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The four books of the Shuki series are available as ebooks and as paperbacks. 'Not a Man' is the first of the Shuki Series, followed by 'The King's Favourite.' These are quite separate stories, and can be read as stand-alone books. However, you will enjoy the third in the series, 'To Love and To Protect,' more if you have read at least one of the others. The fourth in the series is a little different, and covers Shuki's mature years, and even ranges forward a few decades. This can be read as a stand-alone book. There is no 'adult' material in this one, though there is in the earlier novels, especially the first.
The six Penwinnard Stories are about the boys of Penwinnard Boys' Home - their spirit, their occasional mischief, and their aspirations. The final one, 'Price of Survival,' will be more widely available shortly. This one is about Bob, whom we first met in 'Angel No More.'
These books are also available as paperbacks.
on March 28, 2013 :
I have not cried so much since I last saw "Champ" in 80s. This is by far the most memorable novel I have read in years.
Beautifully written, gripping and original, this is a novel to stand out in any book store.
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)
on Nov. 12, 2012 :
A well written story, set in a very creatively imagined, complex world, a good plot and a very memorable character. Shukis differences and difficulties are handled sensitively, every character in the book is written with care. The descriptions of the foreign countries' landscape are beautiful and the description of and explanation for its customs are intruiging and realistic.
I also bought the sequel "The King's Favourite" and loved it as well as this book. The writing and editing appeared to have been improved even more than in this first book.
Would recommend this story to anyone who is interested in good writing, good character development, foreign countries and the careful and creative handling of sensitive subjects.
One of my most favourite stories that leaves a lasting impression. Absolutely worth the purchase.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on Sep. 09, 2012 :
This is a very powerful story made all the more poignant and chilling by the author’s non-judgemental telling of it. It's high quality writing and the author has obviously researched the subject matter thoroughly. Her characters are complex and real, there's nothing stereotyped about them. An oustanding piece of work about a difficult and harrowing subject matter.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Sep. 08, 2012 :
Raw, brutal, shocking. Warm, compassionate, tender. All these things and more. Rarely have I gone through so many different emotions reading one book. This is a very long and incredibly detailed story with a huge cast, yet I was never confused or wondering who each character was – nor was I bored, or bogged down with too much information. Instead the author weaves a rich tapestry, pulling threads from a middle-eastern culture that at times seems archaic and extreme to 20th century Oxford University and back again, showing you layer upon layer of depth as slum boy Shuki realises his good looks can be both blessing and curse.
What is fascinating is how the author writes with such authority about another culture. Whether this is pure research or she has lived this life, I don’t know – but it sounds so authentic and believable. While the brutalities of Shuki’s masters are shocking, there are moments of real tenderness and love, and the family bond is strong and close. They share everything – including Shuki. And how far can you go, before love and sex become inextricably entwined?
There’s a lot of sex in this book. And not all of it is good sex, so don’t read this if you are easily offended by graphic descriptions of such things. But I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the different standards by which other cultures live – even today. Shuki’s story could well be real.
One of the best books I have read in a long, long time.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on July 04, 2012 :
Outstanding for its originality and depth, M.A. McRae’s Not a Man is an amazing work that will transport you to a foreign world. It will let you experience a lifestyle and culture that is most likely vastly different from any with which you are familiar.
This is not a story for the faint-hearted. If you read to escape to a fantasy world where heroes are gallant, heroines are beautiful and spoiled, and endings are always happy, you may not enjoy it. If you are reluctant to face the reality of man’s inhumanity to man, or to recognize that some people enjoy sex in a way that others regard as perverted, it may shock and distress. If you struggle to recognize that those whose beliefs, moral standards and lifestyles many in our civilization abhor are, nevertheless, real people capable of kindness, compassion and love, it may enlighten you, but also disturb you.
I began reading Not a Man feeling more than a little uncomfortable. I expected to be repulsed by the story of Shuki, a boy taken from the slums and castrated before his tenth birthday. The idea of reading about men taking bed-boys and having anal sex didn’t appeal. I knew it happened, but I preferred not to be confronted with it. But I promised the author I would read it, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the story fascinating and educational, as well as enjoyable.
I recognized immediately I began reading that M.A. McRae was no ordinary writer. She has the ability to draw the reader into the story – to bring her characters and settings to life in the readers’ mind. She has a knack of portraying characters a reader may want to despise for their unpalatable behaviour in a way that compels you to understand and forgive their foibles and admire their better qualities. The people she describes are a product of their culture. We may not approve of aspects of their lifestyle, but we are drawn to understand how they came to be what they are and to appreciate and applaud their efforts to be empathetic and charitable.
I wanted to hate Hassanel: a man who could arrange the castration of a child for his sexual pleasure. I wanted to find him vile and repulsive in every way. But I got to know a man for whom this conduct was an acceptable part of the culture in which he had been raised and educated, but who had the capacity to genuinely care for Shuki and want to protect him.
Shuki found his way into my heart. The little boy from the slums who so feared a return to abject poverty that he would agree to an operation he feared, believing he could arrange his escape before it was done, used his charm and guile to secure his own future and to help his suffering family. When he was brutally raped and his best friend—who came to his aid—was killed, I confess I cried. It amazes me now to realize that I liked and admired Ben, and Elei too. These were men who used a boy for sex, so it astonishes me that I could find them anything but repulsive in the extreme. But M.A. McRae introduced me to human beings – good, kind, caring people who succumbed to temptation to perform acts, in private, that gave them pleasure and that certain cultures do not regard as abhorrent.
This book is confronting, but M.A. McRae handles sex scenes tactfully and with respect for readers. Her characters grow and learn, gradually realizing the illogical cruelty of customs such as casting women out as punishment for being victims of a man’s criminal act and the dreadful long-term consequences of castration. We experience the pain and suffering of a eunuch. We share his fears. We grieve with him over his inability to experience sexual pleasure and to anticipate marriage and fatherhood. At the same time, however, we are shown the unique beauty and gentleness that results from castration before puberty. We are helped to recognize the compelling attraction some men feel to a beautiful eunuch. Their behaviour may disturb us, but we are unable to resist the urge to sympathize.
Not a Man is not light reading. It’s a heavy-weight and gut-wrenching tale that will alter your perspective on sensitive issues and your view of the culture and lifestyle it describes.
This is an impressive and memorable work by an author with impressive talent, and one I recommend to readers with confidence that it may shock, but it will never disappoint.
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)