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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

May 09, 2006

Wen Spencer - A Brother's Price

This is a bit of a strange one. There's nothing particularly science fictiony about this one, apart from the fact that the setting is Earthlike but not our Earth, and perhaps historical, but not our history. Wen Spencer's A Brother's Price takes place against a backdrop of 19th Century-level technology on a strangely altered world which is run by women. Men are in short supply, and this has created a sexist society in which men are traded and sold, married to whole families of sisters, and kept locked away or veiled.

It's uncommon for men to be taught to read or ride horses, and before they come of age they're expected to care for younger family members. When required, the men are decorated with braids and ribbons and paraded in front of potential suitors/buyers. There's an ever-present risk of inbreeding and disease, should, for example, a sister choose to use a so-called "crib", or brothel of forced male prostitution (use of v i a g r a-type drugs is common).

As the novel opens, Jerin Whistler is about to come of age, and fears being married off into a neighbouring family of inbred low-lifes. Circumstances, however, bring a high-born stranger into his home, and his life takes a turn for the adventurous.

It's part ripping yarn, part mystery story, and an entertaining, page-turning read. Not the sort of thing I usually read, but I bought it on an Amazon recommendation, and I'm glad I did.


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