I feel I must start with a disclaimer. I began reading this book with a very strong bias toward liking it before I even cracked its virtual cover. Not because I already knew that I liked Kannan's writing style (though this is true), or because I had already read and enjoyed the short story that became the basis for the novella (also true.) I was biased toward this book because it's my kink on the pages. Despite obvious anatomical incongruities between me and the protagonists, I'm most deeply attracted to pairings (or multiplings) on the queerer end of the spectrum, and a blend of sadomasochism and power play blended with a nice, sharp edge of pushing and seeking for intangible limits pushes ALL my buttons. So needless to say, this novella turned me on, and isn't that the holy grail of erotica? Honestly, though, I really couldn't say how someone whose tastes were more contrary might view it.
I found Lord of Misrule delightful. Rich, privileged and brilliant scholar Verity is the type of character that you can cheer to see taken down a notch or seven with no misgivings, and the choice of his servant—cool, unreadable and ever-so-proper Iskander—as the one to bring on the taking down brings about many opportunities (well taken, I might add) to play with the more interesting aspects of power exchange as a sexual mechanism.
The relationship between the two of them is in a constant state of flux that appeals to me greatly. Verity struggles with the fact that his wants and needs when it comes to Iskander are contrary to his normal role in a relationship, and the intensity of his feelings for him are often on the edge of becoming just too overwhelming to handle. I'm happy to say that he does manage to eventually crack that implacable shell of Iskander's. Once or twice, a little bit, at least. The emotional honesty with which the characters are written, especially Verity's struggles, allow the reader to identify with, and even like, a character who has more than a few flaws.
I found the writing style flowing, easy to follow, and paced at such a rate that I wanted to keep turning e-reader-pages until I'd run out. As is the case with many e-books, especially in the erotica genre, there seems to be a slightly higher concentration of copyediting errors than their paper counterparts, but it passes the litmus test that I use to measure such errors with ease: never did I find myself being wrenched out of the book, or otherwise unpleasantly distracted by their occasional blips.
A solid 4.5 stars (or erect nipples, if you prefer.)
Highly recommended to anyone whose idea of good smut involves a bit of the queer and kinky.