Monday, August 13, 2012

The Sleeping Beauty Novels: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty / Beauty's Release / Beauty's Punishment

Sleeping Beauty Novels: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty / Beauty's Release / Beauty's Punishment

Review from Amazon page by: Valerhon
Once upon a time, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy was one of the best kept secrets of novelist Anne Rice's body of work, published under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. Any prolific reader of Rice's novels understands that when they open that cover, they are bound to enter a world so deeply conceived, so sumptuously described, that it takes on a life and plausibility all its own, and this series is no exception.

The tale begins with the awakening of Sleeping Beauty to ravishment by the Prince who breaks the spell of sleep on her kingdom. Indebted to the Prince, her parents consent to allow Beauty to be taken as tribute to the castle of the Prince's mother, Queen Eleanor, whose power dominates the surrounding kingdoms. Beauty is thereafter made to serve the erotic pleasures of the Queen's courtiers, male and female, who attempt to instill empathy and humility in her, and prepare her to be a wise ruler when she inherits her family's throne. This subtext of forging an entitled and spoiled aristocrat into an empathetic one is a clever and satisfying justification for the trials that Beauty must endure.

Unfortunately, Beauty and her fellow slaves Princes Alexi and Laurent, are rebellious. This results in deeper punishment, humiliations, and painfully pleasurable sexual torments. Their refusal to embrace the lessons of the Queen and her aristocracy prolongs their trials, leading to exile to a village of the common people. Here, their royal rank is meaningless and invites deeper, even resentful torments. When this also proves inadequate, they are exiled to a foreign land where they face the greatest trials of all.

To call the Beauty series pornography is to call a Rembrandt "just a painting". The eroticism is explicit, but never descends into psychological darkness. The trials are heady, playful at times, but never focused on the stereotypes of self-loathing submissives or egomaniacal dominants. The spanking, bondage and sex are a spice designed to season the characters, not destroy them. For the reader - straight, gay, or bisexual, there are characters and erotic scenes for everyone.

Another accomplishment of the series is the ambient bisexuality of all the characters that is devoid of faux moralizing. Beauty must serve the pleasure of men and women, and her male counterparts must do the same. Rice's medieval world doesn't judge orientations, but focuses like a laser on the universal pleasure of sexuality and mentoring. This gives the novels depth and an unexpected uplifting effect that lingers well beyond the turning of the final page.

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