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Fantasy Runs Amok

Eldest by Christopher Paolini
The writings of Eragon are the lamentations of readers…

NOTE: I listened to this on audiobook, so espect to find the names and places probably hideously misspelled. I would make an effort to correct the spelling if I cared.

Eragon and the Vardan have defeated Galbatorix’s forces at Farthen Dur. But Eragon’s journey has only begun. He must now travel to Ellesmera to learn the ways of the dragon riders from the Elves. Meanwhile, his cousin, Roran, must defend his home of Carvahall from the Raz’ac.

But you might recognize it better as:

Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance have defeated the Empire’s Death Star. But Luke’s journey has only begun. He must now travel to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi from the last remaining Jedi Master, a crazy old alien, Yoda. Meanwhile, Leia must defend the Millennium Falcon from Darth Vader and retrieve Han, her true love, from his clutches.

I strove hard and long to find something admirable, enjoyable about this book. After much head-scratching I have one thing: Oromis teaching Eragon magic. Don’t ask me why those parts interested me, but they did (few and far between though they be). Oh, no, wait, I have another favorite part: Vanna (White?) the Elf smack Eragon around. God, that almost makes the book worth reading. Well, not really…

Other than these two very teeny, tiny blips on the Eldest radar, I found the “story” painful to listen to, hour after agonizing hour. I must be an ascetic, for mustering through almost 24 hours of this mess. Actually, I probably listened to less, as I tended to wander off mentally only to return and find that absolutely nothing had happened! It’s sad, when you’re reading a novel only to learn that half of what you are reading isn’t even important to the story. It’s either a big, red warning sign that the author is writing piles and piles of fluff or that the editor fell asleep while editing the draft. In Eldest’s case, I believe it was both.
As we saw in Eragon, the characters in Eldest are terrible, starting with Eragon, our loosely-defined “hero” and a pitifully concealed variant of Aragorn/Luke Skywalker. (NOTE: Be prepared for copious comparison to LOTR and Star Wars, as Paolini loved both so much, he decided to write a fanfic about them hooking up and having babies. Eragon and Eldest are those “babies.) Unlike either Aragorn or Luke, he is the most boring, bland, uninteresting, emotionless, stupid, insipid (yes, I can use big words too!) protagonists I’ve ever read. Eragon never feels anything, he just cries out in anger or pain. The audience never feels any of his anger or pain, we are just told he has it. We suffer through his never-ending descriptions of descriptions of descriptions of everything around him, told with wide-eyed awe that made me wonder if this guy had been locked in a box as a child. We grimace as he stumbles over wooing Arya. We wince as things that are obvious, such as whether the Twins are traitors (they are, it’s not a secret, you could tell in Eragon), are completely beyond him. We are belabored with reading him study such anachronistic subjects like electricity, magnetism, modern physics (Gravity!), and microbiology (milk spoils because of tiny organisms). I suppose if this novel had been established as a steampunk novel like The Golden Compass, this could have worked, but as it stands, this only shows how “enlightened” the Elves and Eragon are, to be studying these odd subjects (Medieval Elves know about microorganisms that spoil milk? People don’t think electricity and magnetism are magic?). My head spent most of these sessions impacting a desk. I have the bruises as proof. And when Eragon becomes an Elf in the most contrived manner…I am still recovering from that one.
Then we have Arwen—I mean, Arya. We learn here that she is—GASP!—a princess. Really, did no one see that coming? About the only other plot twist they could throw at us is if she is Eragon’s sister. She is the most distant, cold, uninviting character (not Elf, not female, not protagonist, character) I’ve ever encountered. How are we supposed to want Eragon to fall in love with her when I’ve seen granite with more personality?! How are we supposed to think she is so much better than dwarves when she is the one to start a fight with a dwarf about religion (she barges into their temple and begins to tell them how stupid they are to believe in gods with no provocation)? Why are we supposed to feel anything when she reunites with her mother, Queen Iszlanzardi? And what the heck was the beef between them anyway? Why bother to bring it up if there isn’t even going to be a fight or a growth or a purpose to the difference of opinion?
Then we have the poor forsaken Gimli-clone that accompanies Eragon. He is almost completely forgotten in the book, so much so that the author at one point finally remembers him and has Eragon comment on it. Why is he even in this book? What does he contribute to the story? Oh, right, can’t knock a story when there really isn’t one.
Then we have all the characters that are basically carbon-copies of Star Wars and LOTR. Eragon is Luke with Aragorn’s name, Arya is Arwen/Leia, Murtagh is Han, Galbatorix is the Emperor/Darth Vader, Morzan is Darth Vader, Brom is Obi-Wan, Nasuada is Eowyn, Ajihad is Theoden, the Twins are Wormtongue, Orik is Chewbacca, Oromis is Yoda, Roran is Leia, Katrina is Han Solo…about the only character that could possibly be considered his own is Angela, but even she is supposedly based off his sister. That doesn’t even include the Dwarves, Elves and Orcs (called Urgals) from Lord of the Rings. In the hands of a good author, this could be done decently, so that the characters pay homage to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings without being half-@ssed rip offs, but Paolini is far from a good author.
Worse than the characters, which I could at least stand in Eragon (I’ll admit, Brom was my favorite and it was shame when he died), the story is hideously, mind-numbingly boring. Absolutely nothing happens throughout the book! It’s all a long, boring retelling of journeys: one of Eragon’s and another of Roran’s.
Eragon is sent to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi under the tutelage of Yoda, the Last Jedi.
Oops, I meant Eragon is sent to Ellesmera to learn the ways of the Dragon Riders under the tutelage of Oromis, the actual last Dragon Rider. It’s so easy to make that mistake, since not only did Paolini steal SW characters, but also stole the entire plot of The Empire Strikes Back.
Now, I realize that Eragon’s plot was pretty much identical to A New Hope. But I could at least ignore the similarities by yelling profanities at the offending sections or getting lost in the fast pace of the novel. Eldest doesn’t even bother to disguise the plot, preferring to spend pages upon pages on nothing. It lingers too long in Farthen Dur, too long on the journey to Ellesmera, so that Eragon doesn’t even reach it until around Chapter 27 (which might not sound like much since the book is a freakin’ 77 chapter doorstopper, but when you are listening to it hour after agonising hour, it is forever). So what happens in those 27 chapters? Well, if you guessed fighting battles, intense chase scenes, or standoffs with the bad guys, go to the corner and sit there and think about what you just did!! No, Paolini fills his “epic” fantasy with each agonizing step of the journey. I wouldn’t be surprised if Paolini detailed each day of the journey. Every stop is given in excruciating detail. Every race Eragon meets gives him long, boring lectures about their culture, their language, their religion, their clothes…anything and everything to pad this story out. Every trip down a river, every haul up a hill is recounted, every time they sent up camp…be prepared for a nap, folks!
Even when we finally get to Ellesmera, the story doesn’t pick up. Instead, we trudge through Eragon’s thoughts about ants (THRILLS!), Oromis’ mind-boggling lessons on morality and ethics (CHILLS!), and Paolini’s barely concealed opinions on religion, veganism, and marriage (may I climb out the window SILLS?). No wonder my favorite part was where Vanna whips Eragon. That’s the only scene where anything happens!
The second “story” is Roran’s story of what happened in Carvahall. Wasn’t that the guy who scooted off at the beginning of Eragon to try to make money to marry that chick? So…why is he here? Why was he ignored all through Eragon but now his story is important? Roran leads his people, Moses-like, out of Carvahall to the South to the safety of the Vardan. I have loads of insults for the stupidity of the townfolk, leaving their village at the whim of one man, to the clichéd motivational speech Roran gives, to yet another damsel-in-distress (women in these novels are just terrible, they can’t keep themselves from being kidnapped for the life of them), to another horrible, awkward romance, to the complete misunderstanding of how the world works, but I really don’t care enough about this part to dredge them up. Insert your own witticisms here.
By the way, has anyone noticed that there is little explanation to why the Empire is bad? Okay, so we have the Raz’ac killing the folks of Carvahall, but that is only because of Eragon/Roran, and only because the dragon egg was stolen from Galbatorix. Last time I checked, thieves were punishable by law. If someone had stolen something from Eragon, he darn well would have gotten a horse and rode off to beat that thief’s @ss…why wouldn’t the government do something similar? If given the mind, one could reason that the Vardan are the enemies, for stealing, for being terrorists, and for being traitors to the government (and with how corrupt the Council are, an odd bit of realism in this stereotypical fantasy, it’s not a hard thought to wrap your head around). If you are going to make bad guys, you show them being bad guys. You show Galbatorix and Morzan killing people, oppressing people, stealing for no reason, burning down rows of pretty blue flowers, etc., not just tell the audience they are bad and expect us to root for Eragon and the Vardan.
Now we get to the fun part: the writing style. Oh, God Almighty, the writing style. Paolini is very aware he’s trying to write an epic, because it sounds just like an epic should. Well, a quick glance shows it sounding like an epic should. If you read with any modicum of attention, you’ll see that it reads like the worst LOTR fanfiction on the internet. Too much time is spent on needless descriptions (Oh, yes, let’s describe each of the Dwarves gods and goddesses!), padded wording, and clichéd phrases. Some of the worst passages I’ve found include:
“Slippers flashing beneath her dress, like mice darting from a hole.” WORST. DESCRIPTION. EVER. Mice now dart out of a hole, back into the hole, and out of the hole, all in quick rapid succession? Was this really the best way to describe…what is Paolini describing???
“Eragon surreptitiously watched the Elf, curious to what he looked like without his clothes.” Uh, and why is Eragon hitting on Arya and pouting when he fails disastrously?
“Eragon savored the epics as he might a well-cooked meal.” Who said you couldn’t eat what you read?
“Anxiety ran through his voice like a taut bow string.” Run, Anxiety, run! Get away from the bad simile!
“gyrating walls of ebony water” No, I would say “purple”, as in “purple prose”.
And then, of course, as I’ve briefly touched on earlier, Paolini breaks some of the author’s Golden Rules. “Show, don’t tell”. “Good prose should be invisible”. “Don’t lose the pacing by trying to describe your setting”. “The word ‘said’ is your best friend in dialogue.” And so on.
And now, I get into the audiobook. Most of the time, I don’t bother to comment, as the narrators do a good job at narrating. But I absolutely hated one thing about this narrator: his voices. They weren’t bad, even if the women were nearly impossible to tell apart from the men, but the absolute low point was the dragons. For the dragons, the narrator growled in a low, deep, raspy voice. This wasn’t bad for a short sentence here and there, but for long, long, long passages (which Paolini writes a lot of), it was so bad, I was very close to skipping over the section, just to stop listening to the horrible voice.
If you are interested in reading a cross-over fan fiction of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, I recommend you go to fan-fiction.net. If you want to read horrible characters, unending descriptions, bad romance, and a thin as plastic wrap plot stretched over 71 chapters that reads like Star Wars with characters and settings from Lord of the Rings, read Eldest. If you didn’t like Eragon, Eldest will only make you madder.
(Review submitted by a Shelf of Shame blogger!)

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Pirate, by Fabio

So here it is. The worst book ever written.

It was truly just awful.

You know you’re in for a treat when the cover says…

The “Sexiest Man in the World”
Invites You to Join Him in His Romantic Fantasy

I guess it could be said this book is Fabio’s fantasy. A perfect woman spends half the time begging him for sex. Yep, man fantasy right there.

You have no idea how excited I was to finally get this book. Why? Because back in 1993 there was an excerpt of it in a women’s magazine, and I’m pretty sure that was my introduction to the romance genre. As all excerpts do, this one teased me with all the build-up and then left me hanging right before Fabio (er, Marco) was about to deflower innocent – TEENAGED – Christina.
So it’s been seventeen years – almost the heroine’s entire lifespan – but I’ve finally got the payoff.

Once you get past the wonderful cover, you get this:

Which folds out into this:

The word ‘cutlass’ appears about four times every page. I counted for a while because it was driving me crazy. I suppose it’s so we don’t forget that this isn’t Fabio we’re reading about. No, that man on the cover (and, presumably, the naked guy in the water on that poster) is actually Marco The Pirate. Don’t you forget it.
‘Manhood’ is used about as often – both the word and the act the manhood participates in. When it’s not a manhood, it’s a manroot. Or a mast. Or a sword. Or a turgid organ. While on the other hand we have the ‘sails’ of the heroine’s womanhood. Kudos to the author for keeping the nautical theme going.

Fabio/the actual author who is not Fabio is so fond of adjectives I wanted to cry. Or scream. Or do both.

The horrible mêlée seemed almost obscenely incongruous on such a mild September night, when the sea gleamed with tranquil splendour.

Well hell. Fabio’s English language skills are better than mine. That’s quite a sentence there, Bello Mio.

All of a sudden, Marco felt as if a rock had lodged in his throat – and a boulder in his trousers.

Marco the Italian pirate with the flowing blonde hair and the “hard thigh muscles” is doing whatever Italian pirates do when the evil, evil Spaniards start raping and pillaging in an English settlement in South Carolina. After gallantly rescuing a woman who’s being raped by one of those evil, evil Spaniards, Marco sees Christina. He’s twenty-two, she’s twelve. They stand there admiring each other’s beauty. Then he abducts her. And her nurse, so, you know, her abduction won’t be a lonely one. Then he turns the already dreadful child into a selfish, spoilt brat.

You will be happy to know that Marco – the eighteenth century pirate – not only preaches equality, but also practices safe sex (or ‘safe sporting’ as it would be called in this book). Fabio/Fabio’s ghost writer make sure we know Marco keeps condoms in his room – as I’m sure all pirates did on desert islands in the eighteenth century. “Hold up wench while I grab me a condom from the corner store. Arrr!”
To add to the questionable level of historical accuracy, we have Spanish and English wenches declaring things such as:

“…he cast me and the others from the island like so much trash.”
“Hey, take it easy!”

However I suppose Marco’s a good pirate. Everything he does is legal – ordered by the King of England. He’s doing his bit for the war effort. Heaven forbid Fabio was anything other than perfect.

Marco and his men always behaved fairly and humanely toward their captives. Whenever possible, Marco preferred accomplishing his goals without violence. (Where’s the fun in that?!)

Christina is a Mary Sue, naturally. Even at twelve years of age, every single man on the ship wants to marry her. Then Fabio takes her back to his home and his pet cheetah – who never before has liked ‘another female’ – loves Christina. Of course.
The first sixty pages are devoted to showing Marco and Christina – uh – falling in love. The problem is, she’s still twelve. I’m not sure it was necessary for the heroine of the book to stay a child for so long in the story. But while Marco is obsessed with this spoilt, ‘feisty’ child, we do get to read in a bit of detail about the sex he’s having with his wench/mistress/fellow sportsperson.

Fast forward six years.

…they both knew precisely what he wanted to give her. It wouldn’t be a spanking – but it would be very hard and so good.

Feisty Christina has the entire crew wanting to marry her (the paedophiles are into young women these days it seems), and she’s being the feisty thing we all know her to be and playing the men off each other. So Marbio needs to set her straight. With a kissing lesson. He dismisses their pet cheetah, Pansy (yes, Pansy), so they can go for it. Said lesson comes with a whole lot of…sexy…pre-kiss banter. Such as:

“My friend Isabel is seventeen, and already she has a mate and twin babies. Why, only yesterday I watched Paolo and Luisa suckle at their mother’s breasts.” She stared at him, a dreamy look coming over her. “I think I would like a baby, too.”

She was brazen!

“Because if you marry me,” she went on recklessly, “I want many babies.”

Oh, the little tease! Marco could not believe she was enticing him so relentlessly – any more than he could believe his manhood’s turgid rise towards the ripe bait she dangled.

Christina is so feisty (and desperate for ‘many babies’) in fact, that she does very mature and kind things to get rid of Marbio’s mistresses – like put a snake in the bed, pour a bucket of water on them, light a fire, let Pansy into the room.

…tightly pinned against his hungry, thrusting loins, (It’s the ‘hungry’ that frightens me. What does that thing do? Eat?)

Both Christina and Marbio become so frustrated they ask the cheetah for relationship advice.

He felt the nipple of her breast spring to life… (What, as opposed to ‘the nipple of her hand’?!)

Marbio decides he needs to marry Christina off, while the baddies are congregating to kidnap Christina and get some money.
On a side note, I couldn’t understand why everybody was snapping their fingers all the time. Obviously it’s a habit Fabio/ghost writer has, but that doesn’t mean everybody in the world does it.

Hijinks ensue – of the kind that make you want to murder both of them and move onto the next book.

But they make it to bed eventually, with riveting conversation such as:

“I don’t think I mind -”
“Mind what?”
“That you are huge. In fact, I think I shall get used to it.”

Yeah, there’s some more of Fabio’s fantasy for you.

But it’s still not enough for Marbio to marry her, and when the brilliant, genius of a heroine is abducted, instead of fighting the bad guy off she decides to allow herself to be abducted so that Marbio can feel good rescuing her.

“The night is young,” Carlos replied. “I prefer to fill my gut before I plug a squirming wench’s belly with my manroot.”

It turned out Marbio was kind of a dickhead. Christina is captured and kept prisoner and abused for weeks, and when he finally turns up he acts all pissy because she isn’t grateful enough about – oh all kinds of things. He decides that she needs to love him more, and come begging to him (which is precisely what she’s been doing for the entire book!) and until then he’ll ‘bed’ her but not love her. Yep, this pirate’s a stellar hero who will make you swoon.

Christina has a few dozen more TSTL moments; Marbio experiments with a bit of light bondage (it involved bound hands and a hammock. “Now swing, cara.” “Swing? Which way?” “Every way.”); all the women end up pregnant to the wrong men; and then the story’s over.

The epilogue very kindly shows us a confused Marbio ‘cutely’ not knowing how to deal with his baby daughter. But he’ll have to figure it out fast because Christina is already pregnant with the next one. At the rate they’re going they’ll probably be able to fit in – oh – about twenty-six kiddies before menopause. How romantic.

The only positive I have to say about this book is that I’ve finally fulfilled a lifelong dream by reading it. I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

So, this wasn’t exactly a review. But you get the picture.

*This review (or not exactly a review, depending on your point of view) is courtesy of Zosia and was reprinted here with permission.  Thanks Zosia!!

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Nauti Boy

I know I shouldn’t review Lora Leigh books. It’s just that when I heard the heroes of this series were a bunch of redneck relatives who participated in family spankathons…well…the book just had to be read. In Wild Card Lora Leigh taught me the only way two married souls can truly be connected is to have buttsecks. In Nauti Boy, she taught me the way to cure the trauma of sexual assault is to lose your virginity to your stepbrother and his two buttsecks-obsessed cousins in a gangbang with a stalker looking on. Of course, these heroic men will come with perfectly normal names. Such as Rowdy, Dawg and Natches.

Oh yeah baby.

Lora Leigh has a terrible effect on me. When I read her books I turn into that fifth grader who thought it was hilarious to see drawings of ‘boy bits’ on the bathroom walls. It’s embarrassing, the way her writing makes me do these things. I’m no prude, really I’m not. But when I read Lora Leigh, I’m ten.

Rowdy wants Kelly, but she’s a little young.
So what’s a man to do when he wants to sexify his underage stepsister?
Rowdy chooses to be patient, and goes off to be a superhero in the Marines until he won’t be arrested for doing the girl in the forbidden regions. They could have moved overseas – the age of consent in Australia is sixteen, and if they wanted to stay closer to home, they could have tried Canada.

Rowdy has a reputation for naughty sexcapades with his cousins. I can’t get past their names. ‘Natches’ makes me itchy, and I’m sorry, but ‘Dawg’ is something with four legs and a tail. Is Lora Leigh joking, or does she really think men with names like that will turn us on?

Dawg, Natches and Rowdy Mackay. They were the bad boys of the county. The three of them had been the terror of Somerset Kentucky when they were young. Fathers locked their daughters up at night in fear of the three of them. They hadn’t exactly gained a good reputation where their women were concerned.

It’s quite a community these characters live in. I thought it was a bit strange that the first conversation we see Rowdy have with his father is about all the girls he’s spanked with his cousins in the past.

“Rowdy, I know you don’t understand—”
“Sure I do, Dad.” He turned back to his father then, a tight, cold smile on his lips. “I spanked Calista a little bit, screwed her ass and did it in front of witnesses.” He watched as Ray Mackay’s face nearly turned purple. “And to add to that distasteful little venture, me, Natches and Dawg shared her for a while. I understand completely.” He was aware of Maria standing outside the door; he prayed Kelly was out of earshot.

But I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when we got our first visit into Rowdy’s father’s head to learn the father’s first sexual experience with his wife was when her first husband shared her in a threesome. How utterly romantic.

Not since he started dating Maria, and realised what love really was. He had known her forever. She and her husband had been regulars at the marina, their boat docked close to the office. Hell, during their younger days, when pleasure had been all that mattered, he and James, Maria’s husband, had shared Maria at one time.

Rowdy finally returns to ‘claim’ Kelly when he’s thirty and she’s twenty-four (and there’s some bizarre talk about how Kelly’s too young; last I checked, twenty-four year olds were out of school and quite legal).
But when he returns he discovers Kelly has been attacked by a stalker, and is all jumpy. The stalker tied her to the bed, cut her, and tried to rape her up the bum.
In Lora Leigh’s land, everybody loves buttsecks so much it’s even the rapists’ preferred technique.
Well darn, he thinks. He’d been planning on sharing her with his cousins on his boat, the ‘Nauti Buoy’. But no matter, after less than twenty-four hours at home he’s sharing her bed, and coming out with such reassuring things as:

“Easy, baby.” His voice was drowsy, calm. “It’s just a hard-on.”

What’s the best way to ‘cure’ a woman of her near-rape trauma?
That’s it Rowdy. You’re home for a couple of days, so it’s time to bring in a couple of cousins and you can sex her up real good. She’ll love the backdoor action once a few friends have done their thing with her. Especially as she’s a virgin. How sensitive and considerate of you.
In short, the stalker is caught, and they live happily ever after. Kelly becomes a sex-crazed ‘kitten’ (I’ve noticed Lora Leigh is always telling us the women are like ‘kittens’), and a bunch of people who have nothing to do with the story but who participate in a lot of group sex turn up in the epilogue for no apparent reason.

She was a little sex kitten waiting to purr, and they were ready to stroke her.

The end.

Now I’m a little confused. The ‘Nauti’ is just juvenile spelling – like that book I read recently where one of the characters was called ‘Summa’. It’s the ‘Buoy’ I don’t get. You see, I was under the impression Americans pronounced the word as ‘boo-ee’. To me, the play on words makes perfect sense because we pronounce ‘boy’ and ‘buoy’ the same way. But how does an American author make that play on words when she doesn’t pronounce them the same?
However, that’s probably a pretty stupid question, considering I’m talking about a book with a hero named Rowdy and a bunch of people who think rape trauma is cured by an incestuous foursome.

As with every other piece of Lora Leigh writing I’ve ever read, the characters are constantly flying off the handle for no apparent reason. One minute they’re having a normal conversation; the next they’re screaming at each other. I guess Leigh’s trying to show passion and emotion or something, but nothing happens to justify the outbursts.

The book finishes with an epilogue that advertises another one of the author’s series. One moment we’re with the characters we know, and the next six new people – the heroes and heroines of the other series – are there, doing some promotion while pretending to matter to the story. Then – in a double-promotion whammy – we cut to epilogue number two and Dawg promoting his book, standing there naked while he orders the woman he ‘loves’ to do the business on him.
Lora Leigh’s nothing is not shameless in trying to force us to buy more books.

*This review is courtesy of Zosia and has been reprinted here with permission.  Thanks Zosia!

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Champion, by Fabio

In this edition of Fabio’s personal ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series, he’s a Venetian knight. He’s also been a ‘Pirate’, a ‘Viking’, and…’Dangerous’. As Niccolo the Knight, he goes to a magical kingdom to rescue the feisty Princess Aurora and claim his rewards of marrying her and getting her babies and her fortune.

Yeah, doesn’t sound so romantic to me either.

In what is beginning to appear to me as a pattern for these books, this one also has a scene where Fabio worries his penis is just too big for the poor heroine. This, of course, gives the heroine the opportunity to congratulate and compliment him on the turgid organ behind the codpiece in his leather trousers.

“I am hurting you,” he said contritely…
…”Your barb is sweet, milord. And wondrous large.”

Right from the outset I had a problem. This is the real Princess Aurora:

She stars in The Sleeping Beauty and dances the Rose Adage.

She DOESN’T frolic in the forest while complimenting Fabio on his ginormous barb. I don’t like having my fairytales ruined.

I never in a million years would have expected to read this book and get a fairytale of the magic and unicorn variety. And who would have thought a man’s mediaeval knight fantasy would be so boring? So filled with magic? Would actually have a princess who frolicked with a pet fawn and picnicked with gnomes?

Aurora smiled at the little man, with his wrinkled, pointy face, beady dark eyes, balding pate, and full beard. “Good morrow, Francis.” She nodded in turn to each of the others. “And Farley, Findley, Finn, Fiske, and Frey.”

Where’s the fighting and the sex?! I certainly wasn’t in it for the Snow White factor.

This one took me forever to read. It seems Fabio and his ghostwriter Eugenia Riley forgot Fabio’s actually not a serious model or writer. These books don’t work when you’re trying to take them seriously. Until the feisty wench of the mystical land of Falconia appeared on the page a few chapters in, the whole thing was a little too, well, normal and boring for my expectations.

But then they arrived in Falconia (which for some reason had me thinking about She-Ra, but I think she lives in ‘Eternia’), and the castle is under siege; they can hear the battering ram knocking the gates down. But for some reason everyone’s ignoring the attack, instead participating in a festival to worship turtles.

“Why, ‘tis a holy celebration, milord – the Sacred Day of the Turtle.”

Don’t worry, it’s not only this town that’s crazy. Their neighbours celebrate ‘The Holy Day of the Cricket’.

That’s what tipped me off to the fact I’d stumbled into The Hobbit rather than Braveheart.

Niccolo clucked to Nero and manoeuvred the charger through the trees. “This is an enchanted place indeed. Blessedly, the gnomes appear to be heading away from us, toward the mountains. They will not molest us.”

Once they’ve encountered turtles and gnomes and peasants wearing their clothes inside-out (I’m still not sure why that happened), they arrive at the princess’ home – the invaders have gone home for the evening, having a break from sacking the castle (seriously, they went home for the day) – to discover there’re actually half a dozen men who’ve come to the castle to rescue the princess and get her babies. He’s going to have to compete for her!

So this was his bride…He did feel relieved to discover that Aurora was neither ugly nor repulsive,

But boy is she feisty.

Princess or not, she was one fresh wench. She deserved to have her saucy mouth scrubbed with lye soap – and her backside thrashed!

But poor Faccolo doesn’t know yet that Princess Aurora has an ulterior motive. She’s cursed! And she wants a sexy man with a big dong her ‘one true love’ to free her of it. She takes the time to notice he is “a giant of a man” with “well-shaped knees”.

In amongst all of the brazens, verilys and half a dozen mayhaps a page, there’s a plot that adds nothing to the story. When it comes down to it, nobody picks up this book for the world-building or the historical experience.
Faccolo spends the entire book wanting to hurt Princess Aurora badly, because like all good old-style romance heroes, he’s been wronged by a woman in the past, and so KNOWS this woman is evil too. For her part, the princess knows she’ll die within a year if she marries the wrong man (it’s that bloody family curse that kills off the women), but she really, really wants to sexify Fabio (don’t we all?) so she decides to marry him anyway.

Beware the barbs… She froze in alarm. Was it the voice of the spirits? Or merely the wind?
When the ominous voice repeated, Beware the barbs, Aurora’s doubts surged into panic. Verily, she could feel Niccolo’s barb against her now – part of her ached to be pierced by it, yet it might well bring her to ruin!

I repeat:

Mayhap he could punish her that way…punish her by making love to her until she could not move,

…the cheeks so flushed with desire, the lips lush and bright, slightly parted…as another part of her would soon become, to receive his deeply thrusting organ.

Too late, our hero realises he’s been a bastard, and he has to go and rescue the heroine from the evil King Basil across the way.

Fabio takes all the men and supernatural creatures with him. Just in time, he gets over his misogynistic grudge and rediscovers God.

Niccolo nodded. “Then let us go fight, men…and gnomes.” He paused thoughtfully. “But first, let us all pray.”

Everything is resolved, and the princess spawns her heir, thus outliving the nasty curse. The epilogue features breastfeeding from start to finish, while the happy King Niccolo and Queen Aurora discuss their next baby and Fabio repays the favour of the manroot compliment by congratulating Aurora on her breastfeeding technique. What a perfect way to finish a fantastic story.

*Review courtesy of Zosia and reprinted here with permission!  Thanks Zosia!

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