If I Pay Thee Not in Gold by Mercedes Lackey, Piers Anthony
Published by Baen Books on July 1, 1993
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In the age of the Mazonians women rule through magic - and men suffer what they must. Magical creations only last for a single day (magical food is great for dieting), but that is quite long enough for casting a giant wet blanket (if you're feeling kind) over a would-be rampaging male - or a block of granite (if you're not). No uppity males in Mazonia!
But then as now some people rise above what they've been taught. One such is Xylina; somehow she has always understood that being of the wrong gender, or even lacking magical power, is no reason for stripping a human being of dignity. How ironic, then, that the Queen has ordained that in order to avoid execution Xylina must use her magic to publicly conquer the most glorious male Mazonia has ever seen - and how doubly so that together he and Xylina will transform their world.
This book…is pretty bad. On all accounts. The humor is not really there. The world-building is close to non-existent and the attitudes toward women is…disgusting. Its hard to imagine that two best selling novelists managed to put out this dreck and not have mud all over their faces.
Mazonia is a land ruled by women. Only women have magical powers so only women rule. It seems that – because women have the right to rule – almost all the women have turned into sexist pigs who believe in slavery. Because all men are slaves. WHAT? That’s right…all men are slaves to be cast aside – even if they are fathers of their Mistress’ children – when no longer useful. I did not try to figure out if there was a hidden social reason the authors decided to go this route. It seemed that it was for plots only.
I would have thought – that with all the women being in control…the book would manage to avoid the misogyny that can be prevalent in a lot of Fantasy. Nope. That was not to be. It turns out that the “good ladies” of Mazonia realize that their slave men have sexual urges. So they allow the import of women from a different land to be used as prostitutes. Yep, you got that right. What makes this extra disgusting is that these imported women have been magically changed so that they have paws or claws like animals. AND they have had their voices removed in favor of animal noises (chirps, meows, barking, etc) to match their paws. Yeah, I was all in the WTF??! area with that.
And somehow…this also manages to have been the very first Fantasy novel that I have read…that has a polyamorous relationship which included a ménage à trois and demon sex. O_O
With all of that aside…the book is about a young Mazonian woman who *thinks* she is cursed with bad luck. The blurb above…talks about the first 3% of the book and is not what the book is about. She is alone (only one slave to her name!) and takes out a loan to help with her finances. The loan comes due…and it turns out she owes the money to a local Demon. She argues with him…and thus the title of the book: If she can’t pay him in Gold, she will pay him in silver. I can’t really say any more without spoiling the book. Though why anyone else would want to read this is a mystery…
In order to assist with paying back her loan, the girl (Xylina) has to go on a quest. While on her quest she travels the land…so readers can see how poor the world-building is. And it is pretty bad.
I can’t really describe how bad this book is. So, I’ll let the authors tell you how bad the book is:
Mercedes Lackey on Piers Anthony:
If I Pay Thee Not in Gold is the first and last collaboration between the two authors.
Piers Anthony on Mercedes Lackey, If I Pay Thee Not in Gold, and Baen Books:
But my main irritation of the moment is the Audit. This is simplified, as all the details would be tedious and confusing. I have done some business with BAEN BOOKS, a publisher which at first seemed quite promising. But over the years there were little signals of mischief, and then larger ones, and finally a giant one that required me to take firm action. When I agreed to do If I Pay Thee Not In Gold there collaboratively, it was to be the first of a series. But when my collaborator dumped an insultingly sloppy manuscript on me-apparently she was angry at my assumption that I know how to write Piers Anthony style better than she know how to write Piers Anthony style-I cleaned it up as well as I could, a real headache, and told the publisher I would not do another. That marked the turning point in our relations. The publisher paid the collaborator more than $55,000, and paid me $400. And subsequently stopped sending me statements at all. The publisher had originally estimated, and stated so in the contract, that it expected to pay me, as the senior writer, on the order of $100,000. Obviously I would not have made the deal if I had known it would be for peanuts; money aside, the experience was already bad enough. Evidently the books started to be cooked the moment the publisher felt it didn’t need me any more. Not to put too fine a point on this, but I don’t think the collaborator’s contribution was worth well over a hundred times what mine was, and the failure even to send statements was an open breach of contract. I am not a good writer to stiff. When my agent’s repeated queries got nowhere, I acted directly, with a high powered New York auditor backed by the same lawyer I had used before to make TOR honor its own deal. Well, it has now been over four months, and the BAEN is still stonewalling the audit. Preliminary figures indicate that I am owed from $20,000 to $55,000, but these have to be confirmed, and the publisher is not providing the necessary accounts. I suspect it will take a court order to blast them out, and another to force payment actually to be made, with the threat of punitive damages. So the issue is not yet settled, but I think enough shows here to be a warning to other writers who may consider doing business with this publisher.