Gor 1-4

I recently read the first four Gor books by John Norman.

Purpose: To see what all the fuss was about regarding slavery in BDSM and the Gorean life.

Tarnsman (Book 1)
I found very little in the way of a slave lifestyle. What I did find was one of the most entertaining reads I've ever had. I'm not a Sword & Planet aficionado however I have certainly read The Dragonmasters by Jack Vance. Tarnsman is now and I bet will always be one of my go to classics. It was a fantastic romp through Gor in an adventure any teen boy would crave. Sure, I'm too old to be that kid now but have not forgotten the dreams and fantasies of my youth. I really can't say express how much I loved this book.
5 Stars

Outlaw (Book 2)
Thicker and not quite as good, but fairly similar to Tarnsman. It starts a series of events that generate a metaplot but it's very much in the background at this point. Quite enjoyable and still I have very little feel for this Gorean lifestyle.
4 Stars

Priest-Kings (Book 3)
I didn't find this volume nearly as fun as the previous two. It delves into the truth behind the myths of Gor. I didn't find myself sympathetic to any of the characters and there is some verisimilitude lost. The last seven chapters are excellent and make it all worthwhile.
3 Stars

Nomads (Book 4)
Very slowly we read explanations and descriptions. The first eighty percent of this book could be cut without much loss. There is a moment of nicely written imagery and a comment about Earth's hidden slavery, but truly I could have started much further into the book. After we waste time with the bulk of the book, there is a test of wills between characters that covers a great deal of dominance, submission, and the freedom it brings. It's philosophical and educational. Then there's a climax that relates to the metaplot and we're left with a question.
2 Stars

Seen as a whole?
Norman's prose in the first three books is marvellous. It felt like a different writer in the fourth however it was also the only one of the group I read that was the revised edition so hopefully that's the reason. The series starts off on an inescapable thrill ride of adventure that grabs you and flings you into the world of Gor. As it progresses, it gets slower and slower while fluffier, repetitive and boring. The world Norman has created is intriguing and he can certainly write action eerily similar to Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's in the world-building where the stories fade and you are sitting in front of your grade nine history teacher prattling on. Where does it go from Book 4? I'm sure someday I'll return to the series and continue learning.

Slavery.
While there's some slavery in the backdrop, it doesn't really come to the forefront until well into the fourth book. There is a single chapter that talks about how a woman can only be free by surrendering completely to a man. It then goes on to show it happen. Periodically Norman flicks back to Earth where we're all slaves anyway but just don't realize it. In essence he's using basic philosophy. We all surrender to something, We are all slaves. It's when we surrender fully to the right person where we suddenly become free. That freedom is an emotional and eye-opening experience that many never have. I always liked the analogy of how we start with baggage and pick more up along the road of life. It weighs us down over time and when we find this freedom, all the baggage falls from us and we can see clearly for the first time. We now know how insignificant all those things were that we let weigh us down. This is not from Norman but it feels like the same concept.

I don't think this philosophy is anything new, however the sexual overtones make it very exciting.

My Life.
There is some solid takeaway in the slave positions and reminding your slave of their position in the dynamic (collar, ring, brand, tatto, etc.). It's one heck of a great dynamic that I'm enjoying these days and while it's not necessarily Gorean, the books have offered some inspiration and help at times.