Book Review

The Empress’ New Clothes by Jaid Black

C+

Title: The Empress' New Clothes
Author: Jaid Black
Publication Info: Ellora's Cave 2002
ISBN: 0972437703
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

This has to be one of the most campy erotica novels I’ve read, and after I agreed to suspend reality and go along with the absolute outrageousness – and the nonstop sex scenes and moist channels, I mostly enjoyed it. Kyra Simmons, a mild-mannered accountant, brings her best friend Geris to a meditation retreat – one of the funniest opening chapters I’ve read in awhile – and as they exit, two mammoth 7-foot-tall men in leather appear in the parking lot. Zor Q’an Tal, High King of Tryston, Emperor of Trek Mi Q’an galaxy, Keeper of the Large Cock and Many Apostrophes, has been told he’ll find his Sacred Mate in the “first dimension” (aka earth) and lo and behold, he can rip the clothing from Kyra’s body telepathically. She is his Sacred Mate!

L’et us go t’hrough the d’imension’al portal to Tryston, emphasis on the ‘tryst’, and let the campy humpity hump begin! On Tryston, the warriors are large, well-endowed, and constantly horny for sex. With formal speech that recalls a overly-stylistic historical novel, Tor and his brother bring Kyra to Tryston, where Tor finds that (a) he really really really REALLY wants to hump Kyra and bind her to him as his Sacred Mate already, (b) Kyra is not at all accustomed to the shall we say forceful and directorial method of mate management employed by Trystani warriors, and (c) as much as she’d like to do the trysty with him, she’s got some other bones to pick first, not the least of which is her own kidnapping.

But oh, this is campy erotica, and soon the fine, fine 10 inches of fizznuckin’ put to rest Kyra’s concerns about her career, her life on earth, and her newfound subjugation at the hands (and other parts) of Tor because that fizznuckin’? Damn fine, apparently.

As I said, once I agreed to be entertained by the campy aspects, the more nitpicky plot points – why does Kyra let go of her worries, her homesickness, and her old life so easily? – were answered by a mental shrug on my part, mostly because I began to not only enjoy the utterly over-the-top sexuality and society of Tryston (or as I called it, Planet Nooki’e!) but consider the story on the whole as an exploration of female fantasies of sexual subjugation. There are some women who would get mighty turned on at the idea of being attentively cared for by multiple warriors who are not permitted penetration, or at the idea of a mate who is bound on a profound level to their sexual gratification and fulfillment, even if that mate was frequently heard to ask, “Who owns you? Who is your master? Whose cock do you wish to fill your moist channel? Who is the sole possessor of the remote control?” Ok, not that last one but you get the point. Even the over-possessive masterful sexx0r talk certainly could corner many fantasies for female readers, and I have to give Black credit for creating a vehicle in Kyra for discovering that domination can be sexually liberating. Kyra has to adjust to a very male-dominated culture, not just in language and habit but in dress – her official garb as Empress and High Queen is a see-through boob scarf and skirt and just about every warrior she encounters is expected socially to admire her openly with blatantly lustful expressions and comments on her “woman’s pelt” and “fire-berry nipples.”

Of course, within that subjugation of women is a bit of female control – a camp-inflated version of the All Controlling and Healing Vagina, if you will. Once a warrior finds his Sacred Mate, his appetite for bound slaves and kefahs (enchanted sand women whose purpose is bringing men and women to their peak. Repeatedly) just about disappears and he becomes manfully fixated on making his wee woman happy, sated, and solely his. By the time Kyra accepts her new position as mate, empress, and often-humped object of Tor’s sexual desire, she realizes that she wields some influence over Tor – though not enough influence to prevent a large misunderstanding & misadventure that constitutes the climax of the story. That said, if scenes that are not bondage-related but do involve verbal domination and female subjugation are not your thing, this will not likely sexually titillate or interest you.

What dropped this book in my ratings was the villain. Candy and I have often joked and grumbled that the easiest way to create a villain is to make him pure evil: Ugly. Mean. Greasy, even. And an abuser of animals. It’s usually the scene animal abuse that serves as the first clue to a villain. In this case, it’s not animal abuse but sexual abuse and murder of children. What jarred me to badly was that the villain and the conflict arrived very late in the story – at times I was wondering if there was going to BE a conflict or if the bulk of the story was Kyra’s adjusting to life on Planet Nooki’e – and when the villainy arrived, it was sweepingly awful and left me nauseated.

 

The insurgent leader, Ty, decimates a sector, and when Tor and his brothers arrive, he finds the leader’s name scrawled in blood, and observes in detail young boys who were sodomized and left to die from their injuries, young women raped and strangled, and older women and men left in various states of massacre.

 

It yanked me out of the campy “anything goes” attitude with which I’d been enjoying the book, and left me angry and sick. It seemed too easy a way to create a villain, even so late in the story. Ty himself doesn’t appear at all, except through holograms and in the aftermath of his evilness, and he’s not scary enough or enough of a threat to the protagonists. And the resolution that solves the problem of his insurrection happens off-stage, leaving only his actions to resonate in the reader’s mind, and not nearly enough retribution for their pain and fallout. After page following page of nonstop horny happy sex and voyeurism and lots of humping and oral sex in the bathing chambers, to be yanked out of the goofy over-the-top sexuality into child rape and murder seemed like a quick and shabby – and overly simple and unnecessary – way to create a villain, or emphasize his evilness.

Moreover, I didn’t understand the reason for the contrast between sexually explicit exploration of female domination and the use of sex as a tool of violent domination over children. I get it – sexual domination isn’t always good or always bad but has a place within consensual activities – but no need to hit me over the head with it.

Further, because the villain makes his awful appearance 3/4 of the way through the story, the conflict presented by his insurrection seems an afterthought and not at all a required development to the protagonists’ story. His removal and the resolution of his story line do equally little to change anything or advance any depth to the relationship between the protagonists, and the experience of that particular turn to the novel’s plot left me far less pleased with the overall experience of having read it.

Yet my disappointment will not stop me from finding the sequels and reading them as well. Credit goes to Black for creating secondary characters who are multi-dimensional and interesting enough in their individual motivations and personalities that I want to find out what happens to them and to revisit Kyra and Tor as their siblings’ stories continue.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Teddy Pig says:

    “Tryston (or as I called it, Planet Nooki’e!)”

    Hehehehehehehehe

    “Who owns you? Who is your master? Whose cock do you wish to fill your moist channel? Who is the sole possessor of the remote control?”

    LOLOLOLOLOL!

  2. 2
    Yvonne says:

    “mammoth 7-foot-tall men in leather”

    Sounds like a great way to avoid writing a mid term on the impact of post-modern theory on anthropological thought and practice.

    Besides, I’m stuck upstate in a snowstorm and not getting any fizznuckin’ of my own. *sigh*

  3. 3
    sleeky says:

    Is Jaid Black channeling Karen Marie Moning or vice-versa?

  4. 4
    CantateForever says:

    Can I say how much I have missed the whited- out spoilers? Those are some of the best parts of the reviews- you know, the parts that make you understand the plot enough that you have to pee you pants at the snarkalosity of it all.

    Oh, and in refernce to the storyline, my word is covered97, and the heroine is not. *Giggle*

  5. 5
    dl says:

    Sarah…go for it, but for me the campiness got old very quickly.  The thing about the law requiring women to sleep with their legs apart so the rodent creatures can lick their privates, finally grossed me out enough to quit buying.

    Sleeky…JB is waaay campier than KMM.

  6. 6
    Teddy Pig says:

    OK you made me buy this thing…

    It is all your fault now.

  7. 7
    msbunburyist says:

    You made me buy it, too. What can I say? I had to see what intergalactic sex would be like.

  8. 8
    Angel says:

    Awesome review. Funny and, while it made me understand why you got a kick out of the book, it totally gave me a good enough sense of the content to realize that I would hate this thing—and probably all of Black’s other stories—with a fierce, seething hatred. I cannot abide total domination of females by males. While a little light bondage of girl by guy, can be oodles of great fun, I want to know that the heroine is living the life she wants the way she wants outside of and inside the bedroom.  Yanno?

    Anyway. Thank you. Somebody elsewhere had recced her works without mentioning the female domination stuff and I actually ((sudder)) came, like, this close >< to subjecting myself to one of my major antikinks.

  9. 9
    MamaNice says:

    When an author chooses a pen name (which I’m assuming must be the case here)so juvenile as “Laid – I mean, Jaid” I just can’t move past that first bit of awfulness to discover what horrors await inside…unless the book came packaged with some free sex toy or something – that might be fun!

  10. 10
    CatMcC says:

    I couldn’t handle the constant references to her “wee cunt.”  It made me picture Groundskeeper Willie, or Shrek, neither of which I want to picture when reading erotica.

  11. 11
    Invisigoth says:

    LOL @ CatMcC.  Thanks a lot!  I now have a very bizarre image in head that I can’t get out!

  12. 12
    Suzanne says:

    The characters and plot of this story (tho I haven’t read it) seem strikingly familiar to another book I read years ago:  Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey (1990) and it’s sequel Keeper of the Heart. 

    Tedra De Arr needs to rescue her planet Kystran, and there are huge barbarian warriors who ignite a raging fire… you get the picture.  Anyway, the see-through dress thing is in these books, and the muscle-bound tyrant thing too.

    Does anyone else see the similarities??

  13. 13
    DS says:

    It sounds to me a lot like a John Norman book in his Gor series.  Those books set my teeth on edge.  I really dislike books about dominance, including Story of O.

  14. 14
    Teddy Pig says:

    Good god!

    This story went on and on and on…

    OK enough with the cutesy sci-fi speak.

    She passed up a prime scandalous moment of intergalactic no no nooky incest with a brothers in arms orgy theme.

    I mean it should have been called The Empress’ Next Orgasm or The Empress’ New Semi-interesting Kink

  15. 15
    Marissa says:

    Ok, so everyone realizes that Jaid Black is the founder of Ellora’s Cave e-book publishing, right?  Of course her books are campy to the extreme. 

    I still love them anyway and I have all the books in this series!!

  16. 16
    Lauren says:

    For the time it was written, I think it’s a great story. It’s not going to win any great awards and I’m still laughing at the remote control comment but that book was written when there wasn’t a whole hell of a lot out there that wasn’t straight up porn or filled with manroots and purpled shafts.

    I think, adjusted for the fact that it was an early ebook, one of the first ebook romantica titles and an early book for Jaid as an author, it’s not bad at all.

    I have fond memories of it, LOL, it was one of the first books I bought from EC.

    Still, this review is up there in the top ten favorite SB reviews of all time. (and eww, wee cunt? wee and cunt together don’t equal sexy to me)

  17. 17
    azteclady says:

    Suzanne, I thought the same!

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