Author: Tami Veldura
Publisher: NineStar Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.
Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.
Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.
Review: Khoram didn’t expect to get sold into slavery. It may take a while, but he’ll escape. What he really didn’t expect was to feel any kind of sympathy toward his owner, Atash. Atash needs Khoram to increase his social standing. He’s under his mother’s control and is doing all he can get escape it. Even though it doesn’t seem like it on the surface, both men have quite a bit in common. The social structure is deeply complex on Dulia, and Khoram knows enough to know he hasn’t got a hope of understanding what is happening, not only in terms of the social hierarchy, but in terms of the sexual practices around him. It would seem the success of Atash is wholly wrapped up in their ability to both enjoy a sexual situation. This is complicated by the fact Khoram’s previous employer wasn’t content merely selling him into slavery, and is now trying to kill him. Khoram and Atash may have a way to get out of this with everything they want, but it’s obvious they have many ways to make their lives much worse.
This would have been an awesome novel. Despite being a novella I was fascinated by the world building, and how well described the deeply complex societal structure on Dulia was. I say it would have been an awesome novel because I didn’t care for the speed with which Khoram chose to ally himself with Atash. Days from purchase a slave is close enough to his master to put chains back on? That didn’t work for me. I can see how with Atash not being purely human it was supposed to work, but it felt too Stockholm Syndrome for my comfort which nullified any idea Khoram had learned to want what Atash was offering.
The situation with Atash’s mother was something I both wanted to have happen and was hoping wouldn’t. It was a good instance of karmic justice, but it felt convenient. I think this another plot point I would have enjoyed more had it been played out over a longer time frame.
This book is an example of excellent world building. A deeply alien society became not only understandable but sympathetic. Khoram and Atash and their problems played out against an original backdrop. I’ll certainly be picking up this author’s work again.