Favorite Lines: “It took several weeks for me to recover from the circumcision.” (p. 188)
Zarq Darquel is a scrawny member of a poor pottery clan on a large dragon estate. A child, she inadvertently gains the attention of the dragonmaster after winning a race and gets her first taste of dragon venom before a series of horrible events that end with her father being fed to a dragon, her mother made insane and her sister sold into the dregs of sexual slavery.
Touched by Venom is book one in the Dragon Temple Saga that is an epic journey undertaken by a young girl who was given a boy’s name at birth, Zarq. Zarq is born into a patriarchal society where women dare not question men. In this society boys are considered men as soon as they lose their baby teeth.
Zarq is a child when the events begin to take place. She wins a race and as a reward is given a venom soaked handle of a whip to hold. With no protection on her hand, she is injured, and the boy she raced against takes it personally. He attacks and insults Zarq before later breaking tradition and causing the clan to become paupers.
Touched by Venom is a hard book to read. The terminology is difficult to learn and remember. There is no glossary. Terrible events take place. Sexual issues are explored: sexual slavery, sexual acts, circumcision, castration and sexual status. All play important roles in understanding the society, and eventually Zarq’s growth.
From the innocence of a child, we watch Zarq unfurl into an addict determined to avenge her wronged family. This can be no easy task, as women are at the bottom of the social ladder and her position…it is even lower than the lowliest. Keep in mind that Touched by Venom is book one in a saga. The ending is a cliff-hanger, but on the flip side if you’re interested in the tale the next few books are already out.