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Like her half breed mother young Zar Daruel can't always hold her tongue A peasant on a large dragon estate she goes unnoticed by the Temple of the Dragon until she accidentally captures the attention of an eccentric and dangerous dragonmaster unleashing a storm of tragedy Her clan is plunged into destitution her beautiful sister Waivia sold into slavery and her mother lost to madness

10 thoughts on “Touched by Venom

  1. says:

    I've been tempted by Touched by Venom for a long time The cover art is sensual; the blurb is intriguing and contains a promising uote by Jacueline Carey one of my favorite authors Something held me off though until recently but I finally broke down and bought Touched by Venom used First of allyowza I thought I was into dark fantasy Little did I know compared to Touched by Venom pretty much everything I've ever read is all rainbows and unicorns This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart Janine Cross doesn't shy away from the grit of a peasant's life brutality disease excrement or from the scourges of racism sexism and classism Our heroine Zar is on the wrong end of all three of these bigotries and so her life is difficult in the extreme Readers may be particularly disturbed by the inclusion of female circumcision in Touched by Venom There is also bestiality in this novel I'm not going to bash Cross for including atrocities in her novel; after all with the obvious exception of dragon bestiality all of these horrors have occurred in humanity's past and many are still occurring today I do think the story would have been better had it included any sort of brightness any sort of tenderness between the characters anything to break up the relentless parade of brutality Some reviews have compared Touched by Venom to Anne Bishop's BLACK JEWELS series I disagree; BLACK JEWELS had humor romance and friendship If this is similar to any of Bishop's work it's her Match Girl short story which focused on the tortures inflicted on suspected witches during the Burning Times I also believe that Touched by Venom could have been paced better andor the heroine made dynamic Zar spends the first half of the novel as a small child; all of her decisions are made for her by others Even after she grows to late adolescence Zar seldom makes a choice of her own instead being buffeted along by the will of others It's only after page 300 that she really starts acting of her own volition the book is less than 400 pages long by the way And even when she does she does it in such a thoughtless way and makes such a botch of it that I don't have much sympathy for her It may be realistic that a society as oppressive as this one would produce citizens as passive as Zar However that doesn't necessarily make for the best story Fantasy works best in my opinion when the main character has spirit and courage beyond the ordinary The character doesn't have to be perfect — in fact it's often compelling when she's a flawed person with a humble background — but she needs to be the kind of person who writes his or her own destiny I've heard that Zar begins to defy the powers that be in the two seuels to Touched by Venom Unfortunately this book doesn't exactly inspire me to reach for the others I may end up giving them a try eventually as Cross's prose is competent but for now I think I'm going to take my leave of Zar DaruelRead this and other Janine Cross reviews at FantasyLiteraturenet

  2. says:

    Good lord this one keeps you wanting It's beautifully written seriously intense harrowing with amazing world building and an admirable strong heroine But it moves at the speed of molasses I mean it's slooooow Seriously the first 50% of the book covers Zar's life as a 9 year old The next 40% is age 10 17 and a whole heck of a lot of hard living and sacrifice The next 8% shows her coming to grips with her situation and in the last 2% something finally happens Yep all that social revolution stuff hinted at in the book blurb happens in the last pagesTHE LAST PAGESand then and THEN holy hotcakes Batman it's a big ol' rage inducing cliffhanger Grrrr I have all three books in this series and spent most of this book thinking I wouldn't bother with the second and third I mean even though it really is an astonishing piece of writing it's also a major downer As and example at one point the fallout of the actions of one 9 year old boy destroys the lives and livelihoods of an entire village with devastating irreversible long lasting affects Honestly what do you do with that? This is not a book to pick up for the feel good factor There isn't any But that last 10% gives me hope that the plot might FINALLY be picking up and I'll see where book two goes Ms Cross can string a tale she can weave atmosphere she can bring you to tears—laughter maybe not so much but heart rending agony sure—and she can create a believable fantasy world Worth reading

  3. says:

    Based on what I had heard about it and some of the reviews I glanced over I anticipated giving Touched by Venom one star because that's the lowest available rating But I said I'd read it so I read it And I liked it than I thought I would especially if I overlook some of its glaring literary sins The world itself reminds me a LOT of Ricardo Pinto's The Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy so if you like that you should read this one and vice versa Touched by Venom follows the story of a young girl named Zar who lives a very hard life The culture she lives in is a caste system and her and her family and their pottery clan are among the lowest level Everyone sees dragons as divine and worships them Zar eventually has to travel with her mother after her family is ripped apart and try to make her way in the brutal world get revenge and figure out what she wants to do with her lifeThemes Drug Use Family Loyalty and PTSD Zar's and mine after reading this bookThe GoodFantastic world building It's obvious this is a brutal world especially for those on the lower castes and women in general Zar very clearly has PTSD and is haunted in ways than one by her mother's obsession with view spoilerfinding her sister Waivia hide spoiler

  4. says:

    Is a fantasy novel by a certain Janine Cross which first appeared in 2005 and would have sunk without a trace but for the internets picking up on it as a prime example of awful awful literature However I only learnt about it recently through the So Bad It's Horrible pages on TV Tropes And to be fair the premise didn't sound all that hopeless when I heard about it that is thud and blunder from the female perspective But I was assured otherwiseI though I'd best review it then At least it wasn't teen romance drivel or shite erotica I thought But I was soon to find that this is a bad ideaExecutive SummaryVenom Cocked Dragon Worshippers of Gor likeA bit detail if you don't mind?The first thing I noticed about this novel apart from the venom cock was that every single character had a name that could only have come about as a result of tits on a keyboard Okay it wasn't uite as bad as The Eye of Argon no Grignrs or Mrifks here But it's not far off The protagonist is a young girl named Zar Which is a swearword in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy isn't it She has an elder sister called Waivia or Waisi and is a member of Clutch Re a tribe that seems vaguely African in inspiration reading between the lines which worships dragons for some reason There's a secondary character called Xxef Keau also and another called Nnp trnThe second thing I noticed about it was that this worship of dragons doesn't stop the members of her tribe using the flesh and eggs and skin of dragons for all manner of mundane uses Isn't this slightly like a Catholic priest serving communion wine in the local pub after the services? Or the Ayatollah using a ur'an for bog paper? Or a Hindu chowing down on a Double Whopper? Am I missing something here? I must be because this makes no senseAnyhow she's really close to her sister and is rather nonplussed when the elder sister who is meant to be very attractive gets sold into sex slavery or in the impenetrable parlance of the books a kiyu We're told that kiyu is also the word in the protagonist's language for a horrible smell and is applied to sex slaves because after years of service the smell of stale semen pus blood and suchlike constantly emanates from between their legs causing all around them to pinch their noses and go kii yuuuuuI swear to all the gods I am not making this up Thanks Zar We really didn't need to know thatAnyhow Zar ends up being taken into service in a dragon temple and is circumcised We're treated to a lengthy scene of her infibulation Oh joy But this isn't all she ends up being subjected to sex slavery as well despite having had the appropriate parts to carry out said duties hacked off But not to worry she enjoys it anyhow Nice going Janine You fail female genital mutilation forever But nevertheless this fearless noder carried on trawling through the incessant incessant scenes where Zar the newly infibulated draconic handmaiden learns the care and feeding of dragons We're treated to exceptionally dull scene after exceptionally dull scene in which we're told all about this and the many uses of dragon venom Apparently it burns up your insides is an anaesthetic and is addictive There seems to be some sort of a plot but I can't work out what it is suffice to say the heroine ends up addicted to venom and suchlike and ends up whoring herself out for it I don't bloody knowBasically it's a fantastical misery memoir isn't itThe author also seems to suffer from terribly purple prose as well Every sentence drips with modifiers Here's a line I pulled up at random I launched myself toward the wheaten haired person draped in porphyry and emerald silks upon the overstuffed carriage seats within He turned in a miasma of alcohol and perfume and grilled meat and as his eyes widened and his mouth opened my machete slashed forward across his long golden neck but my shroud my makmaki shroud that had protected me and camouflaged me thus far hindered my wild slash and my blade slashed not across his throat but across one smooth rounded shoulder and as the momentum of my strike carried me forward and I fell against the person I would have killed I realized it was not Kratt was not even a man I'm sure that there's way too many adjectives in here Let's have a little style class children Adjectives are to be used sparingly Adverbs even so Similarly humping a thesaurus is not fun for your reader I'm sure that if I'd written that I'd have cut it down to half its size Especially action seuences like that you don't overstuff with adjectives because it ruins the flow and makes what was a uick fast action bit all sluggish While she was describing the irrelevant interior of the carriage her victim would no doubt have dodged out the way or otherwise run for it Similarly by loading everything with constant florid description the author only serves to bloat the novel and make you wonder what is going onAnd what is going on because at the end the book suddenly stops It ends with Zar revealed as a girl which is a Big Deal in the plot as only men are allowed to do what she was doing and about to be whipped and her craving her next fix of venom And then we're treated to a big advert for the seuelBut you don't care about that do you You're still wondering what a venom cock is aren't you After all the reason this novel became a snark object on the internets was because of the venom cock Righty ho then Here goes Well you asked for it 'Lookit the thize of that one' he bellowed 'That'th a cock hey o' He tugged on his own little thing beneath his dirty loincloth A venom cock they're called I'd heard the words grunted respectfully among pottery clan men I'd also heard the words mentioned by women wearing a carefully blank expression cultivated to hide opinion Understand women do not revere the venom cock as men do They see it for what it is an uncontrollable reaction to an impending event and a slightly foolish reaction at that Dono's reverence was a mystery to me back then made all the mysterious by his assertions about what a venom cock could do slay a woman Cripple a baby Turn pleasurers into deaf blind barren idiots Good night originally written for everything2com

  5. says:

    I got this book because I heard how one of the Tiptree judges took a strong stand about nominating this book and how all the other judges vehemently opposed it I can really see both sidesMy favorite thing about this book as how clearly it illustrates how the religion and worldview embraced by the people of a country shape every aspect of the society from the political system to family dynamics even for people who don't personally believe in the religion The book also does a great job of showing the dangers of religious authoritarianismI also like how Cross engages with important feminist issues such as economic social and sexual agency for women and clearly illustrates how the culture one is born into shapes such things It is perfectly clear in this world that women can't just stop making themselves into victims and be fineWhat bugged me about the book is how over the top The Patriarchy is in this world It makes it too easy for the reader to just shudder and say Well thank goodness I live in a enlightened society Tying patriarchial power structures to such a fantastical world almost denies the existence of much subtler power structures in the real world

  6. says:

    This has got to be the absolute worst book I have ever had the misfortune to read It was a journey through pure misery compounded by misery with a bit of sexual perversion thrown in I will never waste my time by reading the rest of the series

  7. says:

    Do not mock the venom cock

  8. says:

    As part of my 'to read list' covers the theme of dragons and fantasy I ultimately stumbled upon this book and was intrigued by the contrasting reviews it receivedI would never have picked up this book in the past ever since that traumatizing episode with the Black Jewels trilogy which I think I wasn't 'old' enough to read yet considering what goes on in this book is just as dark disgusting disturbing yet horrifying in a way you can't rip your eyes away from It confronts you that such brutal things do happen in real life and that such reality is inescapable sometimes and this is where I suppose the 'realness' of it can turn off readersFirst of all you have to know that the book cover you're looking at there? If you're hoping for some cool sensual mature heroine in a typical fantasy PNR with a happy ending or beginning this book is not that You're hoping for some dragon taming and young lady overpowering her situation to achieve greatness and finding love and friendship along the way? Hah that's what I thought so too I think that another reason why the book sets up for the disappointed reviews is because of the illusion of the cover I have to admit I do judge books by their covers and no matter how many times I've been burnt I just don't learn So to give you a rough image of the story the cover of the book should have been some young girl child or village shrouded in a much darker grimmer setting with the dragon in the background instead of the foregroundThe story starts off with this 9 year old girl who's given a boy's name Zar Yep people she's NINE you read that right As for the writing I wouldn't call it bad like what other readers have said I think it's pretty good actually once you get past the difficulty of trying to read it fast It's ornate richly detailed steeped in the smells and scenery and culture that the author has created and raw with gritty emotion I felt like I was looking through the eyes of little Zar that's the feeling it gave me richly realistic When you read you can almost feel the clamouring sweaty heat of the crowds in the market jostling to see the dragon hear the oily sinuous crack of the venom tainted whip and know what it's like living as a claymaker's youngest daughter in a house busy with the thudding sounds of soft clay being molded into intricate works of art The only thing bad is that you have to read kind of slow to get everything or else it all becomes a tedious jumble of wordsZar encounters the dragonmaster for the first time and is both appalled and intrigued by the selection of dragonmaster apprentices She later on learns that her mother is of the same outcast race as the dragonmaster – Djimbi a race of jungle tribe people who are known for their mottled green and brown skins and unorthodox ways Her father is an average man of few words but loving towards his wife and children Waivia or Waisi is Zar’s older sister and only other sibling in the family She’s described to be a haughty beautiful girl who’s determined to escape the rural life and become an ebani which is a rich concubine or geisha of sorts to the aristocrats Zar’s mother however is the one whom Zar shares the closest relationship with and later on also the most damagingThe book drags on awhile twisting and turning through the politics and authoritarian like culture with the Temple laying down all its rules and traditions somewhat similar to medieval life where the church’s power is unuestionable and women are seen as second and lowly to man The main plot only happens when Waivia gets traded to another family due to dire circumstances and her mother descends into a mad woman’s rage and desperation to win back the affections of her daughter and to buy her back She behaves as only a true mother would when her flesh and blood is taken away from her by force yet this takes a toll on 9 year old Zar who has to shoulder her mother’s burden and watch her wither away to madness Things only get worse when her mother learns of Waivia being sold to slavery and from there on it is all a downward spiral into tragic loss and despairAll in all the book is not pretty it is not nice or funny and there is nothing mild about it What you see is not what you get with the cover but what you do get is this Pandora’s Box of dark wonders filled with all sorts of grim and raw recounts from Zar At the end of it what you get is a spark of ‘life’ I wouldn’t call it ‘hope’ exactly as this is not your typical fantasy fairytale it’s far too base to be that it’s like the fight you see in a cornered dog’s eyes what you see when an average person is dealt a bad hand in life and suffers as a result of that all the while still madly surviving I feel that Zar isn’t a heroine or anti heroine just a little girl growing up in the oppressive culture of her world too fast with the shadow of her mother upon her back who is discovering all the ‘wrong’ things and bad things in life and discovering what she wants to do and be She’s just there to tell a story her story The only thing that irked me was how she didn’t seem to want to go search for her sister by herself until I realized that she doesn’t love her sister as much as her mother and her dear mother’s obsession with her sister is what probably pushes and tears and pulls her all at once into the mess she isThe themes in the book are indeed unacceptable gruesome and dark as compared to our first world societies and morality however bearing in mind that this is a twisted fantasy society we’re talking about whatever they do is not so different from what is committed in our world Art can be ugly too but in its ugliness there’s a truthful kind of rawness a beastly necessary sort of morbid beauty and all I can say is I caught a glimpse of that offered in this book so it’s worth giving it a shot

  9. says:

    I'm very torn on this book I got it because of the Jacueline Carey uote on the front that said the book was compelling and harrowing Well I've read and loved the Kushiel series so I should have known to expect something darkGuys this book has some tough content Parental neglect rape drug addiction bestiality female circumcision religious oppressionIt's a tough read but the world was fascinating The religion centering around reverence for dragons as deities was different and interesting It WAS compelling and harrowing But I can't continue the series it's too dark for me

  10. says:

    This book showed up in a recommended list and I wasn't too sure if it would be something I was interested in or not The cover looked intriguing but I learned that cover was entirely misleading and that scene doesn't exist in any of the books I decided to read the first book due to all of the appalled reviews because seriously if they were that bad they would not have been published I ended up reading the entire trilogyYup there was rape abuse murder sodomy racism poverty castration male and female and bestiality though not in how you would assume Pretty much the baseline reuirements for any gritty medievalfantasy type novelsMy issues with this series is that the author uses terms that are not readily explained Characters have multiple names and then the main character will just refer to a character with a name even though that name was never mentioned previously As an example some of the dragons were suddenly named or people were given names based off of characteristics Sometimes the names were explained and other times they just appearedThe author's writing style is verbose which makes for some long drawn out scenes I found the main character selfish and annoying the character herself and not her addiction component Seriously some guy tries to kill her a couple of times but she needs to save him because he is her milk brother and family At no time does she think about the welfare of her real brother or even reuniting with him Her perceived need for retribution overrides any logic and she doesn't care about the conseuences to others repeatedly She learns skills like reading and writing which no one in her caste level would learn but she isn't grateful for it She gets training in the dragon stables but only cares about her whims and not maximizing the opportunities afforded to herI found this written world completely annoying with its penis obsession Seriously worse than Moby Dick and completely overt descriptions Let's see men walking around with erections descriptions of male dragon anatomy and how they need stimulation to get a hard on yup the male reptiles have dangly bits in this trilogy and every other page has at least one reference to phallus The main character was castrated at the age of nine For someone who has gone through that procedure she seems to enjoy lesbian sex an awful lot I'm not sure how that works the orgasmic portion of it but hey rock on little ladyThere is a lot going on in this trilogy but it seems like too much is shoved into one person's perspective TL;DR Castrated outcast orphan girl fails at revenge becomes a drug addict loves sex with women and isn't the heroine Oh and lots of people die