Cari Silverwood does some amazing world building. If you read any of her series, you are going to find a world that is detailed, intricate, and nuanced. All of these things come together to create worlds that I love to find myself in time and again. Today, we get to visit Aerthe again in Branded Possession, the third book in her Machinery of Desire series. So, background on the Machinery of Desire world.
There are three groups of people who live on Aerthe, the Mekkers, the Scavs, and the Grounders.
The Mekkers are the remnants of invaders from space who attacked Aerthe. Aerthe hates the Mekkers and will chase them off the face of the planet if they stay in any one place for too long. So, they live in ginormous landships and those ships create Swathes. They travel across the face of Aerthe, harvesting and mining as they go. There are several Swathes, including the Royal Swathe, which is the one we’re concerned about today. The Mekkers have lost the knack of creating the technology that they had and what tech they do have is slowly falling apart.
The Scavs are nomads and scavengers. They travel Aerthe, searching through the ruins of ancient cities to find things that they can use. They also raid Grounder villages so that they can take slaves that they may sell to the Mekkers or keep for themselves. There is some trade between the Scavs and Mekkers and the Grounders and Scavs.
The Grounders are the settled people on Aerthe. They have their own villages and try not to bother anyone, doesn’t always work, the Scavs will occasionally raid villages or caravans, but they try. They will trade with Mekkers and Scavs. We really don’t see a lot about Grounders in any of the books.
Humans exist on Aerthe as slaves. They were brought to Aerthe through portals. As they came through the portal, their hair and nails became all polished and shiny, making it impossible to disguise who they are. The Mekkers are right happy to have the humans for a couple of reasons. One is that they are fantastic fucks. The other is that Mekkers need something called Factor H. The best source comes from human blood, so all human slaves (as far as we know), have a collar that has a port that goes down into their bodies so that they can bleed whenever that port is opened. Some people like to take the blood straight from the source, others wait until it’s been processed and the Factor H has been concentrated.
Aerthe is a magical, mystical place. It’s somewhere just south of sentient, but very much north of completely lifeless. It’s very aware and doesn’t like Mekkers because they raided the planet and aren’t natives. But, Aerthe also has its own agenda, and we aren’t all that sure what it’s up to. I’m sure that Cari will clue us in further.
Now that we’ve gotten all the way through that background, let’s get into Branded. Gio is a human. She’s the one who has been opening portals that have been bringing the humans to Aerthe. She’s been trying to reverse engineer the process so that she can send the humans home. On her first try, Gio lost the tips of some of her fingers. But, she persevered and was able to send Sawyer and his Grounder lover back to Earth. She also managed to kill Drette, who was her owner during the Scav attack in the last book. Gio wasn’t able to get away and was taken prisoner and was tortured and then sent to a blood snack room to die. In those rooms, Mekkers go crazy and drain the slaves while fucking them. Gio has tied a tourniquet around her arm to keep the drug that the Mekkers injected her with away from the rest of her system because she sees that it turns the women into very horny, very mindless slaves. Just before she’s going to get taken, in bursts a man in a coat and hood. The mystery man shoots everyone there, cuts off the tourniquet and takes Gio away.
Ryke is the King’s Own Lawgiver. He’s a phantom. There aren’t a whole lot of people who are sure that he exists, and they are mostly the people who have been his “clients” or the people in charge of him. Ryke is only answerable to the King, but he gets the King’s orders through the King’s advisor, Gyle. Ryke is the person who gets the answers from the people who don’t want to give them. He does all kinds of things to get those answers, including using sex. He really, really likes breaking women. He doesn’t generally fuck them, but he uses his fuckspears, which yeah, are exactly what they sound like. So, when his newest client is Gio, and the goal is to find out the secret of making portals, he’s got all kinds of dark, dirty, obscene, filthy, and darkly delightful things to do to her body. And he’s going to start with medicine that will drive her out of her mind with desire and a large fuckspear.
OK, it’s that time. Cari’s world is a slaveworld, which means there’s a lot of noncon/dubcon and discipline going on. And because it’s Cari, there are some really imaginative sex scenes. Really imaginative. They are also very intense. If you are a fan of the lighter side of things, then this is probably not the best book for you. Not only are we getting all that lovely sex going on, we’re also learning a lot more about the Mekkers and Aerthe. We get to learn more about Aerthe’s agenda, but not a whole lot, just enough to figure out that there is one. When it comes to the Mekkers, we get a good look at their society, which isn’t anything we’ve seen in the other books. Mekkers are divided into those who are Above Deck and those who are Underdeckers, which is where Ryke comes from. Ryke has a brother named Badh. Now, if you’ve ever looked at my Goodreads, you’ll notice that Badh is my user name there, and it’s the name on an account I keep for when I end up in FB jail. Cari decided that she needed to use it. I think I made her mad at one point. Well, not really mad, I hope. And so, Ryke’s brother got his name. I’m so glad I could help Cari. This book also had a lot of changes going on, changes which are going to affect all the people on Aerthe and can really upset the status quo. It’s going to be really interesting to see in the next book, Exquisite Possession, which will also be the last book.
I know that I’ve had a whole lot to say about this one and that it’s a lot longer than many of my other reviews, but trust me, I’ve barely touched on the book or even the world.
The whole religious aspect around Ryke is fascinating. I really enjoyed reading about that. You don’t often get to read books with the beginnings of a religion going on, so that’s fascinating to watch.
It’s also really interesting to watch Ryke’s evolution in general and how it comes to Gio. Gio has her own evolution, but I don’t think her changes are quite as drastic as Ryke’s are. And I don’t know that Ryke’s are an evolution as much as they are a de-evolution, bringing him back to where he was before he went Above. But, there’s the fact that he embraces things that he never really did before, so maybe it’s a combo of both.
I can’t wait to see the next book. I have questions and I need them answered and I know that it isn’t going to happen until the next one comes out. I just hope it’s soon. Of course, it’s not going to happen until after we get monster cock story from Cari, but since I’m excited to read that story, I’ll be happy(ish) to wait.
So, go check out all these stories, you won’t be sorry. If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend a binge read. Happy reading!