I love slavefic and fantasy, so Bad Slave seemed like a slam dunk. Also, I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones and I’d be willing to bet Ms. Berrisford is as well since the former seemed derivative of the latter.
Title: Bad Slave
Author: Kay Berrisford
Rating 2.5 out of 5 Stars
From the Publisher
When the king commands former war hero Captain Jay Ghair to find him the perfect royal sex slave, Jay’s quiet new life as a librarian is shattered. Jay discovers the boy he’s looking for in Alix, a lowly miner and wannabe court scientist, whom Jay can’t help but secretly adore. However, teaching the rebellious Alix to be a docile slave is difficult. Alix will behave for just one man, and it isn’t the king. It’s Jay.
Standing by while the king’s treatment of Alix becomes cruel is torturous for Jay. He longs to return to his library, yet he can’t bear to leave Alix, or his people, unprotected. To rescue Alix—and save the realm from the increasingly tyrannical king—Jay must confront the demons of his military past and take up the sword again. But his most important battle must be won through returning Alix’s love and learning to master this bad slave who submits only for him.
I’ve given some serious consideration to Bad Slave and why it didn’t work for me. Let me just go ahead and say this review is purely subjective, just my opinion and I’m certain it will work for others. I’m going to attempt this review without being to spoilery, but I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.
There were some overall problems mainly there was no hook, nothing that engaged me and made me want to know what’s in store for the characters. Like I said, I think Ms. Berrisford is a fan of Game of Thrones and maybe tried to pay homage to it. The problem is there are what, 90 volumes of Game of Thrones? All at 1500+ pages a pop, so Mr. Martin has ample time to evolve characters, explore alliances, vie for thrones, introduce new kingdoms, creatures, etc. and world build. Bad Slave isn’t long enough to introduce all that. Quite simply, it’s too ambitious.
Additionally, there were several events that didn’t get explained well if at all. Jay has been retired from military service for the past 10 years, yet the king asks him to find him a new sex slave. Not only that but (a) he wants a slave like Jay’s former consort, Druis, and (b) he already has a harem. So, my questions then became why Jay specifically? Why did the slave have to be like Druis? Is it some sort of vendetta? Personal grudge? Druis was notorious for his infidelity, so did he and the king have an affair that 10 years later the king wants to flaunt? Which leads me to my next issue.
Jay never questions any of this he just goes out and finds Alix. Alix actually has a choice as to whether or not he wants to become the king’s slave. He’s made his living as a miner and is poor, so I can see the motivation to jump at the opportunity for a new life. But he’s signed on to be a sex slave, right? Less an a week into his stay at the palace he starts talking about being a scientist, wanting to make an impact on the king so the king will allow him to work on his inventions most of which involve some sort of propulsion system involving kalamite. None of this seemed very slave-like. I’m guessing this was the “bad” part of the slave equation.
The kalamite also turned into part of another sub-plot in that Alix believes the lunarstone is made of hard kalamite which is explosive and apparently used to fuel the propulsion system. The lunarstone is what gives the king his divine right to rule, but Alix contends it’s just a rock which throws Jay into an existential quandary since he went to war and lost several friends as well as Druis in an effort to regain the lunarstone for the king and his divinity. I can see questioning past actions, reflecting, etc. but the fly in the ointment is he fought for King Raeli not King Lyam. King Lyam is quite young and overall unfit to rule. Then again Lyam was a conundrum throughout.
Lyam wants a new sex slave, right? So, one would assume he would want to use said slave. Like I said, he had a harem which apparently he’s sent to the dungeon in a fit of rage or caprice; so, reducing down to just one you would think… No. Not only does he seemingly have no desire for Alix other than to “see it suffer”, he wants him to stay with Jay? Just didn’t make any sense. He was actually using the harem and then all the sudden-Poof-not interested anymore? Did he suddenly turn heterosexual? Alix has a theory that the king’s actually submissive and wants all the things done to Alix done to himself. Possible. I don’t know. I think he’s supposed to be mad à la Joffrey and therefore irrational, but giving it a week to evolve is asking a lot of a reader.
Lyam is driving the kingdom into the ground with excessive taxes and general bad management, so he must be overthrown which actually made sense and you can never go wrong with a battle sequence. What didn’t make sense was how this occurred. Duke Jamed comes to visit with his entourage then a few days later a new set of his soldiers take up residence as well. No one thinks to question why the Jamed has an army in the palace? Then the coup seems to happen purely by accident which makes no sense for a coup d’état. Then again Jamed in no way seems capable of planning and/or executing a coup d’état considering he’s a simpering sycophant.
The relationship development between Jay and Alix is filled with sexual tension and was enjoyable. Their relationship should’ve been more of the centerpiece of the book, in my opinion. Most of the sub-plots detracted from rather than enhanced their story. There really isn’t any kink. Alix gets humiliated a bit for the king’s pleasure which I wouldn’t constitute as kink and other than that he gets spanked once.
The prose is good. There weren’t any glaring errors. I will say Ms. Berrisford has an extensive vocabulary which, I believe, was put to good use for the sake of authenticity. There were a couple of… flights of fancy about spiders and webs that that I couldn’t make heads or tails out of, but I’m just going to label as symbolic and move on.
Bad Slave has good components that weren’t given enough time to come together. There are too many sub-plots happening that muddled the picture, detracted from the overall experience and prevented me from becoming engaged with these two protagonists.
Where to Buy
An ARC was provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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