3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A fast-moving fantasy in a harsh world,
This review is from: To Serve and Submit (Paperback)
"To Serve And Submit" is the first book I have read by Susan Wright and it's a kind of cross between fantasy and erotica - an amalgamation of the two genres which works fairly well but might be dissatisfying to purist readers of either genre.
Susan Wright's writing style is very good - the story never drags but moves on quickly but with some charming detail about the world in which the events are taking place. Marja is a young woman living in a time/place rather like pre-industrial Scandinavia. Unlike most of her peers she can commune with the "olfs", little sprite-type beings that are cheeky but can also help her. Her job is to collect iron for her father to use but when an unusual looking man, Lexander, sails to their village she sees a whole new world opening out to her - he offers to come back to collect her in a year to help make her a pleasure slave and she agrees.
Marja finds herself among several other trainee slaves in different stages of their education; once ready they are moved on to Lexander's homeland on a journey by ship. Marja is taught by Lexander and his consort Helanas to be a submissive slave - and she seems to take to it remarkably well. I wasn't entirely convinced why she wanted to become such a good slave at the outset and why she went along with everything that happened to her - Lexander's statement "you're a true submissive" seemed a little too easy.
The world in which the story takes place is a harsh world, particularly for women, and Marja is required to sleep with whomever she is commanded to, male or female, although she doesn't seem to find this a problem. She becomes more and more attached to Lexander and works hard to be the ideal slave, submissive and obedient to his every requirement.
But then things start to change - Marja is sent by Lexander to shelter with a woman, Silveta, so that Lexander can be reunited with her as he says he loves her. Marja has been trained up till now to be submissive and to obey orders in a rather naïve way, yet she soon discovers that behaving like this is a danger to her as she travels to find Silveta. Marja has to grow up, and learn her own common sense, very quickly. She takes refuge with a couple for a while but is always yearning to meet up with Lexander again. Unfortunately she's not always particularly good news to those with whom she is staying and she is the unwitting cause of a duel which requires her and Silveta to flee.
Marja herself describes her method of getting through life: "I traded what others valued in order to survive." For Marja her item of value is her skills as a pleasure slave and she uses these skills to keep herself safe, to lull people to sleep so that she can escape and to survive her training as a slave.
For those who like reading fantasy books there is a lot to like in "To Serve And Submit". The world that Susan Wright has created is an interesting one, albeit very harsh, and the descriptions of the surroundings are very well written although a map might have been helpful!. The sexual element, that of dominance/submission, multiple partners, group sex and three occasions of rapes is much stronger than you would expect in a traditional fantasy novel and might put some people off. Things weren't written in too graphic a manner and so this element wasn't as difficult as I had initially feared but I found the underlying sexual threads of this story made me a little uncomfortable and they might be rather too much for many readers. However for those with an open mind who are ready for an interesting story of a young girl's learning about her nature and growing in strength so that she can prevail against some very difficult situations, this is an excellent and well-written read.