bellatrys (bellatrys) wrote,

Return to the Planet of the Complete Bloody Psychopaths - Sucker's Bet.

Okay, we know that they are liars, proven so already by the handful of excerpted pages out of the nigh 250 of Tarnsman of Gor that I have already shown you in the prior reviews. But Outlaw of Gor, the second one, is actually far worse.

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to pull out a few excerpts to show just how much more dehumanizing and degrading of human personhood. Not too many, because you already know how bathetic the dialogue and how bad the prose, so I don't need to bother there.

So - I strongly suspect that the teasing-over-his-name that Young!Tarl got in school was not for his first name (I mean, seriously, he's supposed to come from an island where kids get named things like Callum and Rhys) but his last name, and that it was usually on account of its overall similarity to "Cabbage" - Tarl-Stu terrorizes the Tatrix into Submitting to him by threatening to feed her to the tarn, and to going along with his demands by threatening to sell her into slavery, with way too much relish for a man who supposedly disapproves of all this, and then takes her back to the place where the Tharnans regularly exchange prisoners (despite them sucking up all their visitors into the black hole of the Great Farms from which none ever escape to warn their brethern Don't Visit Tharna, It's A Tourist TRAP!!!.

Where, of course, he is betrayed and dragged away in irons again, because bargains made with "beasts" don't count. You'd think he'd have learned with Talena, but noooo.

So he's sentenced to work in the mines, where they have so many excess slaves that if any one of them rebels, at all, or if they fall behind even a little, the whole chain gang is routinely drowned par encourages les autres and replaced with others. And they have no sense that this is against nature, either, until Tarl and Andreas the Manly!Poet teach them that they are Men and not Beasts and deserve to be FREE, dammit, and little by little they believe him and grow spines.

He also learns, at this time, that the Tatrix Lara never came home, and the mysterious Tarnsman who carried her off from the Games is widely believed to have refused the proffered ransom and taken her back to screw or sell. (We already knew early on about plots and conspiracies to overthrow her, given that someone tried to give Tarl-Stu lots and lots of gold to abduct the Tatrix, and the big flashing arrow painted over her second-in-command Dorna the Proud was a dead giveaway.)

Eventually he's ready to lead them in a revolt to overthrow the mine overseers and escape. (I wonder just how many times Norman saw Spartacus in the theaters when it first came out.) After which Tarl scoops up a fancy sword and helmet and resumes on his quest to find the Priest-Kings and demand accounting for what they did with his city, which has apparently been evaporated and he proscribed, finding his loyal Black Stallion Tarn still hanging around the outskirts of town waiting for him, and they set off again (him still bareback and without a bridle) to the mountains.

There they're held off by the force-field which the Lower Castes call magical, which repells aerial assault, and so he releases the Tarn again and starts walking around the Gorean International Trade Fair which is held at the foot of the Priest-king's mountains, and he hears a woman screaming and Chivalrous Tarl-Stu goes dashing off to the rescue:

I walked between the tents and saw the girl.

She was a blond girl with golden hair that fell behind her to the small of her back. Her eyes were blue. She was of dazzling beauty. She trembled like a frantic animal. She knelt, her back against a slender, white birchlike tree to which she was chained naked. Her hands were joined over her head and behind the tree by slave bracelets. Her ankles were similarly fastened by a short slave chain which encircled the tree.

Her eyes had turned to me, begging, pleading, as though I might deliver her from her predicament, but when she looked upon me, those fear-glazed eyes, if possible, seemed even more terrified. She uttered a hopeless cry. She began to shake uncontrollably and her head fell forward in despair.

I gathered she had taken me for another slaver.

There was an iron brazier near the tree, which was filled with glowing coals. I could feel its heat ten yards away. From the brazier protruded the handles of three irons.

There was a man beside the irons, stripped to the waist, wearing thick leather gloves, one of the minions of the slaver. He was a grizzled man, rather heavy, sweating, blind in one eye. He regarded me without too much interest, as he waited for the irons to heat.

I noted the thigh of the girl.

It had not yet been branded.

When an individual captures a girl for his own uses, he does not always mark her, though it is commonly done. On the other hand, the professional slaver, as a business practice, almost always brands his chattels, and it is seldom that an unbranded girl ascends the block.

The brand is to be distinguished from the collar, though both are a designation of slavery. The primary significance of the collar is that it identifies the master and his city. The collar of a given girl may be changed countless times, but the brand continues throughout to bespeak her status. The brand is normally concealed by the briefly skirted slave livery of Gor but, of course, when the camisk is worn, it is always clearly visible, reminding the girl and others of her station.

The brand itself, in the case of girls, is a rather graceful mark, being the initial letter of the Gorean expression for slave in cursive script. If a male is branded, the same initial is used, but rendered in a block letter.

Noting my interest in the girl, the man beside the irons went to her side and, taking her by the hair, threw back her face for my inspection. "She's a beauty, isn't she?" he said.

I nodded agreement.

I wondered why those piteous eyes looked upon me with such fear.

"Perhaps you want to buy her?" asked the man.

"No," I said.

The heavy-set man winked his sightless eye in my direction. His voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper. "She's not trained," he said. "And she is as hard to manage as a sleen."

I smiled.

"But," said the man, "the iron will take that out of her."

I wondered if it would.

At the sight of the glowing metal the girl uncontrollably screamed, pulling at the slave bracelets, at the shackles that held her to the tree.

"She's a loud one," he said, shamefacedly. Then, with a shrug in my direction, as if to ask my pardon, he went to the girl and took a handful of her long hair. He wadded it into a small, tight ball and suddenly shoved it in her mouth. It immediately expanded, and before she could spit the hair out, he had looped more of her hair about her head and tied it, in such a way as to keep the expanded ball of hair in her mouth. The girl choked silently, trying to spit the ball of hair from her mouth, but of course she could not. It was an old slaver's trick. I knew tarnsmen sometimes silenced their captives in the same way.

"Sorry, Sweet Wench," said the grizzled man, giving the girl's head a friendly shake, "but we don't want Targo coming over here with his whip and beating the tharlarion oil out of us both, do we?"

Sobbing silently the girl's head fell down again on her breast.

The grizzled man absent-mindedly hummed a caravan tune while waiting for the irons to heat.

My emotions were mixed. I had rushed to the scene to free the girl, to protect her. Yet when I arrived I found that she was merely a slave, and that her owner, quite properly from Gor's point of view, was attending to the routine business of marking his property. Had I attempted to free her, it would have been as much an act of theft as if I had driven off the tharlarion wagon.",

Moreover, these men bore the girl no animosity. To them she was just another wench on their chain, perhaps more poorly trained and less docile than most. If anything they were merely impatient with her, and thought she made too much of a fuss about things. They would not comprehend her feelings, her humiliation, her shame, her terror.

I supposed even the other girls, the other freight of the caravan, might think she made a bit too much of things. After all, did a slave not expect the iron? And the whip?

I saw the other girls some thirty yards away, in camisks, the cheapest of slave garments, laughing and talking to one another, disporting themselves as pleasurably as free maidens might have. I almost did not notice the chain that lay hidden in the grass. It passed through the ankle ring of each and, at each end, encircled a tree to which it was padlocked.

The irons would soon be hot.

The girl before me, so helpless in her chains, would soon be marked.

I have wondered upon occasion why brands are used on Gorean slaves. Surely Goreans have at their disposal means for indelibly but painlessly marking the human body. My conjecture, confirmed to some extent by the speculations of the Older Tarl, who had taught me the craft of arms in Ko-ro-ba years ago, is that the brand is used primarily, oddly enough, because of its reputed psychological effect.

In theory, if not in practice, when the girl finds herself branded like an animal, finds her fair skin marked by the iron of a master, she cannot fail, somehow, in the deepest levels of her thought, to regard herself as something which is owned, as mere property, as something belonging to the brute who has put the burning iron to her thigh.

Most simply the brand is supposed to convince the girl that she is truly owned; it is supposed to make her feel owned. When the iron is pulled away and she knows the pain and degradation and smells the odor of her burned flesh, she is supposed to tell herself, understanding its full and terrible import, I AM HIS.

Actually I suppose the effect of the brand depends greatly on the girl. In many girls I would suppose the brand has little effect besides contributing to their shame, their misery and humiliation. With other girls it might well increase their intractability, their hostility. On the other hand, I have known of several cases in which a proud, insolent woman, even one of great intelligence, who resisted a master to the very touch of the iron, once branded became instantly a passionate and obedient Pleasure Slave.

But all in all I do not know if the brand is used primarily for its psychological effect or not. Perhaps it is merely a device for merchants who must have some such means for tracing runaway slaves, which would otherwise constitute a costly hazard to their trade. Sometimes I think the iron is simply an anachronistic survival from a more technologically backward age.

One thing was clear. The poor creature before me did not wish the iron.

I was sorry for her.

The minion of the slaver withdrew another iron from the fire. His one eye regarded it appraisingly. It was white hot. He was satisfied.

The girl shrank against the tree, her back against its white, rough bark. Her wrists and ankles pulled at the chains that fastened them behind the tree. Her breathing was spasmodic; she trembled. There was terror in her blue eyes. She whimpered. Any other sound she might have uttered was stifled by the gag of hair.

The slavers minion locked his left arm about her left thigh, holding it motionless. "Don't wiggle, Sweet Wench," he said, not without kindness. "You might spoil the brand." He spoke to the girl soothingly, as if to calm her. "You want a clean, pretty brand, don't you? It will improve your price and you'll get a better master."

I noted that some of the delicate golden hair on her thigh, from the very proximity of the iron, curled and blackened.

She closed her eyes and tensed herself for the sudden, inevitable, searing flash of pain.

The man looked up, puzzled.

The terror-filled eyes of the girl opened, regarded me questioningly.

"I'll buy her," I said.

"The minion of the slaver stood up and regarded me curiously. He turned to the domed tents. "Targo!" he called. Then he thrust the iron back into the brazier. The girl's body sagged in the chains. She had fainted.

One guess as who this is.

Even though he had several encounters with her in which they spoke for comparatively long exchanges (that is, as compared to the usual brief Gorean exchanges, but not long compared to the inner monologues of Gor), he doesn't recognize her voice when they speak after he buys her. She has to tell him who she is.

When the girl had been unchained I lifted her in my arms and carried her into one of the domed tents that had been indicated to me.

The floor of the tent was covered with thick, colorful rugs, and the inside was decorated with numerous silken hangings. The light was furnished by a brass tharlarion-oil lamp which swung on three chains. Cushions were scattered about on the rugs. On one side of the tent there stood, with its straps, a Pleasure Rack.

There we would wait until her collar had been engraved.

I set the girl gently down.

She looked at the rack.

"First," she said, "you will use me, will you not?"

"No," I said.

...She stood bravely before me, yet so helpless, so much at my mercy. She might have stood thus before a larl in the Voltai. It was important to her to die well. I admired her for this, and found her in her hopelessness and defiance very beautiful. Her lower lip trembled, ever so slightly. Almost imperceptibly she bit it to control its movement, lest I should see. I found her magnificent. There was a tiny drop of blood on her lips. I shook my head to drive away the thought that I wanted with my tongue to taste the blood on her lips, to kiss it from her mouth.

Ah, that pathetic, laughable courage of women again! But he's so chivalrous, our John-Tarl. Even if she did send him to slave in the mines, after promising to release his friends in exchange for her freedom.

She also tells him something else.

"What will you do with me?" she demanded.

"I will free you," I said.

She stepped back in disbelief. Her blue eyes seemed filled with wonder, and then they glistened with tears. Her shoulders shook with sobs.

I put my arms around her slender shoulders and to my amazement she who had worn the golden mask of Tharna, she who had been Tatrix of that gray city, put her head upon my chest and wept. "No," she said, "I am worthy only of being a slave."

"That is not true," I said. "Remember once you told a man not to beat me. Remember once you said it was hard to be first in Tharna. Remember that once you looked upon a field of talenders and I was too dull and foolish to speak to you."
"She stood boldly before me. "Do you not want me?"

"To see you is to want you," I admitted.

"Then take me," she challenged. "I am yours."

I looked down at the rug, wondering how to speak to her. [It's all right, Tarl-Stu! She's different! You can tell her the truth!]

"I don't understand," I said.

"Beasts are fools!" she exclaimed. [Aaaand here we go with the "You insulted me by not raping me! You think I'm UGLY!" again...]

After this incredible outburst she went to the side of the tent, and held one of the hangings with her fist, thrusting her face against it.

She turned, still clutching the hanging in her fist. Her eyes were filled with tears, but angry. "You returned me to Tharna," she said, almost as if making an accusation.

"For the love of my friends," I said.

"And honor!" she said.

"Perhaps honor too," I admitted.

"I hate your honor!" she cried.

"Some things," I said, "are more compelling than even the beauty of a woman."

"I hate you," she said.

"I'm sorry." [Look well, O wolves! for the first time EVER, Norman has managed to not stick an "I/he said" after a quote where the speaker is obvious!]

"Lara laughed, a small, sad laugh, and sat down on the rug at the side of the tent, tucking her knees under her chin. "I don't hate you, you know," she said.

"I know." [Again! but we will not see the likes of it again.]

"But I did— I did hate you. When I was Tatrix of Tharna I hated you. I hated you so."

I was silent. I knew she had spoken the truth. I had sensed those virulent feelings with which she had unaccountably, to my mind, regarded me.

"Do you know, Warrior," she asked, "why I— now only a miserable slave— hated you so?"

"No," I said.

"Because when I first saw you I knew you from a thousand forbidden dreams." Her eyes sought me out. She spoke softly. "In these dreams I had been proud in my palace surrounded by my council and warriors and then, shattering the roof like glass, a great tarn descended, bearing a helmeted warrior. He scattered my council and defeated my armies and took me and stripped me and bound me naked across the saddle of his bird and then, with a great cry, he carried me to his city, and there I, once proud Tatrix of Tharna, wore his brand and collar."

"Do not fear these dreams," I said.

And in his city," said the girl, her eyes bright, "he put bells upon my ankles and dressed me in dancing silk. I had no choice you understand. I must do as he wished. And when I could dance no more he took me in his arms and like a beast forced me to serve his pleasure."

"It was a cruel dream," I said.

She laughed, and her face burned with shame. "No," she said, "it was not a cruel dream."

"I don't understand," I said.

"In his arms I learned what Tharna could not teach. In his arms I learned to share the flaming splendor of his passion. In his arms I learned mountains and flowers and the cry of wild tarns and the touch of a larl's claw. For the first time in my life my senses were kindled— for the first time I could feel the movements of clothing on my body, for the first time I noticed how an eye opens and what, truly, is the feel of a hand's touch— and I knew then that I was no more nor less than he or any other living creature and I loved him!"

I said nothing.

"I would not," she said, "have given up his collar for all the gold and silver in Tharna, not for all the stones of her gray walls."

But you were not free in this dream," I said.

Was I free in Tharna?" she asked.

I stared down at the intricate pattern on the rug, not speaking.

"Of course," she said, "as one who wore the mask of Tharna I put this dream from me. I hated it. It terrified me. It suggested to me that I, even the Tatrix, might share the unworthy nature of the beast." She smiled. "When I saw you, Warrior, I thought that you might be the warrior of this dream. So it was I hated you and wanted to destroy you because you threatened me and all that I was, and at the same time I hated you I feared you, and I desired you."

I looked up, surprised.

"Yes," she said. "I desired you." Her head fell and her voice became almost inaudible. "Though I was Tatrix of Tharna," she said, "I wanted to lie at your feet on the scarlet rug, I wanted to be bound with yellow cords."

Yes, she had dreams about him. He's, literally, the Man Of Her Dreams™ - the dreams in which her subconscious revealed - and reveled in - her true female nature as subservient sex object.

"I recalled that she had said something of a rug and cords in the council chamber of Tharna, when she had seemed consumed with rage, when it seemed she wanted to lash the flesh from my bones.

What is the significance of the rug and cords?" I asked.

In ancient days, in Tharna," said Lara, "things were different than they are today."

And then, in the slaver's tent, Lara, who had been Tatrix of Tharna, told me something of the strange history of her city. In the beginning Tharna had been much as other cities of Gor, in which women were too little regarded and enjoyed too few rights. In those days it had been a portion of the Rites of Submission, as practiced in Tharna, to strip and bind the captive with yellow cords and place her on a scarlet rug, the yellow of the cord being symbolic of talenders, a flower often associated with feminine love and beauty, the scarlet of the rug being symbolic of blood, and perhaps of passion.

He who had captured the girl would place his sword to her breast and utter the ritual phrases of enslavement. They were the last words she would hear as a free woman.
"Weep, Free Maiden.
Remember your pride and weep.
Remember your laughter and weep.
Remember you were my enemy and weep.
Now you are my helpless captive.
Now you lie at my feet.
I have bound you with yellow cords.
I have placed you on the scarlet rug.
Thus by the laws of Tharna do I claim you.
Remember you were free.
Know now you are my slave.
Weep, Slave Girl.

At this point the captor would untie the girl's ankles and complete the rite. [Interesting that our prissy prof can't bring himself to say the word "rape"] When she rose from the rug to follow him, she was, in his eyes and hers, a slave.

Over a period of time this cruel practice fell into disuse and the women of Tharna came to be more reasonably and humanely regarded. Indeed, through their love and tenderness, they taught their captors that they, too, were worthy of respect and affection. And, of course, as the captors came gradually to care for their slaves, the desire to subjugate them became less, for few men long desire to subjugate a creature for whom they genuinely care, unless perhaps it be they fear to lose her should she be free.

Yet as the status of these women became more ennobled and less clearly defined the subtle tensions of dominance and submission, instinctual throughout the animal world, tended to assert themselves. [If you don't keep them subjugated, they'll emasculate you and turn you into Godless Commies instead of Godless Heroes!]

The balance of mutual regard is always delicate and, statistically, it is improbable that it can
long be maintained throughout an entire population. Accordingly, gradually exploiting, perhaps unconsciously, the opportunities afforded by the training of children and the affections of their men, the women of Tharna improved their position considerably over the generations, also adding to their social power the economic largesse of various funds and inheritances.

Eventually, largely via the conditioning of the young and the control of education, those superiorities which the female naturally possesses came to be enlarged on at the expense of those possessed by the male. [Feminazis!] And just as in our own world it is possible to condition entire populations to believe what is, from the standpoint of another population, incomprehensible and absurd, so in Tharna both the men and the women came eventually to believe the myths or the distortions advantageous to female dominance. Thus it was, gradually and unnoticed, that the gynocracy of Tharna came to be established, and honored with the full weight of tradition and custom, those invisible bonds heavier than chains because they are not understood to exist.

Yet this situation, socially viable though it might be for generations, is not one truly productive of human happiness. Indeed, it is not altogether clear that it is preferable to the male-dominated ethos of most Gorean cities, which, too, surely has its unfortunate side. In a city such as Tharna the men, taught to regard themselves as beasts, as inferior beings, seldom develop the full respect for themselves essential to true manhood. But even more strangely the women of Tharna do not seem content under the gynocracy. Although they despise men and congratulate themselves on their more lofty status it seems to me that they, too, fail to respect themselves. Hating their men they hate themselves.

I have wondered sometimes if a man to be a man must not master a woman and if a woman to be a woman must not know herself mastered. I have wondered how long nature's laws, if laws they are, can be subverted in Tharna. I have sensed how a man in Tharna longs to take the mask from a woman, and I have suspected how much a woman longs for her mask to be taken. Should there ever be a revolution in the ways of Tharna I would pity her women— at least at first— for they would be the object of the pent-up frustrations of generations. If the pendulum should swing in Tharna, it would swing far. Perhaps even to the scarlet rug and yellow cords.

So it didn't start till later in the series? Just excuse me while I light that petard you're sitting on, Mr. Privileged Fanboy.*

* Like this guy: "Norman's later writing became far too sexist for me to stomach, but the first several are pretty good stories if you like the genre." I guess he means the genre of bathetically-written fanboy BDSM...
Tags: badfic, chauvinism, fandom, gor, libertarianism, misogyny, sexism, worldbuilding, writing

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