A Brother's Price
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A Brother's Price

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,095 ratings  ·  120 reviews
In a world where males are rarely born, they've become a commodity--traded and sold like property. Jerin Whistler has come of age for marriage and his handsome features have come to the attention of the royal princesses. But such attentions can be dangerous--especially as Jerin uncovers the dark mysteries the royal family is hiding.
Paperback, 310 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Roc
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Lois Bujold
Oct 08, 2013 Lois Bujold rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF and romance readers
Recommended to Lois by: many mentions over the years

This stand-alone book had been tugging at my attention for years; I finally got around to loading it up on my Kindle in advance of an out-of-town trip.

The plot and set-up have been described adequately in other reviews, but briefly, a young man born into a world where the ratio of men to women is about 1:20 has adventures and romantic adventures. This is social science fiction rather than fantasy as such, as the world has no magic. (Though it does have an early 19th-Century tech level.)

What the...more
Ian Osmond
A virtuous, virginal protagonist -- pure and chaste, but plucky. From a decent and honorable family. But when they rescue a soldier attacked on their land, it turns out the soldier is royal! And the rogueish heir to the throne seduces the poor virginal protagonist! But they fall in love! Can the heir to the throne marry someone as lowborn as this -- barely even landed gentry, even if beautiful, kind, and plucky. And what of the stolen cannons? Is there a traitor somewhere planning revolution?

I a...more
The conceit of this book, as many reviewers have mentioned, is that male children are rare in this world, which is a blend of a fantasy kingdom and the American wild west. If our kind-hearted, sweet-natured hero were female, I'd no doubt have left this one on the shelf.

But the conceit works, and Spencer's worldbuilding is wonderful. There are so many intriguing, half-explored ideas here that I do hope this is only the first book in this universe. (What becomes of sisters ejected from their famil...more
A fantasy whose only interesting feature is the bit of gender reversal it's got going on. Jerin lives in a world where men are extremely rare, and thus regarded as very precious, sold for high prices, and generally married off to an entire family of sisters. They're also not really allowed to do anything, lest it upset their delicate sensibilities; it's the women who get to go out there and perform acts of daring-do and have fun storming the castle and whatnot. It's an interesting set-up.

Margaret Sankey
In a world...where men are a tiny fraction of the population, they've become contested possessions of women, who have evolved religious and political structures in which they marry as groups of sisters and carefully protect any existing brothers from husband raiders and any crazy ideas like learning to read. The setting is about mid 19th-century tech, so the sisters can be gunslingers and a steamboat can explode, and the societal structure leads to a sinister plot to overthrow the Queen Mothers...more
This book is the most awesome book ever! Seriously. It was written just for me. I don't know how I missed not reading it sooner. LibraryThing suggested it as a 'read alike' based on the limited amount of data I've put in there. I am not a big fan of LibraryThing's read-alike feature, even if it does want me to read every CLAMP manga volume ever. (I don't even object to doing that.)

And I see this book was on the Tiptree list. But it didn't win! If I was on the jury that year, it would've totally...more
(Re-posted from http://theturnedbrain.blogspot.com)

Do you know what I hate? When you’re recommending a book to someone, or maybe you’re just telling them what the book you’re currently reading is about, and as soon as you say it’s science fiction or fantasy you get the look. The ‘oh, you like reading that stuff? Mine is a more refined taste.’ Seriously, I hate it. Half the time these people who disregard speculative fiction so readily barely read at all, or they only read what their favourite fa...more
I love most of Wen Spencer's sci-fi books. They're brilliant and unique. That's why I am not sure what to make of this book of hers.

It's clearly... an attempt to turn gender on its head. But what her goal in doing so is highly questionable. If she couldn't be clear as to what the goal was, perhaps filling the book with as many sexist stereo-types as possible, than attributing them to *women*-as-oppressors rather than the oppressed class, was something she should have re-thought. Normally I appr...more
Siew Ee
Major role reversal between men and women in this fictional dystopian country called Australia. Reason: men are scarce, at a pathetic ratio of 1:20 or thereabouts. Because of the rarity of the male species, they are closeted and much protected; and women are the ones who are the breadwinners, and they do all the fighting and other macho stuff. The poor men are treated like merchandise, with the brothers in a household either traded or sold off as husbands for other families. But as they are expe...more
Janice (Janicu)
All through the book I was marvelling at the world created by Wen Spencer. In a wild west culture, women outnumber men by something like 20 to 1. Groups of sisters will become wives to a single husband, who is protected and coddled away from society, and has domestic duties: cooking, cleaning and raising the children! The main character (Jerin Whistler) is one such male, who spends a lot of time blushing prettily (hah). His role is like that of a virgin bride in a historical romance, but much li...more
Kind of like if The Handmaid's Tale were a romantic comedy.


Sorry, I had to whack myself in the face with the keyboard several times to reset my noggin after typing that.

Right, so, it's basically "what if The Patriarchy(tm) was The Matriarchy!?" which veers wildly between "See, see how gender oppression is unfair?" and "Lol, schadenfreude!" which works as comedy only on the assumption that the oppression depicted against men is totally implausible in any real world.

Going solely on the blurb, one could be forgiven for suspecting Wen Spencer's A Brother's Price to be a badly written romance. This is far from the case. In fact, while it features a bethrothal and a wedding, it is barely a romance at all. This is a tale of society and manners - tipped upside down, turned inside out and shaken firmly just for good measure.

Spencer has taken a relatively simple idea - what if, in a society just becoming industrialised, women seriously outnumbered men? What kind o...more
A curious book. On the one hand, a light and fluffy romance in a world whose gender reversals had me giggling. On the other hand . . . wow, this world is a dark place. Because the hero lives a charmed life and the story is determined to be the happily-ever-after kind, that darkness is always pushed off the edges, but it accumulates nonetheless. I'm left a little confused as to what I'm supposed to take away here. This is a book that's begging for a deconstructing sequel.

Or maybe I'm overthinking...more
People seem to feel strongly about this book, one way or the other, but honestly all I could say about it was "ehhh."

The setting is something like late 1800s old west, with gender reversal and polygamy.
Only a few men are born, so lots of women marry one man in the hope that a few of the 10, 20 kids turn out to be male.
Since they aren't born often, they're protected to the point of -seemingly- turning most of them fairly spineless.

I have to say, it makes a certain amount of sense, and for somet...more
Text Addict
A person's favorite books can be - are - intensely personal. A favorite book may not have the most amazing writing or worldbuilding or plot or characters, and yet be just the right book for certain readers. For such a book and such a reader, a review is rather pointless. Which is why I haven't gotten around to writing a review of this book until now, even though I usually re-read it a couple of times a year.

Consider, for example, the worldbuilding here: it's muddy. Is this another planet? A pos...more
I first found this book the summer of 2005. I remember wanting a new author who wouldn't get me involved in a new series. I just wanted a good, clean, quick read. And there it was, sitting on the new reads shelf of Barnes and Noble.
I was lucky. A Brother's Price is one of the few books Wen Spencer wrote which was not part of a series. I ended up buying up her other two series, the Tainted series and the Tinker series, before the end of summer.
I love science fiction with sociological issues. In A...more
Michael Havens
I can't tell if Ms. Spencer's novel is a serious feminist treatment on gender, or simply adolescent fantasy. Perhaps delving too much into John Norman, except from a feminist side, perhaps? Everything seems to suggest America around the nineteenth century, except of course, the suggestion that this is Science Fiction. I would like to understand how roles of males and females reversed, why there is a shortage of men, and why are men so effeminate in the novel. Science Fiction is fine, but give me...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
N.K. Jemisin
Reread this recently. I'd enjoyed it before, but on this reread I realized what a nifty little satire of gender roles and gendered literature -- in this case, Regency romances -- it is. It goes a bit deeper than role reversal because of the worldbuilding premise: there's a legitimate reason that women run this world, and men are treated as chattel. (That worldbuilding premise is so intriguing that I keep checking Spencer's site, hoping she'll decide to revisit this world in the future. I can't h...more
The premise for this book is that women rule the world and there are very few men - about one for every ten women. They are shared as communal husbands between sisters, in a sort of polygamist arrangement. I say "sort of" because this book (thankfully) doesn't go the route of being over the top in switching gender roles, playing with them to a point, but stopping where it might get ridiculous.

It's an easy, fast-paced read with plenty of delightful moments. The characters are likable without bein...more
As someone who rarely reads, I very much enjoyed this book. It's a real breath of fresh air to see a book with a male damsel in distress rescued by a dashing and strong woman. The story was very easy to follow, and the romance was nice and not overly gratuitous. My only problem with this book was that it was much too short. This is a book with quite a large cast of interesting characters and a world that's very easy to get sucked into, but not enough time to savor it all. The ending is just too...more
What can I say about this book? It takes the traditional ideas of masculine and feminine roles and turns them completely and convincingly on their heads. In a world where there are few males, women are the dominant sex, trained for commerce, jobs, espionage and warfare. Matriarchies hold sway and the precious males in families are bought and sold mainly on the prospect of whether they can father healthy sons. Virginity in unwed men is highly prized; a man suspected of dallying with anybody befor...more
Wonderful. I made the mistake of starting this book in the evening. My husband took it away from me at one in the morning with the reminder that I had to watch children the next day. Unfortunately, I was up later because I couldn't sleep, this book was just stuck in my head. It's a good one and I'm going to look up more by this authour. Also, while the writing itself isn't funny, I can see what Lois McMaster Bujold means about the situations being amusing.
Dec 06, 2013 Shara marked it as dnf
Shelves: no-longer-own
When I put this aside originally, I used the excuse that I had my Hugo reading to focus on, and that was true. But even while reading, I found myself utterly disengaged and not connecting with the characters. While the "battle of the sexes" reversal was interesting on paper, seeing it in practice didn't resonate with me, and I've got no interest in coming back to it. Maybe later, if the right mood hits me, but for now, this is DNF.
Ian Villmore
Written in the style of those horrible romance novels by Nora Roberts and others, what keeps you interested is the unique setting. In an alternate Earth, there are between 8 and 10 women for every one man. As such, men are kept like women in the days of old - helpless, pampered, and merely a means to an end. Legally, men are property and Spencer amplifies the strangeness by having the men wear gowns and their hair long and in ribbons. The setting is mid 19th century with many Western themes, but...more
one of those books you stay up half the night reading, but wonder why in the morning.
This book was hard-going for me. I felt as though there could have been a lot more to the plot than there was. The premise was interesting, but I felt more could have been explored than there was. It was also rather confusing to read, as the names/titles of people were given without any explanation, which meant you, the reader, had to work out who was who.

(view spoiler)...more
I am at loss, without words on how to describe the effect this book had on me.
It is written in the stile of the Romance novels, but it is set in a completely different earth. The contrast between a different world with its strange rules and the storyline of a romance is fascinating.
It underlines how much a role is embedded in our culture. I would love for this book to be a mandatory school read for all the countries (mine included) where they think that being a male or female comes with a pack...more
Michelle [Helen Geek]
Feb 13, 2012 Michelle [Helen Geek] marked it as to-read
nook price $8 on 02/13/2012
Good but..... This book excelled in world creation. It was so interesting to read about a world where there are very little men born and due to this women run everything and men are the most valuable thing a family can possess. It turned the world we know upside down, and it was so interesting to see a world where men were the ones who were protected and hidden, and coddled, and who must remain pure...because their biggest value is when they are traded or sold to another family in place of money...more
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John W. Campbell Award Winner Wen Spencer resides in paradise in Hilo, Hawaii with two volcanoes overlooking her home. Spencer says that she often wakes up and exclaims "Oh my god, I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific!" This, says Spencer, is a far cry from her twenty years of living in land-locked Pittsburgh.

According to Spencer, she lives with "my Dali Llama-like husband, my autistic...more
More about Wen Spencer...
Tinker (Elfhome, #1) Wolf Who Rules (Elfhome, #2) Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon, #1) Elfhome (Elfhome, #3) Eight Million Gods

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