An Oath of Bondage
|Title:||Oath of Bondage|
|Publisher:||Pon Farr Press|
|Cover Artist(s):||Jackie Zoost|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS, K/S|
|External Links:||Online Flyer|
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From an ad in Datazine #56: "When Kirk is taken captive by a slave-culture, he is forced to sear an oath of bondage -- and Spock, amnesiac and injured, may be compelled to honor that oath if they ever see one another again."
From Media Monitor: "A Kirk/Spock novel... detailing the oath Kirk must sear to an alien slaver in order to protect Spock and McCoy when it seems that rescue may never come."
From the Editorial
In your hand, you are holding AN OATH OF BONDAGE - a K/S novel by Sharon Pillsbury. You've enjoyed Sharon's work in a variety of zines, including NAKED TIMES, OFF DUTY, CHARISMA and a host of others. Now, we hope you'll enjoy her first novella! I have found AN OATH OF BONDAGE to be an exceptional character study of Kirk, dealing with his turmoil when he is taken captive on a hostile alien world, and how he must cope with the oath he is forced to swear. This is a novella which, admittedly, may not be for everyone due to its emotional intensity and its poignant treatment of existence in an inhospitable environment. Perhaps because of those things, I personally feel that AN OATH OF BONDAGE is Sharon's best work to date, and that it represents K/S in a realistic manner - a manner where personal sacrifice is often necessary, and where things are seldom as they seem.
A small sampling of the art.
Reactions and Reviews
AN OATH OF BONDAGE is advertised as being Sharon Pillsbury's first novella, and if that's the case, then I'm anxious to see what lies ahead for this author. I've read and enjoyed her gen work in other zines, as well as her K/S material, so it was a a real treat to learn that OATH was being done as a one-shot. Normally I tend to shy away from Kirk-slave stories like the plague, but there was something in the flyer that really intrigued me about this one - could have been that fantastic illo of Kirk holding a knife to his own throat! The plot of OATH deals with Kirk, Spock and McCoy being stranded on a planet after their shuttle crashes. Spock, amnesiac and injured, ends up with what I call "the good guys", while Kirk is immediately taken captive by "the bad guys". Even though the plot of this novel is over-worked in fandom, Ms. Pillsbury brings new elements to that plot, giving OATH a life of its own. The title comes from a pledge Kirk is compelled to swear to his captor - an oath stating that he will remain a passive slave in exchange for the safety and well-being of Spock and McCoy. Of course, when Spock regains his memory, in a violent and upsetting scene, he will have none of this, and he realizes he must "fight" to regain Kirk back at his side. There are lots of cliches in this novella, but there are also plenty of new and interesting things to counter-balance that minor flaw. I particularly enjoyed seeing the characters struggle in a believable manner to overcome the hardships that befell them, and even though there is some violence and sadness in this work, it too is balanced by love and tenderness. I recommend AN OATH OF BONDAGE especially to anyone who enjoys a story with lots of conflict and twists and turns, but not to anyone who is unduly squeamish about violence. There is nothing in this novel, violence-wise, that was not in the first few issues of NAKED TIMES, but since the current trend is toward more "gentle" K/S, this novella is hard-hitting and, in some cases, shocking. But it's well worth that shock in my opinion, and I hope you'll give this fine work a chance. The illustrations, including covers, are by Jackie Zoost. The majority are uninspiring, but there are a couple here that are among Jackie's best work to date, particularly the Kirk w/knife illo that appeared on the flyer, and again in the latter part of the novella itself. All in all, AN OATH OF BONDAGE is well worth the price, since it is good strong K/S in the end. You might find some anguish and sorrow getting to that end, but that's what life is all about, I think. The flaws are minor and the plus points are major. 
This is a rape/slavery and healing novel. It is done with restraint and Kirk's motivations for complying with slavery (in order to save his crew members from the same fate) are true to character. Too many Kirk-enslaved stories show Kirk acquiescing too readily to slavery. Some of the A/U Kirk-enslaved stories could be entitled STARSHIP CAPTAINS OF GOR: Spock is the master and he's so SEXY, even when he is raping and beating the hell out of Kirk—and of course Kirk learns he really loves it. I don't mind slave stories at all, and I've written a couple of them. But I just can't see anyone, especially Kirk, learning to love it, although one might adjust to it under extreme conditions. Captain Kirk, several times, threatens to blow up the ENTERPRISE (he actually does it in the third movie) rather than be captured. Anyway, in OATH, this is really Captain Kirk, adjusting under extreme conditions. Kirk's master (no, it is NOT Spock) is shown to be three-dimensional, rather than Absolutely Evil, in a cardboard way. Instead of being rescued, the master gives Kirk his freedom. The rest of the zine is Spock and McCoy as sexual trauma recovery specialists, and the scenes are effective. Kirk feels guilty about his acquiescence, which is common among survivors. The scene where he confronts his former master and tells him directly how abusive the whole situation had been was effective; usually in these sorts of stories either the master gets killed or s/he simply gets left behind. One other good thing: Kirk does NOT have his trauma, wiped out by one sex scene. 
I must say that I thought this was a very good fanzine! I liked it a lot. My favorite part of this fanzine was when James Kirk finally faces his terrors. He, to the amazement of Spock, tries to make Spock leave him, thinking that Spock would be happier with a whole man, not one so mixed up. He was wrong. Spock chose his captain, but not before having to really think about their relationship. Was he, Spock, ready to accept only what Kirk could give to him and not force to give more? He was. I also liked Kirk's and Spock's first sexual encounter together; how Kirk didn't know how to respond to his friend without hurting him, knowing that Spock would regret what he'd done as soon as he received his memory back, which was true. The encounter was very well written. The only thing I didn't care for in the fanzine is how it didn't show more of what Jarann did to Kirk. We know that Kirk was only used as a sexual object, but not really anything else. In the 4 months that the two spent together, they were bound to share some adventures, so why not show something of their life together? I really like Sharon Pillsbury's writing a lot. When I read a new fanzine I always see if she has written anything in it. If so, then I am positive that I will like that story! 
I didn't like it. There were too many missing areas. For example, it jumps from having Kirk taken by the villain to weeks afterwards. What happened in the interim? What did Kirk feel when he woke up and realized where he was and why he was there? What did he feel after the first time he was raped? Why didn't the villain stay a villain? The "bad guy" turned out to be a whimp. I don't understand the talk of "love", since this guy took Kirk against his will and kept him against his will. He raped our captain over and over. Love? No way. 
This may be the least ambitious and least original of the Sharon Pillsbury novels that I've read, but I also thought it was the best written of the three. It is admittedly easier to tell a formula story like this one. Kirk is enslaved, and he is eventually freed as in many other novels and stories, but in this novel the familiar tale is flawlessly told. The characterization is also excellent. Sharon's depiction of Kirk's rape recovery process was thorough. For a change I have no complaints about McCoy's conduct. In OATH OF BONDAGE McCoy comments that slugging the man who had enslaved and raped him would have been cathartic for Kirk. What a contrast to McCoy's emphasis on forgiveness in ALEXI! I wonder if Sharon might not have been unconsciously thinking of her novels as a single progressive case of rape recovery. It that were true, it would make sense for McCoy to be counseling anger if the first novel and forgiveness in the last of the three. It is appropriate to discuss forgiveness of the rapist in a later stage of recovery processes, and only in OATH OF BONDAGE was the process handled to ray satisfaction. I also thought Sharon did a fine job in her characterization of Jarann, the enslaver. He is portrayed as neither hero nor villain. I know that many fans find it difficult to deal with this kind of character ambivalence, but I personally prefer characters of this sort. When he speaks of his great respect for Kirk, and Kirk rebukes him for not having treated him with respect, Jarann replies in a puzzled tone, "How else is a slave to be treated?" This shows that he is a prisoner of his cultural attitudes. Even Gethara, Jarann's "benevolent" brother, automatically assumed that Kirk had been Spock's slave before he had been Jarann's. This is a realistic portrayal of the way people in a slaveholding culture think. I now consider OATH OF BONDAGE to be the best treatment of slave formula in K/S. 
Kirk, McCoy and Spock, returning from shore leave crash with their shuttle on a planet. Spock is injured and unconscious. Some locals, who take Kirk and McCoy and leave Spock behind, find them. The leader, Jarann sells McCoy and keeps Kirk as a pleasure slave. Spock is found by Jarann's brother and brought to his castle. There he recovers but he has lost his memory. To keep Kirk quiet he is drugged and chained. When Jarann visit his brother, Spock sees Kirk again and thinking that Kirk is his slave he demands him back. But Jarann doesn't want to loose Kirk and leaves at night.
Spock goes after them and releases Kirk and they return to the castle and the protection of Jorann's brother. There Spock claims his slave and gives in to his desire. When Spock takes Kirk he melds with him and is terrified when he discovers who he is and what he has done. He retreats behind his Vulcan wall. Later, they go looking for McCoy, but before they can find him, Spock is taken prisoner by Jarann. Kirk makes a deal with Jarann: when Jarann lets Spock go and tells where McCoy is, then Kirk will give his 'Oath of Bondage' to stay with Jarann and not try to escape. Spock finds McCoy and not knowing what to do else they go to the castle of Jorann's brother to get help for Kirk. In the meantime Kirk lives a life of humiliation and despair. Because he has given his word he cannot leave and has to stay with Jarann and his depression grows. Jarann in the meantime is in love with his slave and makes love with him wherever and whenever he can.After a battle Jarann and Kirk are both severely injured. Jarann, thinking he will die, releases Kirk of his Oath. Both are brought to the castle of Jarann's brother. Kirk recovers physically but has a big depression and is full of self-loath fearing that he never can captain a starship again. With the help of Spock and McCoy he finally manages to accept what has happened to him and can accept Spock's love then too. An interesting story, nice to read, and well written. Although sometimes there are things happen too occasionally, what just doesn't fit in the story. So as that the medikit and scanner of McCoy are accidentally found by Jarann's little niece who tells it just in time to save Kirk's life. Kirk rejects Spock's love fervently in the beginning, and then too suddenly he accepts it and all problems seems solved. Nevertheless, I liked the story. It is, as said in the foreword, a nice character- study of our captain.