Title: Khymeera Kollection #1
Author: Joanna Noor
Publisher: Forty Lashes Press
Publication Date: July 29, 2018
Shelves: Female-dominant, Female-fronted, Female-author, Transgender
I’m not sure what it was that first caught my eye with this series first. Okay, so, actually I do. It was the blurb for Kock Rider of Khymeera, the first full-length novel in the series, which had a definite Gor vibe to it – albeit one with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, some gender-bending, and a wealth of LGBT diversity (all thing sorely lacking from John Norman’s work). I was intrigued, so I decided to sample Joanna Noor’s world with her first Khymeera Kollection of short stories.
It was a good choice. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories, so much so that I’ve already ordered both novels in paperback to go with it.
STORMING THE BARBARIAN’S GATES is pure pulp fantasy erotica. It has all the classic trappings of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and John Norman, right down to the language and the atmosphere, but with a very modern sense of kink. At its heart, it’s the story of an Amazon Queen turning the tables on the Barbarian King who dared abduct her. There is magic aplenty to the story, mostly of the illusionary, shape-shifting kind, which leads to an erotic (and amusing) sort of ironic justice. What immediately impressed me about this first story was four things – the world-building, which is introduced nicely here; the character development, which has surprising nuances for a short story; the way Noor plays with gender and sexuality, showing them to be naturally fluid and adaptable to change; and the equal balance between the genres of fantasy and erotica.
DILDOR RAMPAGE! takes things in an entirely different direction, exploring the kind of companion comedy that sword-and-sorcery does so well, replacing Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or Elric and Moonglum with Kamika and Nessa. It picks up on the classic trope of stranding the heroes in the wilderness, without weapons or mounts, and even confronts them with a helpful (but really not) stranger who is keen to offer outlandish advice from a distance. The Dildors of the title are akin to Velociraptors in heat and, let’s be honest, the only way to make erotic sword-and-sorcery better is to add dinosaurs! Beneath all the sex, the story has something to say about friendships, relationships, and coming out, and does so tastefully (if with a healthy dose of kink).
THE WIZARD’S MAGICAL WOOD is the story that took me from entertained reader to hardcore fan. This is a dark tale, more pulp horror and sword-and-sorcery, dealing with lost love, dark magic, dangerous wishes, and supernatural betrayal. At first, I thought Noor had gone too far with her erotic rendition of the ‘wound’ in the enchanted tree, but once I realized where she was taking the story, and just how cleverly symbolic (and literal) Wrenn’s obsession was, I became convinced. The way she guides the final scene through so many emotions, and the imagery she uses to do it, is just fantastic, but what I appreciated even more is the fact that there is no condemnation of the role and gender reversals within Wrenn’s love for Aletyha.
THE BIG BLACK KOCK takes us back to sword-and-sorcery, and does so with a story that is probably the deepest and most socially conscious of the collection. It is here that we really come to understand that Khymeera has prejudices of its own, no matter how diverse its genders, and that it is just as prone to bullying and institutional abuse as our own world is. It is something of a coming-of-age tale, but more a coming-out tale, one where our heroine, Parkor (ninja in training) betrays everything she has ever known to rescue a slave, fulfill a prophecy, and claim her own ambition. A powerful tale, full of action, adventure, and eroticism, with genuine emotion throughout.
Hopefully, this first Khymeera Kollection will not be Noor’s last, and I am equally hopeful that Kock Rider of Khymeera and Sukkubus of Khymeera are not the end of the story, but the first part of a trilogy, at the very least. It is a different take on the genre than Reed James’ The Knight and the Acolyte series, but one that will site nicely on the shelf next to those books. Now, if somebody else can figure out the trick of erotic fantasy, maybe one day I can fill that shelf . . .
Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀