REVIEW: Nicholi’s Vengeance by JA Jaken

Nicholi’s world goes up in flames when soldiers invade his country, leaving chaos in their wake. Captured and enslaved in a foreign land, Nicholi struggles to cope with the nightmare of slavery and adapt to the terrifying and inexplicable world he is thrust into. He draws courage from a steadfast determination to get justice for his murdered family and—he hopes—peace to himself by finding and killing the man responsible for the destruction of his village. Yet, through it all, Nicholi’s greatest enemy might not be foreign powers or enemy soldiers, or even in the self-serving machinations of his fellow slaves, but himself.

Warnings: Noncon, Sex Slavery, Violence, BDSM

Category: M/M

Nicholi’s Vengeance is an erotic hurt/comfort slavefic heavy on the noncon. It follows the story of young Nickie after his village is razed by an invading army and he is taken as a slave by the General of said army. From that point onward Nickie begins to plot out his eventual revenge against the man that killed his family and forced him into servitude, determined to live long enough to eventually kill him. Over the course of the story he is passed around from master to master, experiencing differing degrees of trauma and abuse at the hands of various cruel people. The continued survival of his will however and the eventual escape from bondage dominate the story despite all the trials that he endures, and it ends up being a rather emotional hurt/comfort story.

The author’s writing is very good. I was engaged with the story the whole way through, interested to know what was going to happen to Nickie, and invested in his struggle and his desire for revenge. It’s not as heavily political as a lot of over slavefic novels, barely really touching on the movements of people in power beyond the simple fact that there is a war going on, but it’s there as a backdrop to the more prominent story of Nickie’s struggles and experiences.

Unlike a lot of other books in this genre, there isn’t one consistent Master for Nickie to form a dynamic with over the course of the whole book. To that extent, although there is an endgame romance and there is certainly a lot of sexual content, the book isn’t really a book about a couple; it’s solely a book about Nickie. At first that was a little jarring, not knowing what to expect. The reader is introduced to, and then torn away from, several sexual partners for Nickie over it’s course, and the reader feels a slighter version of the disorientation this causes Nickie himself. This is a bit of a pros and cons situation here, as it’s interesting to get to see several different kinds of characters taking ownership of Nickie, but it also makes it harder to be emotionally invested in any of them individually.

Nickie himself is an emotionally up and down character. The books biggest flaw is that it seems to waffle between two distinct personalities for Nickie which tend to clash. He himself has absolutely no agency in the narrative; none of his own actions come to any fruition and he spends his time reacting to the world and the people around him rather than having any impact on the narrative of his own. Characters are drawn to him because he seems so lost and helpless that they want to protect him, and his safety is consistently the result of other people’s pity. This wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself, if the narrative didn’t very much want us to buy Nickie as a person with the fortitude and strength of will to steel himself and eventually enact vengeance. I found myself constantly wishing he would commit one way or the other; be broken in entirely and truly throw himself at his Master’s mercy, or toughen up and learn how to manipulate and bide his time before slitting someone’s throat in their damn sleep.

The best glimpse of worldbuilding we get in the novel is in the Prince’s Palace, though it’s unclear if the environment there is typical of the nobles of this country, or if the Prince himself is an eccentric deviant. Either way some of the most interesting scenes take place there, and its the most thoroughly constructed and fleshed out setting in the book. The harem of enslaved young men, their daily lives among each other and the sexually devious games that the Prince plays with them are all a joy to read about, and I would dearly like to know more about the Prince. He is possibly the most interesting, and most mysterious character in the story and his decadent lifestyle of sexual exploitation was certainly fascinating.

This book has some absolutely incredible sex scenes. A good deal of slavefic features fairly straightforward fucking, the kink aspect coming more from the situation than from any of the physical play. But this author was truly creative with some of the content and there’s some really really fun BDSM scenes in the book that were breathtaking to read. Pony play, flogging, gangbangs, and even some sweeter, more emotional D/s content rounds out this book as one very steamy novel. Seriously some of the best smut I’ve read in a fair while. And again, the scenes with the Prince were all some of my own personal favourites. I can’t recommend this enough if you’re looking for some really hot content.

Altogether my only real gripe is in Nickie’s inconsistency as a character, and that I would have liked to see more interactions between him and the Prince, but other than that this was an incredibly fun and engaging read, and certainly one that I would recommend to anyone looking for an emotional portrayal of trauma and healing.

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