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If I Pay Thee Not in Gold
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If I Pay Thee Not in Gold

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  6,004 ratings  ·  105 reviews
In the age of the Mazonians women rule through magic - and men suffer what they must. Magical creations only last for a single day (magical food is great for dieting), but that is quite long enough for casting a giant wet blanket (if you're feeling kind) over a would-be rampaging male - or a block of granite (if you're not). No uppity males in Mazonia!

But then as now some

Hardcover, 398 pages
Published July 1st 1993 by Baen Books (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,004 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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MrsJoseph *grouchy*

This pretty bad. On all accounts. The humor is not really there. The world-building is close to non-existent and the attitudes toward women is...disgusting. Its hard to imagine that two best selling novelists managed to put out this dreck and not have mud all over their faces.

Mazonia is a land ruled by women. Only women have magical powers so only women rule. It seems that - because women have the right to rule - almost all the women have turned
Alice M.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I am delighted that the authors could write a book like this and retain their careers.

A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

(For the complete history of this book, or "Piers Anthony detests Mercedes Lackey and Baen Books", click on the spoiler link here (from his website,

(view spoiler)
Happy Medium
Apr 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
The only good thing that came out of my reading of this book was my adolescent realization that mystical sex-change shenanigans are pretty hot. I have forgotten everything else except for the excruciating passage where we find out that Our Heroine keeps her figure trim by eating ephemeral magically generated food.
Deborah Ideiosepius
So, I liked this book while I was reading it, I have re-read it a time or two and I remember the story well, so to me that is a four star rating.

However the novel has problems;

1) The writing style is not consistent throughout the book, a couple of times the style jumps, as though the authors had put it aside for a few months or so and really, I do not much care for this jerky reading sensation.

2) The characterisation is . . . odd. It feels as if once the authors had the characters defined to t
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Alright it's not up there with Lord of the Rings, but I really enjoyed If I Pay Thee Not in Gold. It's an original look on sexism. The society is matriarchal instead of patriarchal. Men are either "husbands" (think a male harem) or servants. The heroine must learn that men can enrich her life as friend, brother, and partner. ...more
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2012
I can't believe I never added this to my books! I originally read this back in high school, and for some reason decided to pick it up again this year while deciding which of my new books to read next. For anyone looking for a very traditional, early 90s fantasy, this is definitely a good book for you.

Xylina is a member of a society where women dominate society through their magical powers of conjuration, while males are regulated to the status of slave. In order to become a full citizen, every w
Aug 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers
Shelves: reviewed
I enjoyed this book most for its quirky plot and bisexual undertones. Although the blurb on the back cover leads you to believe that one thing will happen, in reality something else altogether really happens. I suppose you could say that this is an examination of the social constructions of class and hierarchy, but that might give you the idea that this is a serious and weighty book, which is totally not the case. You could also say that this book explores the artificial construction of gender a ...more
Oct 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
The best part about this book was getting to year it apart week by week with my book club.

This is, by far, the worst book I have read in a very long time. Definitely the worst book I've read this year, which is saying something since I've read 91 books this year so far. Every aspect of the book is terrible. This review will contain spoilers, but I don't feel like cutting them because everyone should know.

First: The Squick. The stuff that might put people off reading this book. Like the fact th
May 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: completed
I got about 150 pages into this humungous waste of time. I really don't give up on a lot of books, but this one was just so poorly written, so maddingly slowly plotted, so carelessly coordinated, as to be a colossal waste of time. I wanted to care about the heroine, but could not. The evil queen idea was beginning to perk up and might eventually have brought some interest to the book-- but her only motivation was that the heroine was supposedly stronger than she in the magic arts.

The motivation
Dec 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, sf, nostalgia
The back of Anthony and Lackey's 1993 book promises that it is "a marvellous fantasy quest that examines the war between the sexes and the ethics of desire", but the only truth to that statement is that there is indeed a fantasy quest.

I first borrowed this book from my local public library when I was twelve or thirteen. This was a time when I was methodically devouring the building's small fantasy collection, borrowing a small pile of books each weekend and re-reading them when I exhausted the l
Brandy Cross
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is sloppy and poorly written, the novel takes an interesting premise and drags it through the dirt on the back of trope after trope, and that criticism is given without ever getting to the later allegations of pay and credit to the writers involved.

My criticisms of this are many; I will not bother to list them all.

- the female character, Xylina, is insipid and spineless, a Mary Sue, a trope built on a trope and packaged as yet another trope, a disgrace to the premise of this novel. Her an
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
The Piers Anthony bad-touch is strong in this one, but I love the title!
Kori May
Oct 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was AWFUL!! Read this with my book club and if it hadn't been for the fun we had ripping it apart every week, I never would have finished it. There's so many things wrong with this one, it's hard to know where to start. The plot was very one dimensional, and disjointed. There was no flow from one point to another, it was almost more like when a little kid tells you about their day.... this happened, and then this happened, and then this, and then this.....etc. The plot wasn't even the ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I chose this book because I am a fan of Mercedes Lackey - I had never read Piers Anthony before. What a shame this is out of print, because it had a great twist on the cliche Amazon warrior story, with a surprisingly tongue-in-cheek tone. Mazonia is a matriarchy and men are slaves. Only women can command magic, and the most powerful of them rules. Xylina lives in poverty and also fear of her upcoming Rite of Passage wherein she must battle a gladiator in the arena. Despite the overwhelming odds, ...more
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I have read several books by both authors, and have enjoyed their fare. I love Ms. Lackey's Elemental Masters series and Mr. Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, and this book is a decent collaborative effort between the two. It's not the best that either of them have written, but is still a fun and decent read, I rate it at 3.5/5 stars (too bad you can't give half-stars when you're asked to choose how many stars)

The premise is entertaining, and this society certainly is interesting, bu
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember loving this when I read it years ago. Many years. Also remember that there was something off about it too.

What I love are the very interesting concepts in love and gender. But the writing is all over the place. Anything that doesn't directly explore those concepts is hurried and often very formulaic.

This time, there was a brief afterword by Piers that shed a lot of light on why its so disjointed and it's interesting to have that context.

I think of this now as still stuck in rewrites b
May 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, scifi
This is one of my all time favorite books. I have read it too many times to count. Piers Anthony / Mercedes Lackey - Good strong female main character, demons, magic, crystals, queens, battles. Good stuff.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book manages to capture the worst of both authors styles. It's pretty terrible. ...more
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, sci-fi
I don't know why I like this book so much. It doesn't seem like it's that good. ...more
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Two of my favorite fantasy authors at the time this was published, this was a wonderful collaboration and I could see both their styles in the layout of the story and it's resolution. ...more
Aug 16, 2009 rated it liked it
lacked a good sex scene or two to be perfect.
Emily Jackson
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good book. Different kind of wold, but neat characters and plot twists!
Cori Beasley
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm in two minds about this book.

On the one hand, if taken as is, and thinking about the era it was written in, its not a bad attempt at exploring ideas about role models, sexual orientation and exploration, and a bit of fantasy thrown in.

On the other hand - and for me this is a big one - the book felt almost like conjoined twins who don't like each other very much.

I admit that I haven't read anything from Piers Anthony for decades - probably since this book was actually first published - but th
Erin Newman
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Rhine
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a guilty pleasure book I will reread over and over again but skim the last half. The first half of the book was great for me. I found myself liking the hero, disliking the slimy villain (she had ridiculous motivation, picture the evil queen from Disney's Snow White only less fun), and absorbed in this crazy 80's/90's fantasy world (I'm willing to over look bad dialogue if the setting is holding my attention). Then the second half comes and they throw it all out the window. Things get wei ...more
Larry Wegman
Nov 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
A fantasy where women have magical powers and men are mostly enslaved, with perverse sexuality and an ENORMOUS plot hole that destroys any hope of a good story.
Maria Park
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Wonderful blend of Piers Anthony's ironic humor and Lackey's world building skills. ...more
L DeLong
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved this book, always a good re-read ...more
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Though he spent the first four years of his life in England, Piers never returned to live in his country of birth after moving to Spain and immigrated to America at age six. After graduating with a B.A. from Goddard College, he married one of his fellow students and and spent fifteen years in an assortment of professions before he began writing fiction full-time.

Piers is a self-proclaimed environm

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