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An Exchange of Hostages (Jurisdiction, #1)
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An Exchange of Hostages

(Jurisdiction #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A promising young surgeon, Andrej Koscuisko has come, with great reluctance, to study at a military orientation center adrift in black space. Against his will, he will train here to serve as a "Ship's Inquisitor" — a vocation that runs counter to his deepest moral convictions.

During his tenure, Andrej will earn the devotion of his personal slave. He will gain the grudging
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Avon Books (first published 1997)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  445 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Jan 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
I don't know where to begin with what I found wrong with this book. I think one of the biggest reasons this book bothers me is that the author spent a lot of time exploring the torture itself - the victims' pain, the implements used, and details of the injuries without sufficiently exploring the psychological and emotional impact of torture on the victims and the perpetrator. Sure, Kosciusko has nightmares and assuages his guilt feelings by drinking, but it wasn't enough to convince me that he w ...more
Jamie Collins
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A strange book that repels and fascinates at the same time. It's a character study thinly disguised as a science fiction novel. The author has created an entire universe for the sole purpose of placing her protagonist in a very specific, emotionally charged situation. She wanted a hero who tortures (and enjoys it) with one hand and succors (with sincerity and kindness) with the other. The plot is very contrived and the book feels a lot like S/M erotica. Although the single actual sex scene is a ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: what-sf
I am almost ashamed to even admit I read this book let alone enjoyed it. It was uncomfortable and disturbing and yet strangely compelling. I'm an extremely nonviolent person so perhaps this speaks to something deep inside my own psyche. I could not in any way relate to the "hero" of the story and yet I found it fascinating. I don't recommend the book to anyone, I'm not sure I even approve and yet it's *very* well written. I think most people either loved or hated it. I admit I feel both. I have ...more
4.5 stars. A brilliant, but deeply disturbing novel (first of the Jurisdiction series). Excellent writing, great characters and good world-building. Hard to beleive this is a first novel. Highly Recommended.

Nominee: Phillip K. Dick Award for Best Novel (1998)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best First Novel (1998)
Dec 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
I don't recommend this book to anyone. The 'plot' was nothing more than an excuse to spend hundreds of pages detailing the psychological responses of a person forced to commit torture. To save you having to read the hundreds of pages, I'll summarize:

1. Depersonalization -- viewing the subject as merely an object, not a person

2. Focus on process -- trying not to view the subject at all, but to think about the science and physiology of the torture methods

3. Professionalism -- thinking about the en
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reread
I'm going to be honest: I can't tell if this book is actually that good, or if I just got sucked so far into the Id vortex that I can't even see the event horizon. So please take this entire review with about a tablespoon of salt. I stayed up 'til four reading it, and didn't notice.

So, this is a story about a doctor and, he discovers over the course of the story, a sadist, who is forced by his state into becoming a torturer, and how he deals with that. (There is a certain amount of torture, none
Kevin Keith
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Susan R. Matthews has set a new mark in the area of realistic, informed science fiction. Her "Kosciusko" hexology, of which An Exchange of Hostages is the first volume, is a psychologically penetrating body of work in which the tensions in the plots arise from the personal conflicts within, and between, the characters. Her universe is unusually well thought-out along political, cultural, economic, religious, sexual, and military lines, and the political and moral implications of the patterns of

Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
The premise of this book is very intriguing. A young man, Andrej Koscuisko, is bound by familial duty to become Ship's Inquisitor, using his medical skills to learn the fine art of torture. Andrej, however, is a healer, and must deal with the disturbing reality of going against all that he believes. Add to that interpersonal struggles and military politics, and you've got a hell of an idea for a story.

As a work of fiction, this book let me down in parts. The writing style took time to get used t
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reading this right after the Vorkosigan Saga, the parallels between Andrej and Miles are startling. Yet this is so dark, dismal, and distopian. There are some touches of humor, however, particularly with the delightful fish and its unruly ways. The agony of being placed into a completely untenable situation, and the nobility, not to rise above it, but to live with it, even when it gets ten times worse. I find this deeply moving.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Re-read for the first time since it came out. It stuck with me over the years, and began niggling at me recently. Not sure why even now.

Now I have the perspective to see the lead is as Mary Sue as they come. Everyone thinks he's handsome, but he looks in the mirror and sees nothing special. The head of medical is awed by his just-learned surgical skills. The head of training thinks he's beyond exceptional. His bonded servant (basically a slave) becomes utterly devoted to him because he's so ama
Nov 15, 2016 added it
really struggling with the fact the main character calls his penis his fish

ETA: Okay I finished and I have no idea how to rate this. It is very dark and very, very, very iddy. Lots of torture and slaves and impassioned loyalty and the main character is a Torquemada Sue. I can't think of anyone I know who I'd rec this to, except maybe Sam, except there are too many dicks on the dance floor for that. I am, however, reading the next one, which is even darker and more horrifying and very... homoroma
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, space-operas
Quite good, a new author for me, thanks to Baen. I look forward to more!
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. In this futuristic society, Andrej is a brilliant young surgeon who is fulfilling his family duty and serving a term with the space Fleet. He learns to his horror that he is expected to become a torturer, and what's worse, during practice sessions that he reluctantly participates in, he finds a deeply rooted sadism in himself. The story is complex and the characters are wonderfully real. Andrej is given an aide who is basically his slave. And then he finds that a young man he's tortu ...more
Karen Ireland-Phillips
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
This initial entry in the 'Under Jurisdiction' series isnot light reading or for the faint of heart, but really really worth the read. An raw exploration of themes, (some of which are similar to those CJ Cherryh explored in Cyteen/Regenesis, such as institutionalized/governmentally controlled slavery). [return]In an interstellar government where torture and slavery is institutionalized as a part of the justice system, and racism is rampant, a young doctor is pressed into service as a torturer. T ...more
Apr 26, 2011 added it
Shelves: z-do-not-delete
Rumored quote:

"Their charitable forbearance of his fish’s impertinence, which puffed itself up proudly to be so stroked and petted; and their generous permission to let his fish dive deep where it was certain it belonged, granting the greedy thing such new and delightful seas in which to disport itself that, in the end, it wilted of an excess of exercise and had to be returned with gentle hands to where fish were generally to be found."

Read and confirm.
Karin Granström
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding and supremely disturbing book that ought to be mandatory reading in the post 9/11-world. It is a both fascinating and horrible read that will stay with you for decades and clarify your thinking on the difference between 'moral' and 'legal'. Had more people in the US read this book, Guantanamo would not exist.
Jonas Reitz
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
This book is terrible and disturbing. Also thought-provoking. How do you care for good characters that do terrible things? How do live a just life within an unjust system? Someone once said "every lawyer should read this book"...
Mickey Schulz
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book made the rounds of the Seattle BDSM scene when it first came out. Granted, it is not a BDSM book, but the dynamics of torturer and tortured were just spellbinding, and so well written. And it, obviously, resonated with a whole lot of us.
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is dark dismal distopian science fiction. Yet I found it an ultimately uplifting character study. A look at how the human spirit can endure, even when it is put (and puts itself) through hell. Yet the science fiction world-building makes the whole thing delightfully escapist.
Jessie J
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Yes, it can be disturbing, but it is great world building, and it is very character driven. I keep hoping to find the rest of them in my local used book store.
Casey Clubb
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those stories that just stuck with me. Every once in a while I just have to read it again. Dark and absorbing.
Andrej Koscuisko makes Severian look like a piker.
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this one fascintating and disturbing in equal measure. The exploration of an honorable, decent man with sickening (to most of us, anyway) impulses was a difficult read, but well worth it.
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is an unusual book which has, for me, stood the test of time.

Andrej Koscuisko has recently graduated as a highly skilled doctor, but instead of being allowed to practice medicine, his father has commanded that he join the Fleet as a Ship's Medical Officer -- a position which has far less to do with healing than it does with conducting torturous Inquisitions on those accused of crimes against the Jurisdiction.

Andrej is a decent man who hates his assignment, but who takes some comfort in bui
Lisa Feld
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyc
There's some nicely chewy political stuff in this grimdark SF. The interplanetary Jurisdiction government maintains control of the poor and newly-conquered members of its varied populations through the threat of torture: if you're even suspected of a crime, you'll be turned over to an Inquisitor. And Inquisitors must be trained doctors to ensure their victims talk and don't accidentally die too easily. Trainee Andrej Kosciusko discovers he's brilliant at both medicine and torture, which puts him ...more
Mary B. Grove
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
stunning, tormented, deeply touching

This is a very difficult book to read for some obvious reasons - the graphic scenes of torture, the soulless inhumanity of the Jurisdiction government, the horrific plight of the Bonds. And yet, there is so much here that is profoundly human and deeply touching - the mutual respect and tenderness that bind Kosciusko to his security, Kosciusko's courageous struggle to face his darkest desires with absolute honesty, his profound commitment to human life and heal
Geoff Clarke
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
5 stars since I'm 95% sure that this is a frank and dark examination of the end-stage of the military-industrial complex. In space. A book far ahead of its time. Read with the knowledge that torture is not an effective truth-finding tool, and the book becomes that much darker and more timely.

It's so frank and dark that there's 5% of me that worries that this book has no larger moral framework and is just torture porn bound up with an 18th century sensibility about the high character of hereditar
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Second reading (I'm not much for rereading: too many new books) and it's as good I remembered. Good, bad, and in-between people struggling to survive in an evil empire. Matthews' affection and respect for her characters shines through always and makes the grimness bearable. Great depth, consistency, and texture to her world.
That said, you will love or hate this series based on how you feel about our protagonist the unwilling/willing torturer and his relationships with the slaves who love and abe
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not a book for the faint of heart. There are numerous examples of explicit violence within this book yet having said that this book is one that I would recommend to almost anyone. It paints a vivid portrait of a man struggling with the expectations of his family and society to do something which he finds abhorrent. As the novel progresses the reader is allowed to see as the main character struggles to remain true to his morals even after he has found out something disturbing about himsel ...more
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
I know this book was recommended to me, but I can't remember who or when.

The book covers training a doctor to be a torturer in a society where judicial torture is commonly practiced. While not specifically a bondage and discipline book, there's certainly enough here to gladden the heart of any John Norman fan. While the character development is well done and the background was interesting, I won't be reading more in this series, just too close to my personal yuckk! alarm.

Contains graphic torture
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After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, Susan R. Matthews was commisioned into the United States Army, where she was the operations and security officer for a combat support hospital specializing in nuclear, biological, and radiological warfare. Currently working as an auditor for an aerospace manufacturer, Susan lives with her partner in Seattle, Washington.

Other books in the series

Jurisdiction (7 books)
  • Prisoner of Conscience (Jurisdiction #2)
  • Angel of Destruction (Jurisdiction, #3)
  • Hour of Judgment (Jurisdiction, #4)
  • The Devil and Deep Space (Jurisdiction, #5)
  • Warring States (Jurisdiction #6)
  • Blood Enemies