Servant of the Seasons by Lee Benoit
I’ve just finished Lee Benoit’s ‘Servant of the Seasons: Autumn‘ which I have to admit I started out on with trepidation. Why? Because she did me such a lovely interview on Speak It’s Name – spending huge amounts of time in the process – that I was afraid in case I might not like it. What would I do then?! Eek, there would be no way to avoid rudeness in one form or another!
So I’m even more overjoyed than usual at finding a new author to love, because I didn’t need to worry – this is really good stuff 🙂 What I love most about it is that it doesn’t skimp you on story. This is the blurb:
Kicked out of his home in the Domes, Edor finds himself squatting on abandoned land, taking it on as his own and trying to eke out a meagre living from the infertile soil. When his closest neighbor, Varas, offers to trade his hard-earned crop for him in the town several weeks’ walk away, Edor takes the man up on it.
Months later, when Varas still has not returned, Edor has given his hopes of getting seed for a winter crop and a beast of burden. In fact, he’s just decided that Varas has cheated him when the man returns, two slaves meant to be Edor’s in tow.
Edor frees the slaves as soon as Varas leaves, but to his surprise, the men stay with him and change his life and his land in ways Edor could never have dreamed
And for once the blurb is not misleading. Even more than that, for once the story hinted at in the blurb is not obscured by a hundred unnecessary sex scenes. Instead we’re treated to a story that takes its world building seriously! The story isn’t here just as an excuse to get to the sex. The author has devoted plenty of time to Edor’s struggles to survive in a natural world that he, as a citizen of a high tech society, simply doesn’t understand. She’s given thought to the fact that he doesn’t even know to save enough seed from his harvest to re-plant! That it never occurs to him to dry out his mud hut. She doesn’t treat slavery as a titilating excuse for dubious consent power play, she faces it head on. And because all this is so realistically portrayed, it makes it easier to accept the otherness of Edor’s two slaves, who are not quite human, but who are nevertheless – in their gentleness – a kind of glimpse of salvation for Edor. His long struggles with his own nature and his attraction to them are never rushed over, but proceed in beautiful, tentative little increments, winding the UST winch as far as it will go.
My main problem with it is that I felt we were just coming to the crisis point, things were just about to go pear shaped, Edor’s desire and loneliness were just about to get the better of him. The semi mythical terrible enemies were about to sweep in over the hill… and it stopped.
I suppose I ought not to complain. Dickens, after all, published his books in serial form. I just wish that Torquere had seen fit to warn me that I was not getting a single complete story. No offense to Lee – it’s hardly her fault – and I will be reading the next one with probably more pleasure for being forewarned, but I would rather have waited longer and got the whole thing at once.