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A Review of

Dancer of Gor

by John Norman

 

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Summary

This is quite possibly the worst book with some kind of belly dance tie-in that I've ever read. It's either this, or Belly Laughs by Rod Long.

Doreen Williams is a shy, retiring librarian, but feels drawn to belly dance for the sensual expression it offers. When aliens from another world abduct her and take her back to their planet, she discovers a sensuality insider herself that she'd had no idea existed.

This is soft-core pornography, masquerading under a science fiction façade.

Dancer of Gor

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

Dancer of Gor

Author

John Norman

ISBN

0-886771005

Publisher

Daw Books, Inc.

Category

Fantasy, Soft-Core Pornography

Rating

Star

Number of Pages

479

Published In

1985

 

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Description

This is the 22nd book in a 26-part "swords & sandals" series by John Norman, based on his fictitious world of Gor. Norman's premise is that a planet named Gor was settled at some point in the past by humans, and sometimes these humans return to earth to abduct people to serve their purposes on Gor. Although typical modern-day Earth people have never heard of Gor, many Goreans have certainly heard of Earth, and some possess the technology to travel back and forth easily between the two planets. The book doesn't bother to explain why a society that possesses the technology for inter-planetary travel doesn't apply this knowledge to their day-to-day lives. People still travel in oxcarts and live in a medieval fashion.

Slavery is very much a part of the fabric of Gorean culture, and the slavers find Earth to be a useful place to go in search of suitable captives. Male slaves are used for manual labor, and females as "pleasure slaves", also known as "kajiras".

The lead character in this book is Doreen, a librarian who is so terrified of her own sexuality that she panics one evening after trying on a silk camisole in front of the mirror in the privacy of her own apartment. Later, she musters all her courage and enrolls in a belly dancing class, but she's deeply ashamed at the discovery that she feels a primal connection to it. She fantasizes about being a slave in a long-vanished society, held in bondage by a potent, manly master. She really doesn't resemble any of the belly dancing librarians that I've actually met!

Naturally, repressed little Doreen comes to the attention of Gorean slavers who force her to face her bondage fantasies, and whisk her off to a new world where she will have the opportunity for her dreams of bondage to come true as a kajira.

Although focused on what life in bondage is like for Doreen, this book does attempt to have a plot. Sort of. It begins while she is still on Earth, and tells how she came to be captured. Next it describes the training that she undergoes to make her a particularly luscious pleasure slave, and reveals how she came to be sold to a tavern where she serves drinks, dances to please the patrons, and auctions off her "services" to the highest bidder. Life at the tavern is reasonably comfortable for Doreen (at least, by Gorean slave girl standards), and we're even treated to a scene in which she does a "slave dance" performance for the patrons, enacting the story of her bondage and her feelings toward it. Alas, her idyllic life is rudely interrupted when a jealous rival decides to eliminate the competition.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Book If...

  • You enjoy pornographic fiction focused on sexual bondage.
  • You're part of the bondage-and-leather community, looking for inspiration for fantasies you can act out.
  • You have enjoyed other Gor books, though I can't imagine why.

 

This Book Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You would be triggered by a book entirely focused on sexual bondage.
  • You expect fiction to contain plot and character development.
  • You lose patience with badly-written prose.
  • You enjoy the romance novel approach of describing whose body parts caressed whose in what way. The author describes the actual restraints in a large amount of detail, explaining precisely how the shackles, ropes, collars, hoods, whips, cages, and leashes are applied to Doreen and her fellow slaves. However, once it's time for "the main event", it's usually summed up in one short sentence: "He put me to his uses."
  • You're not interested in soft-core porn.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

It's not easy to find good points in such a poorly-written book, but I'll do my best.

  • It could be entertaining bedtime reading for those whose sexual fantasies run in the bondage direction.
  • There is some level of medieval adventure about this book, as Doreen's new life takes her into many situations that would never have been dreamed of on Earth.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • This book is poorly written. It's even worse than Fifty Shades of Grey. The writer goes on and on for many paragraphs at a time with respect to what his characters are thinking. Much of this is garbage, and I found myself skipping entire pages at a time.
  • Doreen's internal conflict between longing to be in bondage, yet being ashamed of having such longing is rather difficult to believe.
  • Character development of everyone in the book is rather superficial.

To illustrate why I say the quality of the writing itself is poor, here is a representative sample of what Doreen has to say about her decision to start taking belly dancing classes:

For months before, I had toyed with the idea, or the fancy, or fantasy, the idea first having emerged after I had seen myself in the mirror on that incredible night in my room [the night she panicked after trying on a silk camisole], of taking lessons in dance. I had almost died on the phone, making inquiries about these things, and more than once, suddenly blushing crimson, or, from the feel of it, I suppose so, had hung up the phone without identifying myself. I was not interested, of course, in such forms of dance as ballet or tap. I was interested in a form of dancing which was more basic, more fundamental, more female. The form of dance I was interested in, of course, and this doubtless accounted for my timidity, my hesitation and fear, was ethnic dance, or, if you prefer, to speak perhaps more straightfwardly, "belly dancing." Happily it was always women who answered the phone. I do not think I could have dared to speak to a man of this sort of thing. Like most modern women I was concerned to conceal my sexual needs. To reveal them would have been just too excruciatingly embarrassing. What woman would dare to reveal to a man that she wants to move, would dare to move, before those of his sex in so beautiful and exciting a manner, in a way which proves that she is vital, and alive, and female, that she is astonishingly beautiful and inutterably desirable, in a way that will drive them mad with the wanting of her, in a way that shows them that she, too, has powerful sexual needs, and in her dance, as she presents and displays herself, striving to please them, that she wants them satisfied? Surely no virtuous woman. Surely only a despicable, sensuous slut, the helpless prisoner of her undignified and unworthy passions.

The above is lifted out of a very long paragraph that rambles on for 3 pages in this vein. It's truly painful to wade through.

 

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Conclusion

I've read better science fiction. I've read better swords & sandals novels. I've read better "bedside titillation". And yet, despite this book's many flaws, if you explore the Internet a little, you'll find that the bondage & leather community has embraced the Gor books with enthusiasm. Obviously, despite John Norman's tedious, repetitive, rambling writing style with weak plot and character development, his notions of a counter-Earth where women are enslaved to the desires of men resonates with the erotic fantasies of some people. I wouldn't recommend this book to most of my dance friends, but if you liked the Story of O or Fifty Shades of Grey, you might like this one too.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone associated with this book.

 

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