Bear with me, I’ve got to lay a little groundwork here, but this post does get into some items of interest to most of my readers…eventually.
I’m a big fan of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Honestly, its probably my absolute favorite science fiction series of all time, though its probably better described as “space opera” than true sci-fi. I’ve read the first ten novels of the original series (the 11th is out in hardback and I’m waiting for paperback), the two spin-off novels, and the four compilations of short-stories written by other authors set in what’s affectionately known as the “Honorverse”.
For those who aren’t familiar, the Honor Harrington series has been likened to as Horatio Hornblower in space. Oh yeah, and with a female Hornblower. The series centers around Honor Stephanie Harrington, an officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy (the Star Kingdom of Manticore being a planetary system/government founded by colonists who left Earth in the year 2877) and takes place towards the end of the 40th Century and the beginning of the 41st Century(using current reckoning…I won’t get into the calendars used in the books).
The crown of slaves
The book in particular that I wanted to discuss is Crown of Slaves, which is one of the two spin-off novels I mentioned above (its actually co-written by David Weber and Eric Flint, who’s written a few of the Honorverse short stories as well). The title itself could suggest something of interest to the uninitiated, however, it refers to the practice of “genetic slavery” that exists in the Honorverse, namely the breeding of genetically-engineered humans born into slavery.
Without giving away too much plot, there’s a VERY interesting romance between two of the characters, Lt. Thandi Palane of the Solarian Marine Corps and Special Officer Victor Cachat of the Republic of Haven’s Federal Investigations Agency. If you don’t want me to spoil even the few details and dialogue I am going to share, stop reading now and order the book.
Throughout the book, Thandi is attracted to Victor, who’s the somewhat-typical strong, silent, mysterious secret agent. Thandi’s no shrinking violet herself. She’s an officer in one of the largest military forces in the Honorverse, and is from a heavy gravity planet originally settled by colonists of Bantu descent who have evolved into quite physically powerful examples humanity. Thandi is easily the strongest, fastest and most powerful character in the book, however, her internal dialogue suggests that she’s attracted to Victor because of his dominant personality, and she repeatedly admonishes herself for being “kinky” in her fantasies about him, though these fantasies are only alluded to initially.
A bit past the midway point in the book, however, Thandi and Victor do *ahem* pair off, and the initial verbal foreplay between them suggests what’s to come. Victor jokingly says “I suppose resistance would be futile, huh? How could I stop you from ravishing me?” to which Thandi replies “As it happens, Victor, my inclinations run entirely the opposite direction.”
Now normally, in a Weber book, this would be about all of a “sex scene” as you’d get. His books don’t tend to be very graphic in that regard, and when sex does occur, its in passing as part of character development, but certainly not what one would call graphic.
However, about 20 pages later, the reader is treated to a fairly extended discussion of just what Thandi and Victor were up to.
“For a brief moment, Victor gave thanks that Thandi Palane enjoyed being sexually submissive. If she hadn’t, he’d probably be a corpse. ‘Dominating’ her had been like a mortal ‘dominating’ a goddess – a feat which was only possible because the goddess willed it herself.
“And that, of course – given Victor’s capacity for self-reproach – was the main thing which held him paralyzed. As episode after episode from the night before flashed through his mind, he began to plunge into an abyss of guilt and remorse. The problem wasn’t that he’d acceded to Thandi’s wishes. Deeds were simply deeds, after all. Victor had committed acts far worse – by many orders of magnitude – than anything he’d done the night before and, more or less, shrugged them off afterward.
“But that was because he hadn’t enjoyed them. Whereas…
“‘I’m a pervert,’ he thought bleakly.”
A few pages later, Thandi and Ginny Usher, the wife of Victor’s boss and a former genetic slave, mercilessly tease Victor, including the following lovely quotes:
“Have you had a chance to do any window-shopping here yet, Ginny? I’ll bet a place like this has a great leather shop.”
“Chains too, I think. You’d look fantastic in chains. The barbarian princess, at the mercy of her conqueror.”
“- I’m thinking I’ll have to get Victor some kind of whip. Nothing heavy-duty, of course. I’m not really a masochist, I just like to play at it. But I’ve seen those cute little velvet things. The couldn’t do more than sting a bit.”
Ahh, I love it when two of my favorite things mesh so nicely. Aside from the scenes described above and the repeated use of the word “kinky” (I honestly lost count), this is one of my favorite books so far in the series and is already planned to lead-off a sub-series of its own.
Now I just wonder…are we ever going to get to see Victor’s whip?