Cover Image: The Fortress

The Fortress

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Member Reviews

I received a copy of this book from Erewhon Books through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Fortress is an alternate world story about a man who has a successful job, coming from a good/money family, but after his wife discovered his multiple affairs, even though she is pregnant with their first child, she kicks him out of their home, wanting a divorce, but after the death of one of his business associates, she gives him a way to fix their marriage; he had to spend a year at the Fortress, a city on an island ran separate from the rest of the world by the Vaik, women.

Once living under the Vaik's rules, Jonathan cannot ask questions, hit anyone in anger, and he cannot refuse sex, thus making this book not suitable for readers under 18. There is mentions of rape, both women and children, along with what one would technically consider non-consensual sex.

The Fortress, by S.A. Jones, is an interesting story that explores right and wrong as seen through people's eyes and how different those views and opinions can be. It also touches on the topic of the questions, what is rape and what is consent and how those terms can have a broad definition, meaning different things to different people.

For me it was a slow read, not a whole lot of action, just Jonathan's daily activities at the Fortress, and his thoughts and of memories of his life, and how the rules of the Fortress went against his understanding of the rules. While it was a little interesting, I did have to force myself to sit down and read it.

The part of the story line that really got my attention was about the Vaik, who were they, their history, which sadly wasn't really explained, just touched upon, and how those in charge change the facts to suit their needs. I would like to see a book about the Vaik, their history and what really happened.

Overall, I wouldn't give this book too highly of a recommendation, the writing was really good, but the story was only ok, earning it 2 stars from me.
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The Fortress was a very dystopian-type story, but the dystopian society exists behind the walls of The Fortress.  Outside those walls, the world is very much like our world today.  This book will piss people off and make others name it the best book of the year, which is why I loved it.

The Fortress is an enclosed community where the Vaik, a matriarchy society, live.  Men from outside The Fortress can apply to live there temporarily for a variety of reasons.  For men, the work consists of hard labor and being a sex slave.  Jonathan has chosen to live there for one year to win his pregnant wife back after a ridiculous string of sexual encounters with office "poodles".   

The entire story is told from Jonathon's perspective which was interesting, but also frustrating.  We only learn what Jonathan learns, which leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the Vaik and their Fortress.  We do, however, get a chance to see the experience through Jonathan's eyes.  He's clearly a callous man, so he is hard to connect with, but that felt right for the story.  I liked seeing glimpses of recovery within him, but also seeing his struggles throughout the process.

This story is fairly explicit.  The sexual scenes are not long and drawn out, but there is use of explicit language for parts of the human body. Additionally, it does describe things being done between one, two, three, etc people.  So, if that's not your thing, this book won't be for you, but if you can handle that, the story is really quite interesting!

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I thought it was an interesting idea with characters that elicited strong feelings from me.  I would recommend this for readers that enjoy a dystopian-type story and are not deterred by sexual content.

I was provided an advanced reader's copy of this book. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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I enjoyed reading several aspects of this book! The pacing was wonderful, characters were well drawn, and the reading experience on the whole was delightful.
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Interesting and well written story. S. A. Jones does a great job of showing the complete journey of Jonathon in The Vaik. I liked the characters and the alternate world building. I would definitely love to see the Vaik and its inhabitants revisited again at some point.
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Ooof. I feel very bad for DNFing this but the amount of rape and violence so far made my stomach turn. I thought I could handle it and I was wrong. The ideas presented so far are very interesting so I'd encourage others to try this.
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Definitely a challenging and gripping, often uncomfortable read. Reading right at start of physical, sexual invasion of protagonist Jonathan's body by groping hands made me squirm in imagining, myself a female, what that experience for a male might be like.  Throughout those reimaginings from dominant male pov were enlightening if not pretty .. paedophilia was harder to accommodate, and I was lost th et re. Jonathan never really gets it about females but simply vis learning what it feels like to be dominated sexual being.  It's about that and not about the female society's organisation etc .. so in that sense I'm not sure what I'm to take away except shared discomfort. I certainly wanted to know outcome! The fact that it's a tepid result in Jonathan's realisations etc is after all only realistic. An odd and unsettling novel ..
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Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for this eARC
I honestly am not sure what to make of this book. Initially I was drawn in but about halfway through I was not feeling the Authenticity of the main character Jonathon. He was there to learn, to grow and change his behaviour and expectations particularly towards women but I never truly felt that he was committed enough to make this changes. The only time I felt that he showed emotion and passion was towards the pedo and  Uladia. The former was a hatred and disgust and the latter as a protector although I cringed at that part of the story where he still had a ‘duty’ to fulfil. .
It was an interesting read but not one that I would go back and read again
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I could not read past the first chapter or so of this book because of the poor formatting of the egalley. There were sentences chopped off and parts missing it seems. I have a physical ARC and will definitely try reading that in the future, assuming it does not also have these errors.
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DNF at 28%

It is really a shame that I had to DNF this book. It put into a reading slump so bad that for about 3 weeks I despised reading. And to accept this, that I despised reading, it is really hurting me. Though I have tried so hard to understand and to see past those dry words! Past those hurtful words! I expected to read about strong women showing men how to understand the gravity of some of their actions and helping them to see that there are better ways to be a man in a dystopian society. 
And what do you think I got?! At least for those 28% that I managed to get through.
I got a bunch of women treating men like slaves. Allowing pedophiles near underaged girls. Sexually herasing and assaulting men, men who did these things before to come to their so called Fortress. And these women, they are supposed to "heal" or something like this those men with this kind of behavior, and in some cases, like with pedophiles, to turn them into nothing, whatever that sould mean. 
Now, my question is, how can you say, or assume, or suppose, or whatever, that your women only society is helping with the misbehavior of men, when they do the exact same things that the men did outside their Fortress, but with a smile on their faces and with sensual voice and the kind of sayings "Oh, whatever you are called, sorry I ordered you to fuck me but I didn't noticed that your knees were on the bare ground."?! And then sassy giggling! How is this supposed to better the men's thinking and behavior? How is, stripping them of all they have, material and psychological, supposed to make them understand that women are not sexual slaves?! 
How, in the Universe's name, save the world if you put a bomb in the middle of those who put one in your society first?!...
I just can't understand this book, or what is trying to say. It's a mean and sick book, presenting itself with a superior smirk...
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Jonathan comes from a world where men feel entitled to take sexual advantage of the women who work for them, who they call "poodles", without consequences.  Upon his wife's discovery of his behavior she requests he spend a year at "the fortress" as his penance.  While at The Fortress he will be at the complete will of the Vaik there in all means of labor,  physical and sexual so that he can become aware of "his self". It's a strange observation of the roles of predatory men in society,  power in the hands of women and our true natures.
Do I believe that the behavior of a group of men can go completely unchecked? Possibly but not to the extent portrayed. 
Do I believe a community of women can exist with men solely serving a function? Not really.  
Do I believe after a year with these woman Jonathan becomes a better man and realizes his true self? Definitely no. 
I appreciate the fantasy of the story but don't feel I gained any satisfaction in the outcome. I wanted Jonathan to suffer consequences for his choices,  not be rewarded for taking what seems like a small step towards redemption
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This book was listed in an article called “Five Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books to Ease Your April Isolation” and it is definitely captivating. It takes some of the tropes from early feminist sci-fi (women only or matriarchal) and pulls it into the near present, in an era of #metoo and consent. The central character has been sent to The Fortress after his wife catches him cheating, again, and must submit to whatever happens there. In his former life he was a high powered executive so it is quite the change. I read it in a day and was uncomfortable and delighted simultaneously.
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The premise of this book had a lot of promise. I liked the upending of the "man stranded in an all-woman society where the women are desperate for him" scifi trope, but the fact that none of the women characters in this book have any real depth to them stands in contrast to the presumed message we're supposed to take away from the protagonist's journey. The world building of the Vaik society is done well, but the idea that it's just neighboring a society that's identical to our own real society is rather inexplicable.
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A great premise muddled in execution. I guess because Jonathon is already basically a cad, a tiger can't completely change its stripes, but a total transformation would've felt forced as well. There were nuances that just couldn't be teased out properly. The tables have been turned on him, but the effects over time are nebulous, probably because certain experiences are hinted at it and glossed over (basically intimate interactions with the Vaik). I questioned how much of the "insignificance" his wife hoped he'd experience actually happened, like whether he would really feel it deep down. He has some clarities about self, yet he still referred to interns at his former job as "poodles" throughout his supposed transformation. The story of what brought him to the point of entering The Fortress weave in and out of his current time and experiences there, and at times the back and forth is a little confusing. Other than visiting a couple of parts of the inner city within the Fortress, we learn little about Vaik society beyond what is discussed during his experiences as a field hand and potential farm stud.
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I rarely come across a book that I so disliked as much as I did The Fortress by Australian author S. A. Jones. 

Set in the near future, the book is set in a world much like ours, class system, sexism, and all. Jonathan Bridge is a highly successful executive, happily married (he would say) who enjoys all the perks of success, including an endless flow of attractive interns. Jonathon's world exists alongside a vast, self-sustaining city-state called The Fortress where the indigenous inhabitants–the Vaik, a society run and populated exclusively by women–live in isolation.

After his pregnant wife discovers his history of sexual betrayals and the vicious sexual activity that goes on unchallenged in his company, Jonathon is given a choice - divorce or a year's exile to The Fortress where women rule and men are assigned to grueling hard labor, forbidden to ask questions, to raise their hand in anger, and to refuse sex (with women or men of any age).. These conditions have been created to help a man like Jonathon change, to learn how the other half lives to value women based on who they and not sexual objects, in exchange for a second chance with his wife when he returns home.

Intriguing? Yes. Successful? No. The book lacks a much needed sense of conclusion, After all the sexual encounters (in graphic and vivid details) throughout the book, Jonathon's transformation. seems like an afterthought. Hollow. Unsatisfying. I left the book feeling dirty. I wanted to wash my hands. Repeatedly. In a novel which decries the objectification of women, it does just that.

I received this title as an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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For fans of Atwood and Rand, this book provides a unique glimpse into a possible future where women rule at the fortress. The book takes place in the not so distant future, where traditional gender roles are apparently still a thing. With one exception: if you make questionable choices--such as cheating on your wife--you can choose to repent for your sin by going to live at the fortress. There women rule and men have no rights. To enter the fortress is to let go of everything that means anything to you. I enjoyed the premise of the book but elt the ending tied everything up a little too neatly.
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The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking to myself, THIS is the kind of book that's going to immediately be put on reading lists for university classes all over the place. A high-powered misogynistic executive named Jonathon gets found out by his pregnant wife, who demands he spend a year in the matriarchal society The Fortress as a supplicant, or she will leave him. 

I can see how this book would have made a lot of people, particularly men, uncomfortable. Jonathon is reminded constantly in The Fortress that, as a male supplicant, he has no autonomy over his own body and actions, and we are constantly reminded of how uncomfortable and powerless he is with windows into internal panic and fear. It crosses lines of consent and pushes boundaries. And all I could think to myself was that there have been so many books written about women being in this same position - at men's mercy, powerless, used for their bodies and minds and strength against their consent or under the guise of coerced consent - that people laud and scream about how the whole world has to read them and study them to understand. Why are we comfortable witnessing women's pain and discomfort, but not men's? Why are we more comfortable reading about Offred being raped in The Handmaid's Tale than we are reading about Jonathon being used in The Fortress? 

I think this was an excellent book that will get people talking, and no matter what, it will get a reaction.
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A fantastical new take on sci-fi dystopia! This novel was riveting and enjoyable and terrifying all at once.
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Not exactly my cup of tea, but it was still an interesting story. The worldbuilding was lacking and the societal commentary on gender roles, sexuality, power, and rape left much to be destined but I saw what the author was trying to convey. However, that sex scene with an underage child wasn't necessary.
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This was just weird and not in a good way. I can’t even say that I was fully invested in the story. It started off interesting but I lost interest about a quarter of the way in. I almost gave up a few times and I probably should have.

I did kind of enjoy men getting what they deserve but it just wasn’t that intriguing. Jonathon was a slimy a**hole and I felt no empathy for him. He tried to make himself sound like a good guy but he was just as guilty as the others.

This was not an impressive read and I can’t say that I’m glad that I read it. I felt like my time was wasted.
And there were too many upsetting things to handle all at once.
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The Fortress - a closed society where the rules are made and enforced by women to make men obey without asking questions, raise their hand in anger or refuse sex.  

Jonathan has agreed to be a supplicant for a year to save his marriage and be a good father to his unborn child.  He will face many challenges - can he do it?  It's worth reading to find out the answer.
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