Soul Rider is a Science Fantasy series by Jack L. Chalker. The series takes place on a future half-failed colony world divided between the chaotic "flux" and Lady Land "anchors", which preserved technology and civilization by turning them into Women's Mysteries.
It consists of the following novels:
- Spirits of Flux and Anchor
- Empires of Flux and Anchor
- Masters of Flux and Anchor
- The Birth of Flux and Anchor
- Children of Flux and Anchor
This series contains examples of:
- Brainwashed: Cassie. After having magically compelled herself to become the champion of Mother Church on World, her bond eventually falls apart and she is captured by the male-dominated society of New Eden, who use traditional brainwashing methods to turn her into a compliant female.
- Brought Down to Normal: Former Knight Templar Cass/Sister Kassdy agreed to give up all of her flux powers as part of becoming The Atoner. Ironically, this actually results in her becoming even more badass since the mechanism involved also makes her totally immune to those powers, tuning her into every flux manipulator's worst nightmare: a ferocious Mama Bear who cannot be injured—or even detected—by their powers. Given that most of the heroes are members of her extended family she is thus a person much to be feared. Fortunately for the bad guys the heroes tend to keep 'Grandma' in reserve until the absolutely last moment because she can't be healed by magic either.
- Crippling Castration: Geoffrey Haldane, the first Big Bad in the series, was castrated as a teenager for the crime of spying on Women's Mysteries, and later forced to accept a permanent Gender Bender by a sorceress who found his situation amusing, leading to him going on crusade to punish all women for the loss of his testicles.
- Fantastic Religious Weirdness: In the prequel book, as the colonists are settling in on their new planet, the narrator remarks that the Muslim communities had long debates over which way Mecca was, given that, due to the method of travel they used to get there, they didn't even know which way Earth was. They decided that upward was the best bet. The narrator commented that this put them in agreement with the Christians in the group, and wondered if someday all their children would wind up praying to the gas giant planet that the planet was orbiting. Which is exactly what happened when the computers running the world ran a conversion program on the entire society to prevent a civil war and decimation of the populace and merged all religions into a single one as part of that change.
- Freudian Excuse: Coydt Van Haaz, the Big Bad of Empires of Flux and Anchor, wants to turn a Lady Land into a No Woman's Land to get back at the priestesses who castrated him for a relatively minor offense.
- Full-Circle Revolution: One of the major points of the series is to show the phases that a revolution goes through and what can happen to it. Anchor Logh starts out as a society ruled by a female-dominated church that imprisons and enslaves a young Cassie as a danger to its rule ... and becomes New Eden, a society ruled by a male-dominated church that imprisons and brainwashes a mature Cassie as a danger to its rule. Cassie's husband, the revolution's leader, does have dreams of achieving something better but is ultimately betrayed and killed.
- Future Imperfect: World has several examples of this. In one case, the secret holy name of Firbasforten passed on by the Holy Mother Church is actually the colony's original designation, "Forward Fire Base Fourteen". This also tends to happen a lot in World's religious practices; the original tradition of looking up at the sky to pray (in part because Muslims among the original colonists couldn't agree on which direction Mecca would be) eventually evolved into the Mother Church's believers praying to the brightest non-solar object in that sky as their Goddess. The object is actually a nearby gas giant.
- Go-Go Enslavement: After a revolution turns Anchor Logh into New Eden, the female half of New Eden's population is forced to wear the skimpiest clothing possible, as a reminder of their status and duties.
- Happiness in Slavery: By the time of Masters of Flux and Anchor, Cassie has become completely discouraged with how her life has turned out and voluntarily takes a binding spell to become a New Eden Fluxgirl and the wife of New Eden's leader, Adam. While her "happiness" is partly a factor of her Flux transformation, she does come to love her life with him and their twin daughters and even chooses at a later point to have her memories of the past re-shaped so that she can leave her old pain behind. At least, until a Soul Rider gives her back her memory, independence, and power near the end of the book — and even then, she remains a faithful and loving wife to Adam.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Spirit is transformed by Coydt into a child of nature, unable to speak, use tools or wear clothing, and completely unashamed by her naked state. Since she also becomes invulnerable to the elements, clothes become unnecessary for her and even literally painful to wear. This eventually becomes Shameless Fanservice Girl after she briefly recovers her "civilized" state and then chooses to resume her enforced "natural" state out of disgust with the compromises that are being made by Cassie and her allies.
- Lady Land: The series takes place on a future half-failed colony world divided between the chaotic "flux" and Lady Land "anchors", which preserved technology and civilization by turning them into Women's Mysteries. The plot of one of the books revolves around a conspiracy by a group of disgruntled men to subvert several anchors and turn them (and the fluxlands between them) into a No Woman's Land instead.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The wizard Mervyn, one of the mightiest Fluxlords on World and the leader of the Nine Who Guard, eventually faces off against his opposite number, Zelligman Ivan, in Masters of Flux and Anchor. The two fight until both are completely unrecognizable and depleted of energy, reduced to fighting with fists and teeth. The victor — still unrecognizable — barely manages to croak "I won!" over the body of his dead opponent before also dying himself.
- Sex Slave: The fate of all New Eden Fluxgirls, whose second-class status is enforced by a transformation that makes them beautiful, ignorant, and totally ruled by their body.
- Shameful Strip: This happens to Cassie twice. The first time, she's been caught spying around a temple and is placed naked in a cell, told that if she resists, there will be chains and a gag, too. The second time, she's been abducted by the male-dominated society of New Eden, waking up from unconsciousness to find herself naked, gagged and handcuffed. The abduction is a prelude to an extended period of "re-education".
- This also happens to Cassie's daughter Spirit, who is abducted by Coydt van Haas and magically made to strip herself as a proof of his power.
- Slave Brand: The male-dominated society of New Eden tattoos the rump of all new Fluxgirls, women bound into slavery (and perpetual ignorance) by magic.
- Women's Mysteries:
- A teenage boy is punished for spying on Women's Mysteries with "honorary woman" status through Crippling Castration followed by an involuntary Gender Bender. Hilarity definitely does ''not'' ensue.
- On the other hand when something similar happens to another character in the same series (castrated then given a woman's vulva as a replacement) he decides to use his officially female status to gain access to the corridors of power. Unfortunately he dies in battle before he can put this plan into action.