Friday, 22 January 2016
LGBT REVIEW: ASHAMET: DESERT BORN BY TERRY JACKMAN
Ashamet: Desert Born, by Terry Jackman
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1940076225Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes
Terry Jackman is a woman of many talents, a coordinator of the British Science Fiction Association writers' group, Orbits, a freelance editor and assistant editor for Albedo One in Ireland. She is also a tutor, professional picture framer and has seminars, articles, guest appearances, study guides and exam papers under her belt that amasses ten years worth of work.
Ashamet: Desert Born is Jackman's début novel where protagonist prince Ashamet is to be married off to a woman who will hopefully bear him heirs to stop outsiders trying to take the throne from him. This is a sound idea, but he is as uninterested in his future wife as he is in the pomp and circumstance involved in the gift giving ceremony where he is plied with offerings from both friends and foes who want to gain favour with the prince and his father. One offering in particular turns the princes head, an unusual package that is unveiled to reveal a handsome young man in a cage. Most, it seems are aware of Ashamet's appetite for men, and they don't seem to mind as long as he goes ahead with the wedding.
The Kadduchi males have a preference for their own sex in a world where women are scarce. Men also have what are called body slaves, or sex slaves who are raised as virgins and live only to serve their new masters and cater to all their tastes and perversions. Having grown fond of their slaves, they do however have some who prefer to buy female slaves, even though they come at a hefty price. Stranger still is the odd offering of a slave Ashamet has been given. He is interested in him, but everyone in the kingdom has noticed how ill he looks and what makes it worse is no one knows what ails him. Only that when two other slaves are removed from the quarters, he perks up. The slave remains an enigma for a while as Ashamet believes he could be a weapon sent by his enemies as attempts had been made on his life before, and there could be more attempts if his guard is down.
Jackman's desert setting exudes the heat of the sun and heated moments where Ashamet is annoyed with his father, servants and his gift/body slave, Keril. He intrigues him as he tells Ashamet he is not supposed to be touched. At first Ashamet thinks he is being disobedient, then later learns it is the way he has been raised. Routine palace life is mixed with scenes where Ashamet tries to understand Keril's motive for refusing him in bed. The intrigue is in whether Ashamet's enemies are still trying to kill him, or if Keril has a rare potential as a priest sent by the gods to influence him in other ways. Jackman's story is filled with mystery as Ashamet fears he can't trust anyone, even those closest to him. The pacing is good and Jackman makes readers wait for the right moment where Ashamet will successfully seduce Keril, though he is firm with him at first, He doesn't beat Keril or punish him as other masters would have. He had learned that Keril had been starved and knew little of the yearnings in men's hearts. There is tension and strong emotion in this novel that isn't slow to draw the reader into the main plot points. The question is will Ashamet win over his body slave, Keril, or will his enemies succeed in killing their prince? The setting could be anywhere, but is more likely in Egypt or Africa where the desert sands hide many secrets. For those who liked reading the Thousand and One Nights stories, this could be one straight from their pages, only it is in a more adult form with a touch of LGBT added flavour.