Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback $1.95 (249 pages), e-book $12.95.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)
This is the sequel and conclusion to Legacy: Dawn, reviewed here last August and set in Rukis’ Red Lantern world. Rukis has said on e621, “Legacy is a story set in the Red Lantern world, and takes place roughly 20 years before the events of Red Lantern. You do not need to follow Red Lantern to understand this story, it can be read entirely independently, but if you follow the series, it will certainly enrich the world for you.”
But you do need to know Legacy: Dawn. This begins right after. Right after. Rukis serialized the complete Legacy online on Patreon, and you can’t help suspecting the two halves are meant to be republished as a single book someday soon. You should certainly read the review of Legacy: Dawn first and then this one together. That ends “Legacy: Dawn is about Kadar’s and Ahsin’s struggle for the freedom to be together, in a society where both are treated as property that can be casually separated. It is also about Kadar’s confused instinct to be a dominant personality in a society where he is of low caste, and those of higher caste do not hesitate to punish those below them who get ‘uppity’.” That’s more recapitulation than you will get in Legacy: Dusk.
Kadar (the narrator), a golden jackal, and Ahsin, a hyena, are homosexual lovers and indentured servants – read “slaves” – together. They have escaped from a plantation of the powerful Sura Clan in the desert nation of Mataa, following a slave revolt. Mataa is ruled by hyenas, but homosexuality is socially forbidden; especially for them, since the lower-caste Kadar is the dominant and the upper-caste Ahsin is the subordinate in their relationship. They can expect to be brutally tortured and then slaughtered together if they are recaptured. They and a few other Sura escapees had been taken in by a pride of free lionesses on one of Mataa’s oases, but bands of pursuers from the Sura Clan have made it too dangerous to stay there:
“We parted ways with Dela five nights ago, and we’ve been wandering ever since. She’d given us enough provisions to last at least a week, more than enough to make it out of the dunes, if we wanted to. But each time we neared a watering hole or a small town on the outskirts, we dipped our toes only to retreat back into the desert soon after. The pinpricks of civilization around the desert’s edge were bristling with hyenas from merchant caravans and plantations selling their wares, and we’re not sure how known we are to each of the clans, but we know there are hunters looking for us, and that’s reason enough to be cautious.” (p. 11)
They and the three other escapees – Raja (male cheetah), Anala (female, a non-Sura hyena), and Lavanya (lioness) – try to remain unrecaptured, and to find a Liberator who can remove their metal collars of ownership.
Kadar, Ahsin, Raja, and Lavanya are escaped indentured servants/slaves who just want to get rid of their collars and blend back into Mataa’s free citizens. Anala is a former Sura guard, working for their owners. They don’t know at first why she has joined the escaping slaves, just that she is from a warrior cult. The book is halfway over before she tells them fully. (All priestesses of their religion change their names to that of their warrior goddess, Anala.)
“‘Are we just going to… kill them?’ Ahsan asks, his tone possessing more strength than I thought it might, considering he’s speaking up to Anala. ‘Before we even know who they are?’
‘Do not insult me,’ Anala flicks her boxy ears back. ‘Do you not know by now who I am? What I stand for? The initial attack is simply intimidation. Threaten, convince them they have been caught unawares and stand no chance, and if they have weapons, seize them. We only fight these men in self-defense. They are not worthy combatants for the sake of combat. And no sneak attacks,’ she warns in Raja’s direction, narrowing her eyes. ‘Killing an opponent who has had no chance to defend themselves is just… murder. We are warriors.’ She clasps a paw over her heart, clenching it. I know it to be a clan salute, so I don’t reciprocate. No one else does, but I see Raja nodding.” (pgs. 30-31)
“‘For us,’ I point out. ‘You aren’t collared. You’ll forgive me for saying this Priestess, but you have no real investment in helping us find this man.’
‘I have seen you fight for your freedom, jackal,’ she looks around our camp. ‘All of you. Your ferocity is inspiring. There are grand battles before you, and devastation in your wake. I am absolutely certain Anala means for me to have found you, to join you, to be a part of the war to come.’
‘War?’ I narrow my eyes at her. ‘Since when is this a war? We want our freedom.’
‘How many others across Mataa share your sentiments?’ Anala asks in a low voice. ‘How many thousands… tens of thousands… perhaps hundreds of thousands? The melee at the Sura plantation was not the first of its kind, but you won. Do you know how unlikely that was?’” (pgs. 46-47)
“She knits her fingers together on the table, looking down at her rough palms. ‘The fight with the Aard—‘ She stops, looking to Ahsan’s disapproving expression, ‘with Lochan,’ she corrects quietly, ‘was the first real challenge I’d had in years. But after much soul-searching, I came to feel that while it would have been honorable to fall to a man of such skill in combat, it is not what the Goddess intended for me. Was there as a witness to Matron Sura’s cowardice, and moreover, to see how the world as a whole is changing.’
‘That’s true,’ Raja mutters, flexing his shoulder with a wince. ‘Those weapons are fucking terrifying. Stuff of myth. It’s no wonder they’re conquering the damn world with them.’
‘Soon, there will be no place for women like me,’ Anala says, grimly. ‘Anyone with a pistol or a rifle and the will to use it can stop the greatest warrior dead in their tracks with one pull of a finger. Anala’s power will wane as the true art of warfare is lost, and our Order will fade away with her. All this knowledge, I contended with for many weeks, after the raid on the Plantation. It was hard. It was the most lost I have ever felt.’” (pgs. 161-162)
The War Priestesses of Anala (all hyenas) believe they are meant to die in battle, fighting enemy warriors one-on-one with swords and knives. But the world is changing, with the introduction of gunpowder weapons that kill at a distance (which Anala considers cowardly), such as those the Sura Clan is importing for its guards. This Anala can foresee her religion shrinking and disappearing. She hopes to join Kadar and the four others to accomplish more than a personal escape. She wants them to lead a general slave revolution so she can die in glorious battle.
It’s crazy. But – the chances of four escaped slaves hiding in a large country with all authorities and professional escaped-slave hunters searching for them are practically zero. Can four ex-slaves and a death-or-glory warrior priestess foment a full-scale slave rebellion? Can Kadar, the narrator, take part in such a revolution while he and his gay lover Ahsin conduct their personal NSFW romance, and while the group first help Kadar search for his son, who he has not seen for four years and who should be six years old now?
About page 170, their search takes them from the desert of camels and caravans to the muggy, humid coast of jungles, seas, ships, and new animals like otters, langurs, and several that are unknown to Kadar.
Legacy: Dusk (cover by Rukis, plus seven illustrations, some of which are explicitly erotic) mixes scenes of Kadar’s and Ahsin’s romantic trysts, Kadar’s musings on his past and his thoughts on his desert slave culture (what would be the 16th/17th-century Middle East in our world), and the hiding, escapes, and battles of the group’s adventures. If you haven’t read Legacy: Dawn yet, you should start there. If you have, you know you want to read this last half of Legacy.
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