No one can argue with Janet Morris's skill in creating beautifully written text. Her prose is of a standard not often seen and the imagery it provokes is almost without equal, even when it's a book written (and please don't kill me) before I was born. The content remains fresh, which is the hallmark of a classic.
The cover from 1977 is dated, yet one can imagine it was fresh and compelling when first released. 50 Shades of Grey it is not--hiding its content beneath a cover that gives little clue to what lies between its pages. I don't mind the older cover though perhaps it hints at more salacious aspects of the book.
And salacious it is. At its heart, it's more than just sci-fi/fantasy. It is an honest exploration of the female psyche and sexual relations. A world where reproduction is held to be in utmost importance, yet the females are not bound to one male and considered the property of father or spouse, but rather are .
There are restrictions and regulations, though, the women are not totally free, and those that are chosen to be well-keepresses are raised with the expectation of fulfilling male desire. It is an unflinching look at what amounts to be ritual prostitution and as a writer currently undertaking to write about Inanna, I find it to be a fantastic example of how to approach the subject with dignity.
What I found most disconcerting was Estri's naivety when compared to her age, abilities and education. Though this is the first book in a quartet and she's on a journey to discover who she really is, there was more than once when I found myself ever so slightly annoyed with the situations she'd find herself in and the men gaining control over her. I can understand how for some readers parts of the book would be too much. But I do think that one has to look at her experiences from her point of view rather than with modern sensibilities if one is to be able to enjoy the book.
Would I recommend this to everyone? I don't think so, but I do know there are many that would enjoy it and would look to read the remaining three books