could help everybody learn a little.’
Several of the slaves looked as though they might have wanted to say something but Sidney decided that he had to be more decisive and so he raised his voice and called out. ‘Tharis! Come here, please!’” (p. 147)
Tharis does help, and Lord Hector is pleased that the gladiators are making progress. Since Sidney is doing so well with Tharis, he is also put in charge of the Bull’s official duty; of milking his erection to collect semen.
The gladiatorial bout in the arena at Pross’ Equinox Festival is supposed to only demonstrate the gladiators-in-training’s skills, but the king suddenly orders it intensified.
“Sidney stood up when the sound of metal-on-metal indicated that their storage room door was indeed opening. Although the Fox was overjoyed to see his master the grave expression on the Stag’s muzzle was not very reassuring and Lord Hector wasted no time mincing words. ‘Only one of you is fighting tonight.’
Uraou snorted, glancing at Sidney. ‘Just one? How’re we supposed to show what we –‘
The Stag continued, speaking over the slave. ‘It’s a fight to the death.’
The Bear fell silent immediately.” (p. 187)
To give away what’s going on (sorry; it’s supposed to be a revelation), Lord Hector and King/Lord Levid hate each other’s guts. The Stag is from Vensii, where slavery is illegal. The customs of Pross require him to own slaves. The Prossian nobility is extremely brutal towards its slaves. Lord Hector, by showing kindness to his, is subtly showing contempt to the Prossian royal court and King Levid (who is always hidden behind a rich purple curtain). The Prossian nobility believe that one must torture one’s slaves to train them to be worth anything. Lord Hector, by making his least competent slave his slave master, is showing them all up – if he can really guide Sidney into holding his own with the best Prossian slave masters.
“Even as Lord Hector took his seat a wave of servants emerged from all sides of the room with silver pitchers and Lord Levid continued his conversation as if they didn’t exist. ‘Hector … we have been hearing that you aren’t your slave master’s first owner.’
The Stag nodded again, appearing to pay more attention to his empty plate than the figure behind the purple cloth. ‘That is correct, your Majesty.’
Lord Levid’s musings were spoken rather than thought. ‘How strange that must be … we could imagine that such an arrangement would be awkward at times.’
Lord Hector finally looked up, smiling pleasantly. ‘Oh, it most assuredly started that way, your Highness. There were certain aspects of his training that were required to be relearned when he became responsible for my fighting stables.’
Lord Levid’s voice was full of patronizing mirth. ‘We mean with regard to using another Lord’s cast-offs, Hector … though, we suppose we might also appreciate the difficulty of having to teach a pleasure slave how to deal with fighting slaves.’
Sidney admired his master for how efficiently he controlled his displeasure; the banter didn’t appear to affect the Stag at all. Lord Hector held his goblet up as the Panther servant poured wine into it. ‘Indeed. As I said, there were certain aspects of his training that were required to be relearned when he became responsible for my stable.’
A well dressed ferret woman almost directly across the table from Lord Hector placed her elbows on the table and rested her muzzle on her laced-together fingers. ‘I’m surprised such a little spit of a Fox could expect to command the obedience of a stable of gladiators.’” (pgs. 200-201)
After Sidney realizes what this is all about, he, Lord Hector, and Lord Hector’s gladiators (especially Maern) become more of a partnership in planning to show up the Prossian nobility. But King Levid, as an absolute monarch, doesn’t play fair.
Slave Trade (cover by MoltenGoldArt) mixes well-written refined, deadly Renaissance court politics, including attempted assassinations and ambushes, with continued scenes of graphic m/m sex. The sadistic King Levid uses everything to humiliate Sidney and Lord Hector, and to try and kill Lord Hector’s gladiators. The slow bedroom beginning at Lord Hector’s estates turns about halfway through the novel into intrigue and action at the gladiatorial arena, the Prossian royal court, and wherever King Levid may strike next.
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