Today I am so pleased to welcome Kate Sherwood to Joyfully Jay. Kate has come to talk to us about her latest release, Sacrati. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Kate a big welcome!
Real slavery is horrific, cruel, and dehumanizing. I felt a little irresponsible for writing a sort of ‘slavery light’ in Sacrati. I mean, Finnvid, one of my main characters, doesn’t enjoy being a slave, but the system of slavery in the Torian culture is primarily a temporary state, just a holding period while the slaves prove themselves worthy of Torian citizenship. The slaves are expected to work hard, but not any harder than the Torians do themselves. They’re not given much respect, but neither are the Torian recruits, not until they’ve proven themselves.
So maybe I’m diminishing the horrors of real slavery by writing about this more moderate version? I worried about this for a while, but then I thought of all the different versions of slavery that have existed in human history. Roman slaves were often highly trained and were sometimes able to buy their freedom. Serfs in the feudal system weren’t called slaves, but had very limited freedom. Indentured servitude was common for people wanting to immigrate to North America but not having the money. Prisoners are often expected to work while imprisoned, and prisoners of war may be expected to as well.
These are all limitations on personal freedom. I wouldn’t want to experience any of them. But I don’t want to experience a lot of the things I write about; not wanting to experience something doesn’t mean I’m being disrespectful by exploring an aspect of it.
So, Finnvid is a prisoner of war, but is treated as a slave. He hates it, understandably. But I didn’t feel like I was being irresponsible for having Finnvid be a slave who falls in love with his ‘owner’. Especially since Theos, his so-called master, is such a push-over!
Not that he doesn’t try to be in charge. But he’s smitten with Finnvid from fairly early on, and that makes it difficult to be too firm. After a moment of bonding, Theos scolds himself:
Theos tried to control his racing heart. Why was he so excited? Because his slave had touched him kindly? Had he lost all sense? Just because he’d chosen not to force himself on the boy didn’t mean they weren’t still master and property!
Would Theos have been this excited if a dog he owned had shown him some affection?
Well, that thought calmed him down a little, because he was pretty sure he would be excited about a dog, if the dog had been wild, or an enemy war dog. Theos was taming Finnvid. That was why he was excited. He wouldn’t push, but if he kept being slow and steady and kind, maybe eventually Finnvid would be tame all the time. Maybe he’d share his secrets, and Theos would finally figure out what was going on. And maybe Finnvid would get over his stupid Elkati ideas about sex and realize that there was nothing unnatural about two people giving each other pleasure.
And maybe then he’d flap his wings and start to fly. But it was festival day, a good day for crazy dreams, so Theos let himself believe this one, just a little.
So, yes, in the real world, slavery is horrific. In Sacrati? A slave who thinks he’s the boss, and an owner who seems inclined to agree? I think I’m okay with it, for a story.
As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.
Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.
For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.
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