I just finished re-reading (for the first time since my horny teen-age years, when I kept thumbing past the emotional claptrap to get to the dirty bits and the swordfights) the deeply interesting science fiction / fantasy novel “The Warrior Enchained: A Prime Empath Among the Barbarians” by Sharon Green. It’s got a number of spankings in it, although they are all pretty summary, like this one:
“Cinnan had evidently found the strap he had been searching for; he sat cross-legged on the carpet fur of the room with Aesnil draped over his lap, the skirt of her once-pretty red gown thrown back to her shoulders. The strap in his hand struck Aesnil’s bottom with a terrible, even rhythm, punishing her as though she were a child, bringing tears pouring from her eyes and wailing screams from her throat as she kicked and struggled uselessly. I could feel her deep humiliation as well as the awful blaze of pain given by the strap….”
The heroine, an empath named Terrillian, spends the whole book being carted along, effectively kidnapped, by a big lug of a barbarian whom she loves deeply, and who clearly loves her in return. However, he’s also got a world to conquer and he’s therefore busy. Worse yet, he needs her empathic skills and can’t hide the fact, which convinces her that he doesn’t really love her even though he manifestly does.
So she spends the whole book feeling bitchy and bitter and much put upon. The barbarian having limits to his tolerance for rotten behavior, she gets threatened with numerous punishments and suffers a fair few. Generally, however, this happens only after she does something genuinely obnoxious to the other folks in the barbarian’s entourage. One can hardly blame her for lashing out — she is, after all, present against her will — and yet for the most part her victims are pretty sympathetic characters who, within the constraints of their women-subservient worldview, are pretty nice folks who care a lot more about her than she cares about them. For that matter, they also care a lot more about her than anyone else in her life ever has.
And that’s the interesting part. The book demonstrates a much more interesting dominant male ethos than, for example, that seen in the Gor books. These barbarian guys expect pretty damn good subservient service from their women, but they love them, cherish them, and protect the hell out of them at the same time. Better yet, they are so secure in their macho worldview that they don’t have the least bit of trouble being tender and open…on their own terms of course. They disdain slave holders as unmanly and find female slaves uninteresting. One can imagine real women finding these guys attractive, and willingly hanging out with them. (As opposed to those Gorean bastards. How did they ever get any sleep? You make one mistake, just one, with the binding fiber, and with all those weapons around it’s testicles on the floor, baby. That’s gotta happen eventually, it’s just a matter of waiting for it.)
In the end, this book reads like a tragedy, because the heroine is so messed up emotionally that she can’t consistently be decent to the folks who care about her. But it’s recommended reading for anyone who is looking for a model of dominance and submission that’s got some warmth to it.
I’ll close with a scene in which Terrillian’s bottom also receives some richly-earned warmth:
“I ranted even as I shivered in the warm air, trying to tell him how wrong he was, but one look at the switch took all the words away….He found me even as I tried to scramble past him, began beating me even as I begged him not to. I didn’t want to be punished, it wasn’t fair that he punished me when nobody punished him, but that didn’t stop the beating. He switched me until I cried, until I projected my pain and fear, until I tried frantically to make him believe I was sorry. At that point I was sorry, desperately sorry, and he finally seemed to be satisfied.”