[This is the text of the book review from episode 25 of the podcast.]
In this episode I’ll be talking about The Trainer by Laura Antoniou, which is the third book in The Marketplace series. I reviewed the first book in episode one of the show and the second book in episode six.
The Marketplace, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a secret, international organization that trains people who wish to be 24/7 slaves in the truest sense of the word. Once each person is trained, they are auctioned off to the highest bidder, who could live anywhere in the world. That’s the very short version—it’s much more complex than that. And much sexier. Each book focuses on a different aspect of the organization.
The first book, The Marketplace, introduced the reader to the world of the novels through the eyes of four slaves—each of whom represents a particular archetype of slavehood—who’ve been sent to a training house in New York state.
The second book, The Slave, focuses on one person in particular and what it’s like to go from desiring to be a full-time slave to being trained to being placed and any successes or failures that result.
This time out the subject is on how trainers become trainers. Which is probably why it’s called The Trainer. It follows the story of Michael, who is similar to the Sharon character in the first book, but from the other side of the line—he thinks it’s all about sex, basically. He has no idea what he’s getting himself into. If he were a fragrance it would be Naivete No. 5.
A hallmark of the books is learning the life stories of the characters—seeing how they came to realize they were Marketplace material, whatever their position. The Marketplace is a massive international organization—besides the obvious slaves and trainers there are also spotters and trainers of trainers and who knows what else (I’ve only read three books, but I can’t wait to find out what else people do.)
And everyone involved has to be Marketplace approved.
So, sweet, deluded Michael. He’s from California. Well, there’s part of his problem right there—the person he’s been training under to be a trainer, a man named Geoff Negel, has a very loose philosophy of slave training. He views his job more as match-making slaves with the perfect owners and moving people around to find the best fit. Then advising owners not to go too hard on their property when it comes to making them do things they don’t want to do.
I could hear the pan-pipes playing in the background when his name was mentioned.
Michael accompanies Geoff to a Marketplace-run meet-up just for trainers and discovers the person he thinks of as revolutionary isn’t necessarily considered so by their British counterparts.
He also gets a taste of what properly trained slaves are like. And learns of a person referred to as Master Trainer Anderson. She trains trainers. She trained Chris Parker.
Ah, Chris. I do love him. He’s right at the start of the book, being his awesome self.
Chris Parker is the thread that runs through all of the books. He’s not the protagonist (nor an antagonist) but he plays a different role in each book. His story develops in each novel. The character is amazing. Bless Laura Antoniou for giving the world this character. Back to this novel, though.
I mentioned previously that Michael was sort of the trainer version of Sharon, who was my least favorite character in the first book. So having an entire book with an oblivious Isn’t-My-Radiant-Presence-Enough-type was …painful at times.
For example, Anderson has a massive library full of books on slave training, which includes her own notes and other notes by famous trainers around the world on various techniques. He’s given full access to this library. Does he use it? No, because he’s an idiot I wanted to strangle.
Every time Chris showed up I hoped he’d strangle him for me.
But, with characters of that nature I look at it like the author got it right. That’s exactly what some people are like.
It did make the sex scenes difficult to bear because I so profoundly disliked the guy I didn’t want him to enjoy himself. Ever.
As the novel progresses, we learn how on Earth Michael wound up with the best trainer in the Marketplace. We also find out just how unaware of his own stupidity he was. The depths, they are remarkable.
He’s the human embodiment of the phrase, ‘We don’t know what we don’t know.’
We learn some new (very interesting) things about Chris and about characters from previous books. A highlight for me was seeing an episode from the previous book, The Slave, from a different point of view.
Good old Mike has some growing pains and learns approximately 900 things about life, slavery and himself and makes a pretty big decision.
Though the protagonist is, thus far, the Marketplace character I like least of them all, this novel was still compelling. I started the fourth one immediately afterwards. He’s in that one, too. Joy illimited. I want to punch him less now. That’s progress.
Something I enjoyed about this one was ‘watching’ Chris train the people coming through the house. He was staying with Anderson for a period due to personal circumstances I’m not spoiling for you, but holy moly wow. And while there he was polishing up a few slaves. Michael was to learn how to train and we got to watch this. Seeing the philosophy behind training and proper slave care, so to speak, was interesting. Antoniou has fully fleshed out the world of the Marketplace. It’s clear she’s an actual kinky person who understands 24/7 total power exchange.
I wouldn’t recommend reading this one first if you haven’t read other books in the series. Definitely start with The Marketplace. Or at the very least The Slave or else something that happens at one point will make less sense.
Otherwise, I couldn’t put it down—it’s sexy, funny, creative, well-written—you know, all those things Antoniou does so well. It’s 5/5 easy.