I confess: the title of this book confounds me. It's strangely fitting - my dubious interpretation being that it describes the state of the main character (Erred) throughout nearly the entire book - but at the same time, it's an incredibly odd thing to allude to in a book title. What it does do, however, is hint at the tone of the novel; i.e. miserable. I admit I far more enjoy fluffy reads or, at least, books that contain some sort of humor, but that's really quite the opposite of this book. I always appreciate a good slave fic, but - to my embarrassment - I definitely prefer the happier, obviously more romanticised, stories of this genre.
Everything about this book was very well done. The writing is incredibly decent and -- if I had the confidence to claim such a thing -- is actually very good. I found no obvious editing mistakes which is always a win, and the author paints an incredibly realistic, functional fantasy world -- realistic enough to make me grimace and lose faith in humanity, as our world often does.The cultures and religions and world which were created by the author and breathed life into are fascinating and hypnotising in their complexity. The deeds done and deeds suffered in this novel is incredibly painful to read about and horrifically brutal, something which definitely suggests a slave fic done well. The characters are skilfully fleshed out and all very true to life and strictly grey zone, which often makes them difficult to like, but the realism and skill involved is appreciated and noted nonetheless.
There is a weird feeling you get while reading this book-- this odd sense of being directionless, floating aimlessly in an ocean. There isn't really a climax or anything of a sort; for me, I spent the entire book feeling a muted yet heightened sense of unease that didn't relent, even when painful situations relieved themselves.
Something of importance to note if you are planning to tackle this is that although this is a romance the main character not only passes through several masters and 'lovers' (if you can call them that, but a word with such positive connotations can't really be used to describe them) but he also forms bonds with them on varying levels which may confuse you. I spent much of the time trying to guess who Erred would eventually end up with, if he would be in a true relationship with anyone at all and even worrying about if he would end up with this or that person. In saying that, if you're looking for a classic romance, a happy romance or a slave fic where there is a clear love interest, this book is not what you should be perusing. There isn't much satisfaction we readers get from the romance, unfortunately (and here is the part where I would love some romanticisation); the damage done from suffering so much brutality makes love seem quite a distant and unfathomable concept. Even when there love to be had, it's not the typical, clear, all-conquering and burning passion that makes us all fuzzy inside.
However, not matter what you are or are not looking for currently, this is definitely a good read. Although I didn't enjoythis book (If 'enjoy' literally means joy and fuzzy feels) I was captivated -- enthralled even -- by the descriptive writing and brutal tale told.