book reviews · m/m romance · Sam's Favorite Books

Book Review: Lee Benoit’s “Servant of the Seasons” (2011)

51w6kvt89jl-_sy346_This is my kind of book! In the tradition of the post-Apocalyptic, survive-in-a-wasteland novel, we start with an almost barren farm and one man alone, learning about the land and barely surviving. Of course he doesn’t stay alone, and the farm doesn’t stay barren! I could read six thousand books in this series and never get sick of it- it has everything I love. I would happily read about Meco and his new companions and their home forever, gardening, building, cooking, discovering.

This book takes its time, following the seasons and the characters’ journeys learning about each other and building up their farm and house. It is wonderfully domestic, with plenty of attention given to the rhythms of daily life and new relationships. Of course, that’s not all it is; under everything is an ever-present threat of the outside world and the dangerous stranger. Meco’s family draws attention to themselves by their success in rehabilitating the ravaged land around them, and there’s plenty of people out there coveting their land and skills. The tension builds slowly, gradually, until it explodes and the action of the story kicks up twenty levels at once, racing towards the ending!

When it comes to characterisation and romance, Servant of the Seasons certainly delivers. Our main character Meco, a hapless yet sturdy “deviant” who’s been kicked out of his Dome, is joined by mysterious duo Tywyll and Lys early on, and it’s the relationship between the three men that forms the core of the story. What’s interesting is that Meco has come from a world without sexuality, where sexual desire is largely eliminated via chemical injections- and now that he’s on the outside, his body is his own, yet his desires are new, unfamiliar, frightening. That’s a complicated thing, and I think the author has treated Meco’s journey of discovery with patience and sensitivity. The story makes it clear that there’s more to intimacy and trust than sex, for all it’s a significant part of Meco’s new life.

The trio are soon joined by a forth, adding another dimension to their polyamorous relationship. It’s a completely non-jealous, supportive, all-accepting web, and if that seems somewhat unrealistic, it’s certainly satisfying- more than satisfying, for me at least. It probably does stretch credibility that there’s no jealousy or power imbalances between the four of them, but the bonds that hold them together seem more important than that. I would love to see how things develop between them, though; if I could ever have a sequel for any book, this would be very high on that list! (Wow, what a touch choice that would be, though!!)

{Summary from Amazon.com:}
When architect Mèco is turfed, or ejected from his protected but autocratic Dome, he finds himself adrift in a dying and dangerous land. With no choice but to scrape his survival from an abandoned farm, he tries to improve his prospects by acquiring an animal to pull his plow.

What he ends up with instead are two slaves, a bonded pair of Novigi, a strange people Mèco’s never heard of. As the land slowly awakens by their combined efforts, so does Mèco’s sense of himself as a man and maybe as a lover. But when their fragile home is threatened by brutal gangs of Salters, Mèco and his friends discover being servants of the seasons may not be enough to protect their new way of living and loving. They must become warriors.

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