276 of 290 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2012
Once upon a time, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy was one of the best kept secrets of novelist Anne Rice's body of work, published under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. Any prolific reader of Rice's novels understands that when they open that cover, they are bound to enter a world so deeply conceived, so sumptuously described, that it takes on a life and plausibility all its own, and this series is no exception.
The tale begins with the awakening of Sleeping Beauty to ravishment by the Prince who breaks the spell of sleep on her kingdom. Indebted to the Prince, her parents consent to allow Beauty to be taken as tribute to the castle of the Prince's mother, Queen Eleanor, whose power dominates the surrounding kingdoms. Beauty is thereafter made to serve the erotic pleasures of the Queen's courtiers, male and female, who attempt to instill empathy and humility in her, and prepare her to be a wise ruler when she inherits her family's throne. This subtext of forging an entitled and spoiled aristocrat into an empathetic one is a clever and satisfying justification for the trials that Beauty must endure.
Unfortunately, Beauty and her fellow slaves Princes Alexi and Laurent, are rebellious. This results in deeper punishment, humiliations, and painfully pleasurable sexual torments. Their refusal to embrace the lessons of the Queen and her aristocracy prolongs their trials, leading to exile to a village of the common people. Here, their royal rank is meaningless and invites deeper, even resentful torments. When this also proves inadequate, they are exiled to a foreign land where they face the greatest trials of all.
To call the Beauty series pornography is to call a Rembrandt "just a painting". The eroticism is explicit, but never descends into psychological darkness. The trials are heady, playful at times, but never focused on the stereotypes of self-loathing submissives or egomaniacal dominants. The spanking, bondage and sex are a spice designed to season the characters, not destroy them. For the reader - straight, gay, or bisexual, there are characters and erotic scenes for everyone.
Another accomplishment of the series is the ambient bisexuality of all the characters that is devoid of faux moralizing. Beauty must serve the pleasure of men and women, and her male counterparts must do the same. Rice's medieval world doesn't judge orientations, but focuses like a laser on the universal pleasure of sexuality and mentoring. This gives the novels depth and an unexpected uplifting effect that lingers well beyond the turning of the final page.
230 of 253 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2000
When I read the first of the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice, I read it in an afternoon. I immediately went out and bought the remaining two books in the trilogy. I had purchased the first one out of curiosity, after paging through it. At first, these books may seem to be just a lot of sex, and S and M type of stuff, but there is more to it than that. Rice explores the feelings of the characters and how they adjust to their situation and surroundings, and how they relate to each other in such an extraordinary setting. I found myself reading as fast as I could to find out what happened to Beauty and her friends. If you are offended by extremely explicit and graphic sex, you would not like these books. But if that doesn't bother you, and you like a sense of fantasy and seductiveness, these are the books for you.
210 of 234 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2002
Many years ago, as rumor has it, Anne Rice set out to prove that the world of erotica was not limited to male writers. It was her contention, so the story goes, that a women could contribute to this genre just as well, if not better.
And so, under the pen name A. N. Roquelaure, Anne created a trilogy of intense sado-masochistic erotic novels loosely based on the fairytale "Sleeping Beauty."
To say that these books are overwhelmingly intense is not to state the case. It is possible to read them without having a predeliction toward the acts that are graphically described on almost every page, but be warned that Anne, aka Roquelaure, pulls no punches, and there is absolutely nothing subtle or hinted at in these books.
Like everything Anne wrote before "Memnoch the Devil," the Beauty Chronicles are works of genius, in my opinion. They contain the same richness, the same historical detail, the same darkness as all of her later books to come, including her chronicles of the witches, and the vampires. I am not a regular reader of such novels, so I cannot compare them to others of the genre, but I venture to say that these books have to stand out as unique at the least, mind-blowing at the most.
It is easy to understand the deep eroticism of Rice's witch and vampire books after sampling the Beauty chronicles. For many many years, I imagined Rice as a veritable cauldron of bubbling thoughts, erotic and otherwise, sane and otherwise, struggling to break free. These three books seem to prove the point, which is why I can view them as more than trash.
Anne knew what she was doing, and she did it, as only she can, in a spectacular manner. Again, be warned: If you are going to read the Beauty Chronicles, expect pure, savage erotica, with nothing hidden or explained away. I read these novels to gain more insight into what makes Rice tick. I did not come away unshocked or unscathed, but I certainly read her later works with a new understanding.
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2000
There is so much more to these books. The "beauty" of Anne Rice's writing comes out in such brilliant form here. She explores underlying, basic human instincts and desires, along with all the emotions surrounding them. Yes, the sex is graphic and explicit, so if that bothers you then don't read them. But the story wouldn't work any other way. She brings you right along with Beauty into another world, and you can't help but be drawn in by the tempting surrealism. A great escape, in my opinion. I highly recommmend this trilogy to any true Anne Rice fan, or just for those who enjoy good erotic fiction (this would probably fall into the S&M/Bondage genre). If you like it, you'll really like it. Set aside a long, quiet evening and you'll be through all three books before you know it, with a smile on your face, thanks to Ms. Rice.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2002
A.N. Roquelaure puts a new spin on an age old tale! 15 year old Beauty is awakened by the prince not with a kiss but with sexual initiation. Overwelmed by her beauty the prince takes her to his neighboring kingdom and starts her on the road to sexual dominence and submision. Beauty is the princes personal pleasure slave and must please him at all cost. Even though it includes daily spankings with paddles, whips, bare hands and crops. It is a journey into the world of BDSM that most readers will know little about at the beginning of the first book but will by the end of the third book! Anne Rice really does her home work for these novels and one must wonder if she should not by credited as Mistress Roquelaure. I enjopyed the books very much as she goes into great detail to draw the reader into the story. These are books for open minded people. Not the prudish! A.N. Roquelaure weaves a wonderfully erotic tale of the sleeping beauty legend complete with a "Happily Ever After" ending. A must read!!!
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
I had peeked at these novels for years while browsing bookstores but finally had the nerve to purchase the first one about a year ago. Within a week, I owned all three. While I thoroughly enjoy reading good erotica, too many authors offer the same dialog and plots that are extremely unimaginative, trite, or downright ridiculous. It almost seems like sex is joke in such novels. I found nothing like that in the Sleeping Beauty novels. You can't describe these books with words like "steamy" or "hot." The sex depicted in the plot comes from deep down inside a person who finds freedom in submission, where their bodies only exist as means to serve and pleasure another. It is more spiritual and mental than it is physical. The characters are extremely well-written, their personalities and histories are just as important as the acts they participate in. (I personally fell in love with the character of Tristan who desperately wants to submit to another but yearns for a strict and merciless master.) But ironically, I found Beauty to be the weakest character and was happy that her story became almost secondary in the second and third books.
Be forewarned: Most sex acts in these novels are between men instead of men and women. The characters are not necessarily homosexual or heterosexual, they are in bondage to please both sexes and must participate in any acts their masters desire. I used to turn away stories or novels with acts involving only men or only women, it made me a bit squeamish. But Rice writes with such emotion, that every coupling in these books is compelling and beautiful no matter which characters are involved.
THAT is what I'm trying to get at - these books are not written just to stimulate someone for bedtime or foreplay. There are real emotions, love, fear, desire, and lust, involved here.
I watched an interview with Anne Rice where she was asked why she wrote these books. In so many words, she explained this was something she had inside her and had to get out on paper. These books awoke something that has always been within me since I became aware of my own sexuality so I can understand Rice's explanation. Not only is this series erotic and exciting, it is literary, well-written, and a true exploration of sexuality, most of the discoveries being something real people would never admit to or are fearful of.
77 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 1999
Sleeping Beauty awakens to find Prince Charming is taking her to his castle not to make her his wife but take her through an adventure which makes her subject to the whims of the countless inhabitants of his castle. Her adventures continue when she visits the local village in the second novel and is abducted and taken to a Sultan's castle in the third. But in the end her greatest adventure is finding true love.
I read all three of Ann Rice's Sleeping Beauty novel's, and almost every other book she's ever written. I loved her other books because of the sensual, erotic way in which she writes. When I bought the trilogy, I never imagined I would encounter the best erotic fiction I have ever read. I loved the Trilogy. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind, however if you are not, then read at your own risk.
49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2000
Though I was skeptical at first, I rapidly found that this series is stimulating, colorful, and entrancing. Anne Rice does a wonderful job of delving into the thoughts behind submission, offering beautifully written descriptions of the desires of the characters. To truly appreciate this body of work, one really must read all three books in the series. By following Beauty through all the books, you can watch as her character developes and see how she comes to understand and love her submission. As well, the ending of the third book ties everything together as only a fairy tale can. I loved this series, and although I would have liked a bit more variance in the punishment scenes, I still find myself pouring over the books and my favorite passages.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 1999
The Sleeping Beauty trilogy has to be the most enthralling and captivating series I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I got the first book from a friend, and as soon as I finished it I had to go out and buy the second and third books. I couldn't put them down! I've always read a lot in the past but never anything that actually kept me intrigued throughout the entire book, let alone an entire series. These books awaken the dormant animalistic desires that burn within us all. A definate must read for anyone that needs some passion and excitement in their lives.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2001
I was disappointed. Granted, as I am both an Anne Rice and BDSM enthusiast, I had *high* expectations. This arc began with great promise, and the beginning of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty awoke a definite sense of eroticism, that dark sensuality ... [and then] this degenerated into a marathon of spankings and punishments so hardcore it gets ridiculous. This stuff doesn't turn you on, it makes you roll your eyes. ... The tender, erotic aspects of a dominatrix/slave relationship were tossed aside for pages of being spanked on the buttocks and men having phallic shaped objects shoved into them.