Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ritual of Proof by Dara Joy

So I was looking at this fun blog and this particular entry, besides being hilarious, made me curious about the book. So I went to Amazon and the huge amount of highly diverging reviews, made me even more curious. As I was off to the library with the kiddies later that morning, I was pleased to find the book in the hardcover version, which, I must note, was quite attractive and tasteful. Anyhoo, this was my first foray into Sci-Fi romance (except for an Ellora's Cave, which was all about the kink really--there are lots of bdsm planets, it seems). And it was...interesting and pretty clever. ROP (as I will call it) takes place on a planet where, it is insinuated, a ship of radical feminists crashed and proceeded to settle a civilization based upon regency romance novels except with the traditional gender roles/balance of power reversed. Hmmm, Yes, Okay. Well, I could buy a group of radical feminists wanting to destroy traditional society and recreate a new one, and I can even buy that they might want to subjugate men, particularly if they were those mean 70's Andrea Dworkin type feminists, but Regency? Please. Why would they recreate a society with such a rigid social hierarchy? I guess they weren't Marxist Feminists, because they sure don't care about social equality. Although, I do find it amusing that the old docs in the archives are romances. Anyway, shall we press on? The plot is the spirited young lady chafing against societal restrictions married off(against her will?) to the strong yet fair aristocrat who can take her in hand. Can they love and live together in harmony? Except of course, the young untried lady is a man and the older, more experienced peer is a woman. Whatever, it was fun. I really did like the hero, Jorlan. I didn't find him wimpy or overly submissive. I thought that Joy did a good job of making him strong, yet still be "the wife." Green, the heroine was a little annoying and arrogant, but then I think that it's my own gender assumptions that made me uncomfortable with her. By the way, the reviews on Amazon are fascinating to read. So many readers were so uncomfortable with this premise. It seems as though romance readers want traditional gender roles and male alphas. In their books, that is. I found this to be an unusual and entertaining read. It does require a strong suspension of disbelief (don't get me started on the "male hymen", that shit must chafe in one's trousers), a tolerance for dumb sci-fi speak (klees, kloos, mack-mock etc.), and a bit of open-mindedness. I must say, despite the intriguing premise, this book didn't say anything to deep about gender. The role reversals were too pat. For a fantasy world in which females rule, and it's a lot more interesting, read the "Blood Jewels" trilogy by Anne Bishop. They are more straight up fantasy, but there is also some romance. And they rock. So , so hard.

P.S. I was curious to see if Joy had placed any other novels in this world so I went to her website. It seems that Ms. Joy is tied up in some sort of litigation with her publisher, unfortunately. But check out this incredible cover. Ha. Cat did get my tongue indeed.


Bam said...

I LOVE the Blood trilogy! Have you read the others? Like The Invisible Ring and Dreams Made Flesh, I think? They're pretty good.

Rosario said...

I was curious to see if Joy had placed any other novels in this world so I went to her website.

I did the same thing. I got the feeling she was setting up River for his own book.