Disclaimer: this is NOT intended for educational purposes. This post is not appropriate for persons under the age of 18. Please do thorough research before engaging in any discussed activities. This post serves as a story-related exploration of fictional characters' sexuality in the safety of fantasy. Consider this post a deeper dive into the fictional romantic relationship of beloved characters, but it is NOT an accurate representation of a BDSM dynamic.
Trigger Warning: Kings of Shadow and Stone contains portrayals of non-consensual, consensual non-consensual or dubious consent, and consensual sexually explicit scenes. As well as explicit language and graphic domestic violence. Portrayals of kinks, such as bondage, primal play, blood play and consumption, breath play, and impact play. Reader discretion is advised.
Primal Play: the freedom to explore & express primal or animalistic urges during sex & intimacy: such as chasing, growling, biting, scratching, etc.
Example, The King- Primal predators or hunters live for the hunt. They desire to overpower and consume their prey.
Example, Keres- Primal prey desire to be hunted, chased, and overpowered. This doesn't mean they go down without a fight.
There are multiple examples of Primal Play between Keres and Berlium in Kings of Shadow and Stone. The King is a natural predator/dominant and Keres is drawn to submit to him. At first, the seduction of his magic forces her to submit, but eventually, Keres finds freedom in her willing submission to him.
Some fun examples of Primal in their relationship: besides all the obvious growling, the King often corners Keres or chases her. He's not afraid of taking her down and she enjoys putting up a fight. They often growl, purr, bite, and scratch each other. Their game of hide and seek in the maze and their chase through the corridors of Bamidele are favorite scenes of many readers.
I'm making this post to glance at their fictional, romantic relationship with an appreciation of kink. As the King says, Keres is a brat but her submission is not weakness. Exploration and expression of kink is never weakness. I love that these two monstrous creatures are able relate to each other on a primal level and find safety in each other. They're both free to fill roles they naturally lean into without shame.
In fact, a big theme in their relationship is surrender and freedom. Keres has harbored a lot of grief and guilt in her lifetime. She's beaten herself down for the monster she sees herself as. Through sex, she's able to finally let go. She doesn't have to be in control. She loves to resist the King because it gives her adrenaline and turns her on. That is an expression of her sexual liberation and desire. Similarly, the King is often painted by others as a mindless aggressor who "breaks women like dolls," but Keres is not a doll. In a sense, he is also finally free to fill his role as a hunter without fear. Because of his ability to read Keres' mind and sense her physical boundaries, he finds freedom in exploring her desires and his own.
In KOSAS, Keres is learning the scope of her gods-given power. She’s taking control of parts of herself she’s long resented. While stepping into this power, she’s simultaneously exploring submission in her sexual relationship with the King. She’s exchanging power and control with him. It’s like she doesn’t have to be the meaner monster for once. Keres craves the King’s dominance as much as he craves her submission. Resistance is another layer that excites them both.
Over the course of the book, this power exchange deepens their intimacy until they reach a point where sex is not only physically satisfying and liberating, but also emotionally fulfilling. Each sex scene in the book subsequently deepens that connection. A primal mating bond forms between them which is quite literally consummated by consumption of one another’s blood.
As stated above, this fictional relationship should in no way be a mirror or model for any reader's real life relationships. BUT I do hope that readers are encouraged to explore their own sensuality and kinks, that they do proper research and practice safetly.
I’m thankful to readers who have gone into the dark with these characters with open minds.