Anne Rice’s Beauty Trilogy
Among the more famous of the modern world’s BDSM-themed literature is Anne Rice’s Beauty trilogy, written under the pen name A. N. Roquelaure. The first in the trilogy is The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, which details the waking of the sleeping Princess Beauty by the bold and dashing Crown Prince of Queen Eleanor’s kingdom, where tradition dictates that the surrounding kingdoms send their young Princes and Princesses to the Queen for training as pleasure slaves. The Crown Prince takes the Princess Beauty back to his kingdom, and thus commences her own slave training. In the second book, Beauty’s Punishment, the young Princess is sentenced to a year’s hard labor in the neighboring Village, where misbehaving slaves are sent to be quite literally whipped into shape. Just as she begins settling into her life as a village slave, a raid from foreign soldiers shatters her new contentment as she along with a handful of the other finest of the banished slaves are kidnapped and shipped off to the land of the Sultan. Thus begins the third and final book, Beauty’s Release. In this conclusion to the trilogy, Beauty and her closest companions Laurent and Tristan are molded into the finest of the Sultan’s pleasure slaves, each traveling down their own paths into their own brands of slavery. Just when they are settling into their opulent new lives, they are disrupted once again as they are rescued by emissaries of the Queen’s kingdom. They do not, however, return to their old lives, as many changes lie in wait for them, forever altering their futures before the book’s final scene fades to black.
The books in this trilogy differ from the BDSM-themed books I have read in the past in that these take a decidedly fantastical attitude. Unsurprisingly so, as the books are based on the old fairytale Sleeping Beauty. However, that turn into the realm of fantasy is largely what saves these books from being completely improbable to the point of being ridiculous. They are intended to be outside the realms of probability and reality, and thus are rendered entirely enjoyable. In addition, not only are the books enjoyable on a purely carnal level, but they are also very intriguing in that the spirit of the D/s and M/s relationships that constitute the backbone of the entire trilogy is one that applies itself even to modern-day D/s and M/s relationships. Beyond the everyday doings of the characters in the novels lies a philosophy of total surrender, total trust in the Dominant and total supplication to the situations in which the slaves find themselves. Their choices, their rights and often their dignity are stripped from them as surely as were their clothes, and yet they revel in it as it reveals different aspects not only of their own souls, but of the world around them.
I highly recommend this trilogy to anyone looking for erotic novels that offer more than a quick, crudely written “wham bam thank you ma’am.” They are raw yet poetic, carnal yet spiritual. In short, they are a full-bodied, deep and thoughtful look into a world under whose surface many do not dare to delve.