This alternate cover showing a homoerotic scene with a naked man stabbing at another naked man with a long, pointy object sums up the rest of Slave of Sarma more accurately than you’d think. You’ll see what I mean.
We pick back up with Blade and Pelops in chains, being force-marched toward Samarcid, the capital of Sarma. It’s a three-day journey and they are in a long line of slaves/Battlemen. Princess Zeena was supposed to have gone to her mother the queen and tell her what a wonderful guy Blade was, how great he was in bed, etc. The idea being that Blade will get the royal treatment as Zeena’s bae, instead of whips, chains, and fiery death. By this time it’s clear that something has gone badly wrong with that plan.
Let us note here that Pelops had previously sworn to Blade that he would never be a slave again, and Blade had told him “Hey, it’s cool, so not gonna happen, man.” So this plan of Blade’s to infiltrate Sarmacid via the Battlemen? Which has landed the two of them right back in the chain gang? Kind of a shitty thing to do to Pelops.
Pelops is not the great, strapping hunk of beef that Blade is, so he’s not holding up well under the strain of these forced marches. Blade tries to nurse him along, because if Pelops falls too many times or gives up the slavers will just cut him down.
As they draw near the city, Pelops tells Blade more about the Queen, whom Blade will presumably soon meet (and, even more presumably, soon bang):
“Queen Pphira is cruel and hard, though not so much as Equebus, and she is jealous of her throne and her beauty. It is whispered that she orders girl children destroyed not because they are sick or ill-formed, but because they show signs of beauty. She has lived forever and will live forever. She has had ten thousand lovers and her beauty never fades. She never ages and will never die.”
Blade is skeptical of Pelops’s claims about the queen’s immortality. This is because Blade is an idiot.
I mean, c’mon. This is Dimension X, motherfucker. The sea is purple, there are giant crabs, and women wear boob armor with no bras. Why shouldn’t it also feature an immortal witch queen named Pphira?
(Somehow, the pronunciation guide is missing from the back of my copy of this book, so I have no idea how to pronounce that double-p in ‘Pphira’. I like to think it’s properly done by sputtering whenever you say it, and that if you inadvertantly spray the queen with saliva while addressing her it is considered a sign of respect and honor.)
Despite being eternally young and beautiful and the woman on top, it seems that all does not go P-p-phira’s way these days. Pelops tells Blade that a cruel man named Otto the Black forces her to pay him a hefty tribute every year.
“When Otto the Black arrives there will be sacrifices, and slaves and criminals will be executed. It is always so when The Black comes. Girl children are given to Bek – the criminals and slaves who are condemned go to Tor.”
The forced march having coincidentally ended just as Pelops finishes all this exposition, Equebus appears and tells Blade that he is summoned by Queen Ppppppphira.
Blade reflects on what he knows of the Queen:
As Queen she had the right to take as many lovers as she chose, where and when she wished. The lovers might be men or women. Perversion was not in the Sarmian vocabulary. Probably, thought Blade, because no one had thought of it yet. Just as nobody had thought of the wheel.
Oh yes, I suppose I should mention the whole wheel thing. Apparently the Sarmians, though otherwise a decently advanced culture – with telescopes and sailing ships and systems of law and shit – haven’t gotten around to inventing the wheel yet. So quaint, these Dimension Xers!
Blade is escorted to the queen’s audience chamber in chains. There he is informed that his marriage to Zeena has been annulled, and that she has been sentenced to banishment and hard rowing on a ‘punishment ship’. Then the queen’s advisers, known as the Council of Five, debate what to do with Blade. One of the council suggests they give Blade to Otto the Black.
“Now, we all know Otto’s tastes – therefore I suggest that we make him a present of this Blade. It will make a fine first impression. And when Otto has used him he will give him back to us and we can make a sacrifice to Tor.”
Holy homophobia, Batman!
The exciting prospect of being sodomized by Otto the Black does not distract Blade from ogling the royal tits, which are naturally on full display for this special occasion:
Unlike the other Sarmian women he had seen, Pphira wore no breastplates. She was as bare to the waist as Blade himself. Her breasts were surprisingly small, more like the breasts of a young girl than those of an “agless” woman, but were very firm and white and with long brown nipples each surrounded by a vermilion aureole.
Blade has an eye for tits the way some people have an eye for interior design.
At any rate, the adviser most dedicated to the idea of getting rid of Blade is an old priest named Kreed. Blade suspects him of being in league with Equebus, though he doesn’t know why. Kreed pushes hard for the Queen to send Blade to Otto. The Queen thinks it over.
Queen Pphira absently stroked one of her small pale breasts. Even at this moment, with his life in the balance, Blade felt himself aroused.
Blade is trying to send out his Dick Blade vibes to the queen so she will want to make him her sex slave rather than sending him off to be gay-raped. At first, it seems like she’s not picking up what he’s putting down – but then he sees a ‘gleam in her eyes’ when she looks at him, and the queen declares that he is to be a guest of Sarmian hospitality… if you know what I mean.
I mean she wants to bang him like a djembe in a drum circle.
There is one small wrinkle, though. The queen already has a boy toy, a blind dude named Tarsu. And while in Sarma the queen is allowed to sex up whoever she wants quite openly (not to mention run around topless), apparently having more than one lover at a time is a bridge too far. Okay, that seems arbitrary to me, but I’m not Narnian. I mean, Sarmian.
Clearly there is only one solution: for Blade and Tarsu to fight to the death to see who gets to dunk their submersible into Queen Pphira’s Marianas Trench.
To make things fair, Blade has to fight the blind Tarsu in total darkness. Oh and they’ve also given Tarsu a sword while Blade gets no weapon because he’s… bigger? That doesn’t seem quite as fair. But at least Blade isn’t fighting a guy who is on a horse with a bow this time. Silver linings, folks.
A rather unpleasant servant with torch escorts Blade to an underground chamber. There is a wooden partition across the middle of the chamber. The servant informs Blade that Tarsu is on the other side. When the servant exits the room with his torch, plunging it into total darkness, the partition will rise and battle will commence.
What follows is probably one of the most engaging one-on-one combats in the series so far. Blade is forced to use all his senses to evade Tarsu’s sword, even as Tarsu’s keenly honed hearing means that he is able to navigate the black room nimbly. The darkness adds a real element of real tension to the scene.
After several close shaves, Blade manages to make his way back to the stairs that lead down into the room and to wedge himself up above them.
He hung there, naked but for the leathern kilt, very much aware that his genitals were cruelly exposed to the sword. He scowled in the dark. Grim irony if he should lose his manhood, kill Tarsu, and then go castrated to Pphira.
If we’ve learned anything about Blade by now, it is that he’s only afraid of one thing: something happening to his pube kabob.
Fortunately, Blade is able to get the drop on Tarsu without sacrificing either his meatballs or his cannoli. Then he kills him.
Equebus and the priest Kreed are not thrilled to see that Blade survived the fight. But he is cleaned up and taken to the queen, who has apparently been lying on her bed looking sexy, waiting to see who the victor would be, this entire time. When Blade enters her bed chamber, she’s all like “Hey, glad you won!” I’ll bet she says that to all the gladiators.
Blade doesn’t need any further invitation. He starts taking command of the situation. In Blade’s world, the man should always be on top. Or behind. Or hanging upside down in a latex Santa suit with a carrot up his ass. Whatever. The point is, the man should be in charge!
The queen objects to this. In Sarma, the woman is supposed to be dominant in bed. But if you figured that Blade overcomes her objections through sheer manliness and penis-power – even when the queen threatens breathlessly to have him killed – you’re not wrong.
[Blade] growled back. “Later! First I will have my way with you. I have killed a man for you and I intend to have my reward. My way! I know of your Sarmian love making and I cannot say I care for it. This night Pphira, you will learn something – even as I taught your daughter.”
(Sidenote: this scene features the actual word ‘vagina’, as in Three fingers now deep in her vagina. It seems to me like this is the first time Manning Lee Stokes hasn’t just referred to it as ‘womanhood’ or a ‘pink crevice’ or some shit. Basic anatomy, people! Yes, ladies have vajayjays! Sometimes they let the man put his pee-pee in them! And that’s how babies are made.)
Anyway, Blade forcefully overcomes the queen’s objections and soon the two are bumping and grinding with gusto. Blade is really feeling it.
[Blade] was little more than an extension of his penis now.
Let’s be real – Blade has never been much more than an extension of his penis.
Once Blade has satisfied the queen – which takes a while – he takes advantage of the post-coital glow to ask for Pelops to be given to him as his servant. The queen also reveals that Kreed and Equebus are plotting together because they are lovers. Blade is all like, no homo! Then she reveals the real shocker – Equebus is her son!
DUN DUN DUUU – wait, who the fuck cares??
She tells Blade that Equebus is the only son she’s ever borne. His father was a man from the land of the Moghs, far to the south, which I’m sure we will not visit at some point during the course of this book.
Blade, for his part, is a bit distracted since he is busy thinking about how this little hottie is a total GILF:
He held her close, marveling, remembering the gray in the beard of Equebus, knowing that she must be an old woman by Home Dimension standards. This was hard to believe as he stroked the tender white flesh and gazed down at the firm unwrinkled face, the taut little breasts, the firm legs. Ageless indeed.
I’ll be she just does a lot of hot yoga.
Blade is a bit concerned about Zeena, either for form’s sake or because she has the bigger pair of tits, but the queen is way over that bitch. Apparently when Zeena showed up in the capital and started preaching the good news about Blade’s penis, the queen decided she wanted a taste herself and banished her daughter. Zeena’s on an all-female punishment ship with only a single man for captain. (Women, Pphira tells him, don’t make good sea captains. Sigh.) Queen Pphira will not bring Zeena back.
Blade tried to imagine what it would be like to captain a ship full of women. He came up with some pretty lurid ideas and had to chuckle.
Yeah, I’m guessing it’s not like that. Well, maybe in the adolescent sexual fantasy universes that make up this book series.
Guess whose back? Otto the Black! He’s here to pick up his annual tribute, which is 100 tons of meta. Blade keeps hearing about this valuable meta shit, supposedly mined in some nearby mountains, but he doesn’t know what exactly it is. Pelops, now returned to Blade, tells him that the Meta Mines are very dangerous and men sicken and die in them.
Scene change: lade, Pelops, and a bunch of other slaves are on a boat! They’re floating in the harbor of Sarmacid, getting ready to take part in a big sea battle to be held in honor of Otto the Black. A massive chain is stretched across the mouth of the harbor to keep slaves from getting any bright ideas about sailing off into the sunset.
Oh, bee tee dubs, the slave that lead Blade into the dungeon where he fought the blind guy is back and on board the ship. His name is Chephron. He used to be a slave in the mines before volunteering to be an executioner. He’s pocked and malformed and has sores from his time in the mines. Blade doesn’t like him, partly because their prior encounter wasn’t super friendly and partly because Dick Blade doesn’t hang with ugly people. But apparently Chephron is totes BFFs with Pelops, so Blade has to put up with him.
Blade also has a crew and a lieutenant named Ixion. Blade has had Ixion secretly working on weakening the big chain across the harbor all night, having given him instructions on how to create a file (yet another thing the Sarmians somehow haven’t invented yet). The chain is now weakened at a point near the center.
In addition to his own ship and crew, Blade is commanding a fleet of small ships for Team Queen. Facing them are Team Otto.
Otto the Black has rigged these games in his favor, though, giving his own side the largest ship and putting a catapult on its deck. The despised Equebus captains this vessel.
Otto is seated on shore, next to the queen. He’s super fat and his beard is full of candles. Remember, Otto is homosexual, and therefore evil.
Otto raised a fat hand and dropped a gayly colored scarf.
VERY gayly colored, I’ll bet!
Anyway, that’s the signal, it’s battlin’ time.
Blade’s fleet of smaller ships is more maneuverable than Equebus’s floating fortress. Blade also has the advantage of his various ‘inventions’ – more stupid shit that the Sarmians haven’t thought of – which help him coordinate his ships and attack Equebus in ways he does not expect. Describing this whole sea battle would be tedious, so I’ll just fast forward to the salient points.
Blade manages to cause chaos with firepots and a staged slave uprising on some of Otto’s ships. Then he spearheads a boarding party onto Equebus’s vessel, dispatching most of the enemies himself in typically heroic style.
Eventually Blade and co. take the flagship. Blade is hankering to finally go toe-to-toe, mano y mano, with Equebus, but Equebus is all like, “No way, I read the last three books.” So instead Blade has Equebus bound to a rock mounted on the catapult. This he aims at Otto the Black on shore – Blade has already given the queen a secret signal to make an excuse and leave. The catapult is launched, and of course it goes plopping down right on top of Otto the Black, presumably smashing both he and Equebus instantly into a juicy stain.
Blade and his crew return to their ship. They row like crazy for the mouth of the harbor, hit the chain square on, and force their way through it. To quote The Simpsons: Freedom! Horrible horrible freedom!
The next chapter represents a dramatic shift in the style of the narrative. It begins so:
From the writings of Aknir, Palace Philosopher of Greater Sarma, in the year 10536 AB – After Blade – concerning the Secret of the Oxem:
Yes, it seems Blade’s deeds have passed into legend in Sarma, so much so that this latter day Sarmian philosopher is ruminating on whether he ever existed. This chapter is written from the perspective of Aknir, who is pondering and translating some ship’s logs that have washed up on the shores of the Purple Sea sealed in a leather bottle (‘The Oxem’): they concern a figure of near-mythological status in Sarmian history – Blade.
I have to admit, it’s a clever conceit – not to mention, a nice change of pace. And it allows Stokes to get through a solid stretch of plot without descending into tedious, elaborate detail.
From the translated logs we learn that Blade is heading south across the Purple Sea, still searching for his double, the various escaped slaves his crew
Hey, you remember that meta shit? The stuff that they mine and makes everybody sick? Blade has finally cottoned on to what it is, thanks to Chephron, who kept getting sores thanks to the ‘lucky’ piece of it he kept in his pocket. Meta is, of course, the hideously radioactive metal uranium, as he discovers when he examines a glowing piece of it in the dark. Blade is excited. Mountains of uranium! This is something that would be of actual, practical use to Lord L and J.
Of course, so far the only things Blade have been able to bring back to the Home Dimension are whatever he happens to be clutching in his hand the moment the computer drags him back through, which somehow always happens during a bout of lovemaking. Imagine the number of buxom princesses and scheming queens he’d have to pork to bring back mountains of uranium!
The log continues on some time after the discovery of the uranium. Blade decides to take the ship south towards the Burning Land. You may remember that the Burning Land is where Queen Pphira’s lover that gave her her son Equebus came from. Or you may not remember. Perhaps you don’t care. That is absolutely fair! In fact, this is one of those plot threads that Stokes keeps bringing back up like it’s going to be really important, but then we get to the point and it’s not really that big a deal.
The sailors on Blade’s ship are scared of the storms on the open sea that they will have to cross to get to the Burning Land. Blade breezily dismisses their concerns, which turns out to be a mistake when they ship runs into a massive typhoon with mountainous waves that practically tear the ship to pieces.
The storm passes and Blade exhorts his exhausted crew to put the ship back together. But Ixion has bad news – they are only experiencing a moment of calm and that in a day or two the storm will hit again, worse than before. Apparently that’s how these Purple Sea Storms work. Blade orders the crew to row as hard as they can south in hopes of hitting land before the storm returns.
Instead of sighting land, though, the crew spots a sinking ship in the distance. What could it be? If you guessed that it’s a punishment ship full of sexy prisoner ladies you get 500 points and advance to our bonus round!
“Women aboard her, sir! Women!”
I could hear the muttering all through Pphira at the word. Women! More trouble.
I shot a glance at Ixion. “What do you make of it? Could it be one of the Queen’s punishment ships?”
Ixion took the glass from me and studied the ship. With my naked eye I could see women leaping and shouting aboard her, waving their hands and bits of colored cloth. Most of them were bare breasted. No sign of a man.
I guess flashing your tits is one way to make sure you get rescued.
The sailors are suspicious of this supposed punishment ship, thinking that perhaps it is a trap and that it is swarming with pirates belowdecks. But this is not the case, as Blade relates in a log entry:
It turned out that the priates had taken a galless, one of the Queen’s punishment ships. They killed the Captain, one Marius and the only man aboard – did not Queen Pphira mention that name to me? – and they had a lot of fun with the ugly women before they tossed them overboard or slit their throats. The cream of the crop, of the women crew, criminals under Sarmian law and set to the oars, the pirates took aboard their own ship. All women, as I found out later, were communal property.
Hey if you feel really dirty right now and want to take a shower, go ahead! This blog will still be here when you get back. This book too, unfortunately.
Getting back to the plot, Blade decides that he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. He splits the crew in two, putting Ixion in charge of half, which he sends over to the other ship to repair it and hopefully to sail it.
Before they do this, though, Ixion makes a request of Blade:
“If I am to have nearly half the men, Captain, and a ship of my own, I will also need some of the women. Surely you see that? Otherwise there will be fighting and mutiny. These men are slaves, as I was, and some have not had a woman in years.”
Pelops nodded at me. “He is right, sire.”
Of course he was right. I was in Sarma and had to do as the Sarmians did.
“Find the Princess Zeena,” I told Pelops curtly. “If she is among them. I do not care what you do with the others.”
Oh, sorry. Feel like you need another shower already? I get it. I’ll wait.
All clean? Great. So, here our scholar/translator cuts in and tells us that the next few pages are missing or hard to read. Hmm. It is clear, however, that Blade found Princess Zeena on board the ship,
though not as he remembered her, and he found another woman as well. One would indeed give much to know the outcome of all this, of this triangle, if in fact it ever happened. Alas that we cannot know.
The remaining women are divided between the two ships as Ixion. The scholar briefly imagines what fun, sexy times everybody must have had. The women, he says, were naturally down with the whole arrangement. Sure! The ship full of women who had just been raped by pirates now lets themselves be raped by escaped slaves out of gratitude. That’s definitely how that would work!
You’re probably wondering what’s up with our friend Zeena the Warrior Princess. Do Zeena and Blade have happy, passionate reunion sex? No. Blade’s logs explains Zeena’s situation:
Zeena did not recognize me. She is in very bad shape mentally. It is clear that she had a bad time among the pirates. The other one, Canda, seems not to have been harmed.
[Zeena] has been passed from hand to hand by the pirates, that much is obvious, and it has tipped her over the edge.
Yeah, so basically Blade’s feisty princess has been raped by pirates until she’s lost her mind. Blade no doubt gets over this setback quickly, though. Sexy Princess Canda, who is very much in her right mind and doesn’t have many clothes to wear, is here to help ease poor Blade’s sadness over the fate of his beloved Zeena.
What – you want a third shower?!?
The log ends abruptly with the crews of the two ships making frantic preparations as the next phase of the Purple Storm appears ominously on the horizon. Did our hero survive?!????
The book now returns to its more ordinary narrative style. Blade is trekking across the ‘burning lands’ which are, of course, a desert.
Blade envied the man he meant to kill.
His doppelganger, the Russian agent, was living a life of luxury at the court of El Kal, King of the Moghs.
This vital piece of information comes from Replacement Zeena, er, Princess Canda. The storm wrecked Blade’s ship, but it also drove it to shore. The survivors of the shipwreck from are now slogging across the desert, trying to reach a distant oasis. Canda claims that once they reach that oasis, a party from the Kingdom of Mogh will arrive to whisk them away to that land.
Blade is dubious about whether this will actually happen. He is also dubious about whether they can even make it to the oasis, and also whether he’s not about to have a serious wardrobe malfunction:
Blade had a pair of leather breeches, fast wearing out in the crotch, and his sword.
Jeez, Blade, you need to lay off polishing your pocket rocket, okay?
Blade’s got plenty of inspiration for spanking it, though. Princess Canda’s clothing situation is also increasingly precarious:
Naked to the waist, with a twist of linen about her loins, sunburned and tousled and as filthy as any of them, yet utterly lovely.
More like ‘udderly lovely’. Blade doesn’t fail to take careful notes on her pink budded breasts for a couple sentences, but I’ll spare you.
There are only a few of them left: Blade, Pelops, Chephron, and the two women. And, let’s be honest, Pelops and Chephron don’t really count. For that matter, neither does Zeena at this point. So basically it’s just mostly-naked Blade and mostly-naked sexy princess. Will Blade and Canda play two-ball in the middle pocket, you wonder?
Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?
We don’t have to wait long for events to unfold. The desert sun goes down, everybody else hits the hay, and the Princess approaches Blade.
“I am very cold, Captain Blade.”
She looked cold. Her delicious breasts were goose pimpled.
Canda starts putting the moves on Blade. As usual, the Dick Blade Super Nose(tm) smells her ‘womany musk’ or some shit. Blade begins to worry his banana hammock might not hold out.
[A] massive protuberance strained against the rotten leather. She stared. At that moment the leather parted with a ripping sound.
Canda stood staring at him for a moment. She shivered. “I am not so cold as I was.”
Explaining to everyone in the morning that you’re naked because of your uncontrollable boner is going to be awkward, Blade.
Needless to say, Blade and Canda get down to making whoopie. After they finish, Canda tells Blade that she can’t decide.
“Which of you is best. Which gives me the greatest pleasure. You or your twin.”
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!
Yes, Zeena knows all about Blade’s double, although she’s been holding out on telling him. Blade is pretty concerned about what his doppelganger might have waiting for him. But when they reach the oasis, the Mogh villagers there treat them well, apparently on the orders of the double himself, and an escort is sent to bring them to the capital
Pelops has decided he wants to try and shove off back to Sarma. Blade asks Pelops if he wants to be known as a genius. Pelops, of course, does. So Blade teaches him about the wheel so that he can enlighten the dull Sarmians who, I’ll remind you, somehow know about iron chains but not about iron files.
Luckily for said Sarmians, a white savior has passed through their midst. Naturally he will rescue them with the enlightened wisdom of his western civilization! And, of course, plonk their women.
At any rate, now we know how Blade goes on to be so legendary in Sarma. Let’s fast-forward a bit.
Blade finally makes it to Mogh and is brought to the palace of El Kal, who is Superman’s, er, Princess Canda’s father. Here he finally meets his rival and twin. The man really is identical to him, down to a scar on his stomach. He is going by the name Gemma.
Gemma and Blade have a frank talk. Blade is surprised to learn that Gemma doesn’t consider them enemies. Gemma tells Blade that he loves Dimension X. He has a high rank, he spends all day lounging about the palace drinking wine, and he gets to shag all the slender maidens he can lay hands on. To illustrate this point, he casually molests a servant girl right in front of Blade.
Why would Gemma want to go back? He and Blade could rule the universe as father and son! Er, twin brothers.
There is a little fly in the ointment, though. It seems that Kal El – sorry, El Kal – has decided that one square-jawed secret agent with an overeager boner is enough. So either Blade or Gemma will be chosen to be Canda’s consort, and the other will be exiled. The insatiable Canda is down with having both men, but that’s just not the way things are done in Mogh Town.
That night, Blade meets El Kal El. Or at least, a giant idol that belches smoke and speaks in a booming voice – and looks suspiciously like our old friend Equebus. Blade soon discovers that the idol is a trick, and that daddy Kal is actually down there somewhere with a speaking tube. No points to Blade for guessing this. The Wizard of Oz pulled this stunt, what, forty years earlier?
El Kal is clearly getting advice from his daughter while he’s talking to Blade, because Blade can hear Canda whispering over the speaking tube. El Kal/Canda declare that the contest between Blade and Gemma will be to see who is better at stuffin’ Canda’s muffin over the course of four nights.
Dick Blade, human penis, is of course totes up for this challenge. This, despite enduring increasingly painful headaches. Lord L’s computer, it seems, is reaching out to bring him back.
Blade gets the first night with Canda. When he shows up, she offers him some herbs which are basically Mogh Viagra, but he turns them down. Which maybe isn’t the best idea, as the princess makes him go at it all night. Blade is exhausted, but the princess – portrayed throughout this process as wanton and scheming – is ready for his double the next night.
On the third night Blade returns to the princess’s chamber once again, but something is wrong. Blade notes that the herbal Viagra has been used up, presumably by the Russian. But more troubling is the fact that he quickly realizes that Canda has been drugged. Despite her state, Canda insists that Blade shuck her oyster pronto, or she’ll have him beheaded. Blade plunges in, literally. Then he feels a sharp point in his back. Gemma is there, behind him, holding a spear to him while he prongs the princess.
Gemma tells him that he’s gonna kill Blade (letting Blade finish, first, of course – he’s a gentleman!) and that he’s hoping the computer won’t pull him back so he can stay in Dimension X forever.
Suddenly, Blade attempts to dodge away from the spear. He gets stabbed for his trouble, but sort of lightly, and manages to get out of harm’s way. The naked, drugged woman he was just bopping is not so lucky. Gemma accidentally stabs Canda in the boob, and she starts bleeding out. Blade dodges around the bed chamber, naked, while another man tries to spear him… hmm. Er, anyway, Blade manages to get the spear away from Gemma. Then all of a sudden the headache hits both of them full force. Knowing they’re about to be pulled into the Home Dimension, Blade quickly spears Gemma through the heart, killing him.
Basically, it’s a real shitshow.
Blade returns to our world with the head of the spear. It has, in addition to his and the double’s blood on its tip, Canda’s blood, which is apparently very exotic and scientifically significant. Blade is unconscious and wounded, so J and Lord L fill us in on all this in their usual dull-as-ditch-water style. Lord L is convinced that Blade will recover, as he has 33 books to go. J, meanwhile, is puzzling over the words that Blade keeps repeating as he tosses and turns in his hospital bed –
“Maybe the Russian was right.”
Yeah, Blade, he probably was.
Let’s see, where to start. There are just so many choices!
I mean, you’ve got your usual sexism and racism, obviously. But let’s look at what’s new and objectionable! The past few books haven’t really had the chance to express much in the way of frank, blatant homophobia, but Slave of Sarma makes up for that by really piling it on.
Equebus and Kreed are outed as secret gay lovers, so by definition they must also be wicked and conniving. Blade also speculates to Queen Pphira that since Kreed is a much older man, Equebus probably doesn’t return Kreed’s affection in any significant way. He must just be using him.
Obviously these degenerate homos are deserving of punishment meted out by the wholesome Blade. Blade drowns Kreed during the boat fight and of course launches Equebus out of a catapult. Blade really demonstrates a vengeful streak towards gay men. Projection, much?
But Equebus and Kreed really get off lightly compared to Otto the Black. Of course the book is at pains to tell us that Otto the Black is way homo – and therefore, obviously, a child rapist.
There was no news in the fact that Otto was a fanatical pederast and that he liked unwilling victims above all. Rumor had it that Otto employed twelve strong men, all ex-favorites, to hold his screaming love objects securely while he attacked.
It’s stated several times that if Blade loses out to Equebus and Kreed at any time he’ll be sent to the hideously fat Otto and his gangbang gang to be gang raped. Of course everybody cheers when the fat, perverted caricature is bloodily pulped by a giant boulder.
The implication in this volume is basically that anyone who is a homosexual is also a cunning backstabber and a pervert capable of raping boys and men alike; also, that they deserve whatever messy death is coming to them.
Blade of course is supposed to be über-straight; a wholesome, righteous banger of leather-clad bimbos. This, notwithstanding the many, many lavish descriptions we are treated to of Blade’s strapping, manly physique, which somehow manages to be unclothed and exposed to the world most of the time. Every book also manages to shoehorn in at least one scene with some serious homoerotic overtones. Blade does hand to hand combat with another man while they’re both naked… Blade has a man apply ointment to his bare body… Blade gets a rectal exam…
No homo, though, amirite?!?
There aren’t any human trans characters in this book, but based on Blade’s disgusted reaction to the hermaphrodite idols of Bek-Tor, that is probably just as well.
These kinds of attitudes are just baked into this book at all levels, and you have to cringe a bit to think of a generation of American males being raised on this shit.
In other news that’s not news, women continue to get their usual shoddy treatment in Slave of Sarma. The book actually seems to go out of its way to inject little moments of misogyny here, there, and everywhere, some of which we’ve highlighted (but believe me – there were many more!).
Similar to Jewel of Tharn, Slave of Sarma introduces a matriarchal society – which is then shown to be poorly run by perpetually horny women. Of course the benighted Sarmians need a real man like Blade to set them straight. Blade shows the queen and her daughter who is boss in bed. Then he saves them from the awful Otto the Black, the evil man who is already dominating them. The none-to-subtle message is that men must be dominant at all times, whether when making leadership decisions or engaging in sexual behaviors.
I know a lot of folks bristle at the term ‘toxic masculinity’, but that’s nothing more or less than what all this adds up to. These are the kind of impossible standards that lead men to feel that they must constantly display their masculinity and that to show any sign of weakness might as well equal castration. Which of course leads to repression and self-destructive behaviors and lots of other social ills.
Okay, enough with the preaching, sorry. I’ll stop
Wait! We haven’t talked about how Princess Zeena is (off-screen, thankfully) raped until she loses her mind! Or about how Blade divvies up a ship full of rape victims to horny sailors!
So yeah, that happened.
Other than being insanely regressive, characterizing LGBT characters like monsters, and treating women as little more than disposable tissues – this book was not terrible! As I said at the top of this review, it was a much better read over all compared to the first book in the series. At least up until the ending, which was kind of nasty.
I put this overall improvement primarily down to pacing. Manning Lee Stokes manages to keep this one moving at a brisk pace, for the most part. There are some decent action scenes, too, in particular the duel in the dark with the blind guy. And not all the action is in the arena – some of the horizontal combat was pretty steamy too, if you get my drift!
I’m talking about fucking.
Hey, let’s score this thing and go home, huh? Here’s how it stacks up on the Highly Objective Blade Series Scorecard:
- Blade gets greased up by Lord L – always.
- Blade is forced to be someone’s sex slave – of course.
- Blade bones an underage girl – sorry, missed opportunity!
- Blade bones an older woman who looks like a young woman – oh yes!
- Blade takes on a lower class rogue with a good heart as his manservant – yep, good ol’ Pelops
- Blade befriends the bad guy’s second-in-command – nope
- Blade takes over the bad guy army – well, he does commandeer one of Queen Pphira’s boats, so we’ll say yes.
- Blade condones casual rape – not only does he condone it, he gives explicit permission for it to happen!
- Blade sleeps his way to the top – check!
- Blade drops his pants for someone – alas, no. He did get a rectal examination, though!
I count seven, and let’s tag on a bonus point for that anal probe!!! A total score of 8! Excelsior!
Check back next time when Dick Blade bops some swingin’ cavebabes in- Liberator of Jedd!