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High Couch of Silistra

(Silistra #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Long ago, the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that, centuries later, the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility--the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children, and their social order is based on fertility and sexual prowess. On a planet ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 28th 1980 by Bantam Books (first published January 1st 1977)
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3.71  · 
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 ·  333 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Althea Ann
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A re-read.

I first read this book because my mom checked it out of the library for me. She knew I liked fantasy, and came home with a random selection of paperbacks... this was one of them. I was probably eleven or twelve? My mom was not a fan of 'trashy' books, and I read this with big eyes, hoping that she didn't decide to peek inside... Nope, she never did, and I got all the sequels out of the library later, too. She had absolutely no idea what she'd provided me with.

My five-star rating is tak
Andrew Weston
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To truly appreciate the epic scale that encompasses The High Couch of Silistra, you need to understand the complexity and profundity of thought Janet Morris incorporated into the historical foundation that forms Silistran society.
I’ll summarize what you need to know here:
Thousands of years before our story takes place, Silistra faced catastrophe, a catastrophe so severe that all life would have been wiped out were it not for the prudence and tenacity of a special group of people, the Day Keepers
A.L. Butcher
So where to start? As one would expect from Janet Morris there is a lot more to this story than a simple science fiction tale. Firstly the protagonist is a woman, and a strong one at that. Estri is not your screaming maiden waiting to be rescued. She’s a feisty woman, who knows her worth, knows her skills, and her failings and above all she knows herself.

Estri is more than a woman of pleasure – for on her world this is no shameful profession. As Well Keepress she is much sought after, and highl
Walter Rhein
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a remarkable feminist text. The fact that this was originally published in 1977 is absolutely astounding. I found this book to be similar and far superior to the oft praised "The Handmaid's Tale" (published in 1985). In my opinion, "The Handmaid's Tale" is a very masculine interpretation of femininity (which includes absolute sexual domination). "High Couch" on the other hand, explores the idea of female dominance through sexuality.

I can only imagine what it must have been like to read this
Joe Bonadonna
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel that changed the game for women characters in science fiction, and the women who write science fiction. A daring novel for its time that still retains that same sort of power, it is a complex and highly intelligent read about one women's quest in the far future to find her father and her own identity, to find her destiny and make a difference in her world, to be a catalyst for change. Herein Janet Morris deals with issues of women's equality to men, their sexuality, the power of ...more
S.E. Lindberg
Janet E. Morris’s High Couch of Silistra is Intense, Sex-Infused Fantasy for Thoughtful Readers

In 1977, an intellectual female author wrote a debut, fantasy/sci-fi novel featuring a heroine in a dystopic, alien world striving to discover her mysterious past & god-like ancestry; in 2015, her debut novel was reprinted. Some may assume I am referring to Tanith Lee who passed away recently; her 1975 debut The Birthgrave was reprinted in 1977 and this year which I just read/enjoyed/reviewed. Howe
Deborah McClatchey
High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris. Wow! I happily received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have to say it was uniquely interesting, and found it hard to put down. The well-written main character, Estri Hadrath Diet Estrazi, reeks of sexuality. She runs into many complex situations, some of which are quite violent. “Silistra was the catalyst to the sexual revolution in the year twenty-two thousand seven hundred and four Bipedal Federate Standard Time.” That line alone grabbed my a ...more
S.E. Lindberg
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Janet E. Morris’s High Couch of Silistra is Intense, Sex-Infused Fantasy for Thoughtful Readers In 1977, an intellectual female author wrote a debut, fantasy/sci-fi novel featuring a heroine in a dystopic, alien world striving to discover her mysterious past & god-like ancestry; in 2015, her debut novel was reprinted. Some may assume I am referring to Tanith Lee who passed away recently; her 1975 debut The Birthgrave was reprinted in 1977 and this year which I just read/enjoyed/reviewed. How ...more
Tom Barczak
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Best-selling Author Janet Morris undresses a violent alien world intimate and familiar, met through the eyes of the one woman who’s destined to wield its power. Her strength and her deliverance she claims as her birthright. Her story, a tantalizing seduction, woven like the Chaldra promise which feigns to keep her, the Well Keepress of the High Couch of Silistra.
Uvi Poznansky
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE HIGH COUCH OF SILISTRA paints many contrasts in describing in the character of its heroine, Estri, contrasts in the ways she is viewed by others: “Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.” But there is a unifying inner theme that clarifies her, throughout the ups and downs of her journey: she is a strong willed, adventurous woman leaving her family’s stronghold on a mission to find her father, and in doing so, despite being humiliated, or maybe because of it, she realizes her true mettle. ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A true classic of science fiction and fantasy, and one of the very few that managed to escape my teen-hood... until now. Wow! This amazing book is a rich tapestry you have to read to believe, and believe in the planet of Silistra you will! Janet Morris pulls you into her eclectic reality with all the skill and imagination one rightly expects from the Creator of the "Heroes-in-Hell" shared-world series, and "The Sacred Band of Brothers"!
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I reviewed this book for NetGalley.

"The High Couch of Silistra" is the first novel of the Silistra quartet that Ms. Morris wrote in the late 70s and early 80s. This book was her first science fiction novel and is an excellent space fantasy tale.

The novel is an intersection of the feminism, sexual revolution and fantasy fiction of the 70s. It is entertaining and provocative in following the adventures and exploits of Estri, the heroine of the series. This is a youthful quest saga that is very wel
Chris-Jean Clarke

The author eases the reader into Estri's world and her way of life and introduces us to a protagonist whose personality may well have been flawed by our standards but was, in fact, a normal way of life for her.

As the pace picks up, you can't help but feel compassion and hope for Estri that she will survive against all odds and finally meet her father.

The ending of the story left me wanting more, thus I have added the next book in the series to my 'Christmas-to-rea
Susanne Leist
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a book with many layers. A depth not found in most science fiction books. The heroine finds it harder to conceive than human women. Ester is revered and desired like a courtesan. We feel for her. She has power. Does she abuse this power? Does she improve conditions for other women? There is much potential for good. Does she feel debased and used by men? She grows and learns from this experience. And so do we.
Minki Pool
I wasn't only disappointed so much by the book itself, by also by the reviews. Some Goodreads reviewers called it 'feminist' which, emphatically, it isn't. It is a pointless (though thankfully brief) read about a useless heroine who manages to travel from point A to point B while getting raped a lot.

But let's start with the positive. The one star I give to this book is solely in honour of the excellent world building. And if anyone (no one?) has been following my reviews, you'll know that shoddy
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I probably would not have read this one if I hadn't enjoyed Morris's work so much in the Theives' World books, but I did like it pretty well. It didn't have as much adventure and swashbuckling as I normally like, but good characters and it made me pick up another in this series.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Prostitution glorified. I have books 1 & 2 now want to read the rest. I found these at a Florida swap meet.
Maddie (HedgehogBookReviews)
-I would like to give a big thank you to Perseid Press for the paperback copy of this book!-

You can also find this review on Hedgehog Book Reviews!!

The men and women living on Silistra are governed by a hierarchy of sexual desire and fertility. Infertility is a widespread issue that allows the most sexually appealing women the greatest power. Estri is among the most powerful in the land—she holds the position of the high couch of Silistra. Estri’s mother died during childbirth and she has yet to
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've changed my rating for this book, but kept the original review below. It was so hard reading this book because of the brutal treatment among characters and the complex themes throughout the story. The main character - Estri - is searching for her father at the behest of her deceased mother. The "help" she receives along the way from various men is complicated for lack of a better word. She develops feelings for a few of the men she engages in relations with on her journey - Dellin, Sereth, R ...more
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
No one can argue with Janet Morris's skill in creating beautifully written text. Her prose is of a standard not often seen and the imagery it provokes is almost without equal, even when it's a book written (and please don't kill me) before I was born. The content remains fresh, which is the hallmark of a classic.
The cover from 1977 is dated, yet one can imagine it was fresh and compelling when first released. 50 Shades of Grey it is not--hiding its content beneath a cover that gives little clue
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a very entertaining book, but I'd stop short of calling it feminist or particularly insightful into female sexuality. The woman in this book becomes enthralled by lovers of increasing cruelty from one to the next. The premise seems to be that men or women who embrace their inner beast are the most enlightened and superior. I'm not arguing that physical domination isn't sometimes a very sexy thing, but this story isn't really getting that right, in my opinion. Glorifying prostitution is ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
Rape, worldbuilding, rape that's okay because the rapist is so manly, florid dialogue, and some more rape to top it off.

Bonus quote: "Every woman in her deepest self desires to be bound and raped."
Carolyn F.
I couldn't finish the book. First off, I'm not big on fantasy novels and this novel's beginning seemed full of it. And then the rape but not really, then the real rape, then the degradation but she's enjoying it, I just can't take it. No rating because I didn't finish it.
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I think that, like a lot of readers, I didn't quite know what to make of this book. Is it a brilliant examination of sexuality and gender, or a highly disturbing portrayal of rape fantasies? The answer is probably: both. In any case, it will certainly make you think hard about sex, gender, and consent.

First things first: as a work of fantasy/science fantasy it is excellent. It melds fantasy and sci-fi tropes to create a galaxy full of alien races where space travel is normal, but most of the act
Dominique Bonten
Mar 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. When I requested it, the description deceived me into thinking this book was entirely what it isn’t.

First of all, I want to note that the author, Janet Morris, has a superb writing style. On top of that, she was pretty creative with a backstory and a “fantasy” setting. But realistically, it was just glorified rape porn. Which really, really shocked me. Because it comes out of nowhere, and once it starts, it seems like it never ends.

This book made me nauseous. I
May 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am simply stunned by the interpretations of this work by other reviewers. The indication seems to be that they find this book to be feminist. The main character is strong and confident in her sexuality...until the author does everything in her power to rip that away and prove to the reader that her only strength and power is that granted to her by the men in her life. She then thanks them for the granting... The reviewer
Grace Troxel
Sep 18, 2012 rated it liked it
This review originally appeared:

The High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris is set on a post-apocalyptic planet that had been ravaged by nuclear war. Genetic mutations have made it very difficult to procreate, and so society has been arranged to glorify promiscuity in the hopes that some genetic combinations may prove fruitful. Civilization is centered around the Wells, which are pretty much centers of prostitution, and women hold most of the power in socie
William O'Brien
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
High Couch of Silistra (The Silistra Quartet Book...
Janet Morris

Pure excellence.

High Couch of Silistra unfolds revealing a complex and visionary story to grasp any enquiring mind, whilst turning these pages of pure genius. The historical and mythical details created by the author thoroughly tease the imagination of the reader. Without doubt, the works of Morris are to be taken, held and captured as nothing more than great literature.

A heroic quest of this highest calibre.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Georgina by: Mims
So this is a universally loved pioneer novel of feminist blah blah yap yap yap. I didn't enjoy it.

On the positive side: Janet E. Morris is a professional and competent writer. The standards for the publishing industry at the time were based on English spelling, grammar and usage so at least there is no hailstorm of --------- and )()()()()()()()()()( which certain 21st century women authors of "fantasy" consider an acceptable replacement for character arc and plot development. Morris is so thank
Jul 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

This was really more of a two star book but I am giving it one star to equalize the overall rating.....way too many unjustified 5 star ratings. I have to wonder if these people actually read this book or if they are part of the group of pseudo-intellectuals who pretend to read these type of books and write erroneous reviews of its quality and significance.

The characters - Not what I would call fleshed out.....paper thin and semi-one dimensional is a mo
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The Silistra Series 3 13 Nov 27, 2018 07:37AM  

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Janet Ellen Morris (born May 25, 1946) is a United States author. She began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 20 novels, many co-authored with David Drake or her husband Chris Morris. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, and edited the Bangsian fantasy series Heroes in Hell. Most of her work has been in the fantasy and science ficti ...more

Other books in the series

Silistra (4 books)
  • The Golden Sword (Silistra, #2)
  • Wind from the Abyss (Silistra, #3)
  • The Carnelian Throne  (Silistra, #4)