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Dec 27 2016

The Academy by Laura Antoniou

[This is the text of the book review from episode 35.]

The book this episode is The Academy: Stories from The Marketplace, which is the fourth book in The Marketplace series by Laura Antoniou. –I’ve learned how to pronounce her name properly.

I reviewed the first book in episode one, which introduces the reader to the world of The Marketplace and is called The Marketplace. It’s an international organization that facilitates the deep-seated need some people have to be owned or for some to own other humans. Everything’s consensual. It’s a well-thought-out, complex organization. Each book focuses on one particular aspect of how the Marketplace works and also gives us more information about the enigmatic and charismatic Chris Parker.

The second book was The Slave, which was reviewed in episode six.

The third was The Trainer and was the subject of episode twenty-five.

In this installment we follow the ever-present Chris Parker to The Academy—the once yearly meeting of Marketplace trainers from around the world. Chris has brought along Michael, who is himself in training to become a trainer—his story continues from the previous book.

This novel differs from the others in that it isn’t entirely written by Antoniou. The framing story of the Academy is, but as the various characters tell stories about people they know, those stories are provided by guest authors. The first is by Karen Taylor and it features my favourite character from the first book, Claudia.

Claudia had been sent to a training house in upstate New York where Chris Parker was majorduomo by her mistress in order to become better in all ways. Her mistress knew she could be in charge of the household, as well as a good slave, but little Claudia had no confidence. After Michael sees her in action he can’t believe the stories he hears of what she supposedly used to be like.

We also catch up with another character from the first novel.

Other stories are about trainers who went wrong—sometimes badly, in stories that were, frankly, triggery. I look for sexyness to read at the end of the episode and several of these stories were: NOPE! Nopers with a nopenope on top.

Michael has finally learned his place and is beginning to see just how difficult it is to be a slave and what goes into being the best trainer. Which is good because at first I was: The character I like least of them all and I have to put up with him for another book?

Meanwhile, politics and intrigue are afoot in the Marketplace and it can be difficult to know who’s on whose side. The quality of material that’s been coming in has been decreasing and just how to handle that is up for debate. As in, literal debate, which is what they will be discussing at this gathering.

I love this sort of thing. Give me some minutes to take and some papers to file and I’m happy, but I could see how this could bore some people. For those—the variety of stories that happen between the framing story of politics should make up for it. I enjoyed both so was extra happy.

The Academy took place in Japan that year—I’ve not been to Japan, and I don’t know if Antoniou has, either, but the descriptions of everything from nature to furnishings was lovely. (I would guess she has been.)

As with all of the Marketplace books, there are moments where someone explains what draws people to service.

There are meals, there is entertainment, there are human horsies and a human dog-race, which sounded AMAZING. Of course there’s sex—just a little.

The Academy brings together trainers from around the world—the Marketplace is international, after all, so the guest-written stories span the globe, which was really enjoyable. Each one was well-written and blended seamlessly, though the characters weren’t ‘regular cast members’ so to speak. Contributing authors included Cecilia Tan, Karen Taylor, Michael Hernandez, david stein and Christian Muncy. Some authors wrote more than one story.

We also get to see how Chris came into the Marketplace. Chris is the sort of person who seems born to be there so the idea that he had to find his way in and train is a little discombobulating, but there’s an extended (and very satisfying) section on how that came about.

I don’t know how anyone can’t be a little in awe of Chris Parker.

Chris Parker for President.

4/5 if you find fictional politics boring. 5/5 if you don’t. Read it anyway. There’s lots of Chris.

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