Friday, July 27, 2012

'Slaves of the Empire' by Aaron Travis


As a bookseller (lover) that works for one of the few remaining independent bookstores in the country, I am in a constant love/hate relationship with eBooks.  I completely understand that is the direction to where my industry is headed, but damned if we aren’t convulsing on Tourette’s trying to strike a working balance between the two.  This however, is a good eBook story.  If you know me then you know that two of my favorite genres are ‘Rome’ and ‘erotica’.  And finding a book that combines the two… SCORE!

About five years ago I was doing an internet search on ‘gladiators’ and this book popped up.  I looked it up, read more, and thought it would be something that I would like to read.  I guess I didn’t see the part where it said “gay erotica”.  However, I only took that with a grain of salt because a number (actually A LOT) of the Rome books I read deal with homosexuality because… well… the Romans were absolutely and utterly lust-mongers had no problem with man on man sex.  That is clearly obvious in this book. 

If you have an issue (any issues AT ALL) with homosexuality or forced sexual domination then this is not your book.  I don’t mind reading about gay sex, but when I do it’s usually along with every other type of sex, as long as it flows with the story.  ‘Slaves of the Empire’ is a story FULL of sex, brutality, evil, bondage, fighting, blood, and death.  In other words, a book perfect for me.  Unfortunately, if all a book has is the violence and sex with no substance then you’re left with no substance feeling like you just read a (fake) letter from Penthouse and not a real story.  Aaron Travis gives us a real story and it’s a damned good one. 

Magnus is the best gladiator in Rome and has been for a while.  Urius is the upcoming star and almost the exact opposite of Magnus.  From the opening of this story you know these two were headed toward a collision path; but not one that you’re likely to imagine.  They each have healthy appetites for blood and young flesh, and eagerly indulge in both.  Gladiators have always been an interesting sort with having to train and perform for a crowd on a daily basis.  So why not take your pleasure in public too?  They do.  And often.  It’s not always nice and not always consensual.  Trust me here folks, there’s enough sex in this short story to make Aphrodite blush.

And enough brutality in here to make Ares cringe.  So now I have yet another author to add to my always growing list.  But the “good” news is that it looks like Aaron’s books are relatively short which will make for quick reading.  His bio says that he stopped writing in the 1990’s to move on to another career.  Too bad for us.  Good job Aaron and I sincerely look forward to reading more of your work.

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