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Tag: novel

Love Match, Book 2 (2010-2012) by Kyell Gold – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Love Match, Book 2 (2010-2012) by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Rukis.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, February 2018, trade paperback, $19.95 (316 pages), e-books $9.99.

This is book 2 of Gold’s Love Match trilogy. Book 1, titled just Love Match, was published last year in January 2017, and the final volume will presumably be published in early 2019.

Gold’s Love Match trilogy is a loose follow-up to his five “Dev and Lee” novels, set in his Forester University world; but its theme is tennis instead of football. Young (14 years old) Rochi “Rocky” N’Guwe, a black-backed jackal from the African nation of Lunda, is brought to the States with his mother in 2008 on a scholarship from the Palm Gables Tennis Center, a leading tennis college. During the two years of Book 1, Rocky matures, realizes his homosexuality, and develops a romance with his best friend, Marquize Alhazhari, a cheetah from Madiyah. He is horrified to discover that his younger sister Ori, to whom he is devoted and who has been left behind in Lunda, is being betrothed by their aunt in an arranged marriage. Rocky tries to earn enough money to bring Ori to Palm Gables. At the end of Book 1, Rocky and Marquize leave the Palm Gables Center and are thrust into the world of professional tennis.

And that’s about all that I can say about Book 2 without giving away major spoilers. There is a six-page Prologue set in the present (2015), during a climactic game between Rocky and his ongoing rival Braden Longacre, before getting into the main story. It establishes that both will get into tennis’ top ranks. But for the three years of Book 2, 2010 to 2012 – well, nothing much happens.

The story is narrated by Rocky N’Guwe, and it’s about him growing up from 16 to 18 years old in the environment of professional tennis. His friendship/gay romance with Marquize ebbs and flows. Rocky’s mother, who at first is always present as his chaperone and coach, leaves him to the care of a professional tennis coach while she concentrates on getting Ori into the States. He briefly crosses paths with Braden Longacre. Rocky, under his coach’s care, travels to tennis tournaments in several cities and develops new friendships among the other tennis players. In his free time on his own, he explores gay bars and clubs.

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Raid on Sullin, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Raid on Sullin, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, October 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (233 [+ 9] pages), Kindle $4.99.

Raid on Sullin is #2 in the Packmasters series. #1, The Relics of Thiala, was reviewed here last April. I concluded that review, “But this is space opera, not hard science s-f. This review covers the first 50 pages of the 190-page novel (cover by Darbaras, a.k.a. Dávid László Tóth). What will Cat, Ferret, Bear, Wolf, and Ana find on Thiala and the sleazy Vandal space station? Since this is space opera, expect mucho dramatic action and weapons fire.”

I’m a sucker for good space opera, and The Relics of Thiala is great furry space opera. I’ve been looking forward to the sequel, and Raid on Sullin is not a disappointment. I recommend starting with The Relics of Thiala, but Raid on Sullin has a very good “What happened so far” for those who don’t want to bother. Roughly, Cat (the narrator), Ferret, Bear, and Wolf are four bestiae, bioengineered anthro-animen in a far-future interstellar community. The bestiae are considered beneath contempt by most humans, and were enslaved by a cult called the Packmasters. The Packmasters were apparently all killed by the rest of humanity in a civil war a generation ago. Ana, a mistreated young adopted orphan, escapes with the help of Cat. They gather three other bestiae and discover that Ana has Packmaster powers, but instead of using them to dominate the others, they form a pack of friends with a telempathetic bond under Ana’s leadership, Cat’s guidance, Bear’s piloting, and Wolf’s muscle. They steal a luxury space yacht, the Lollipop, belonging to a corrupt human Senator, Viscount Tomori, and flee to Vandal, a distant space station towards the Fringe of the galaxy that is (what else?) “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”. But Tomori comes after them. The book ends with Tomori and Bear dead, and the others unsure of how Vandal’s laws will treat them.

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Legends of Heraldale, by Brian McNatt – book review by Fredd Patten

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Legends of Heraldale, by Brian McNatt
Chickasha, OK, The author, January 2017, trade paperback, $13.95 (243 pages), e-book $3.95.

Legends of Heraldale is very much a stereotypical Young Adult fantasy. Its appeal will be to those who want to see a world where all the most familiar animals of mythology – gryphons (griffins), unicorns, hippogryphs, dragons, cockatrices, wyverns, sphinxs, minotaurs, salamanders, and mermaids – live, including some that I have never heard of like a rockodile and zakarians. But there are many curious aspects to it.

A Prologue tells of the last battle of the First Expansion War between the unicorns and the gryphons:

“For a moment, night turned to day, illuminating the two clashing forces. Through the woods to the canyon’s west massed the unicorns of the Avalon Empire, hooves beating the earth and snow as they galloped among the trees. From their horns streaked bolts of red magic at the many-towered fortress across the canyon, blasting chunks of stone from the high walls and tearing through the gryphon defenders.

From the fortress walls and towers the gryphons rained down flocks of arrows and crossbow bolts in return, each weapon striking true.” (p. 1)

Gryphons are usually thought of as quadrupedal. I have a hard time envisioning them shooting bows & arrows, and firing crossbows.

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The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
NYC, Alfred A. Knopf, October 2017, hardcover, $22.99 (449 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $11.99.

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
London, Penguin Random House Children’s/David Fickling, October 2017, hardcover, £20.00 (560 pages), Kindle £9.99.

This is Pullman’s long-awaited followup to his multiple award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. Its volume 1 is known as Northern Lights in Britain and was published in July 1995. It was retitled The Golden Compass in the U.S. and not published until March 1996. A little over twenty years later, both the American and British editions of The Book of Dust are published simultaneously and with the same title. Yet they are not physically identical. The two editions are typeset separately, with American and British spellings and terminology as appropriate, and the British edition is over a hundred pages longer. The American edition has almost none of the interior illustrations by Wormell, which are just chapter-heading drawings that are frankly not worth missing.

It is not a sequel. The main character in His Dark Materials is the young woman Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pantalaimon. Lyra is 11 and 12 years old, not yet an adolescent, and her dæmon can still take any male animal, bird, or insect form, which he does. At the conclusion of the trilogy Lyra becomes an adolescent, and Pan’s form is fixed as a talking pine marten. But The Book of Dust is Lyra’s story before His Dark Materials. In La Belle Sauvage she is only a baby.

They aren’t really talking-animal novels. The Book of Dust is set in that alternate Earth where everybody has a dæmon, a talking animal personification of their soul, accompanying them. The dæmon cannot stray too far from its person.

The protagonist of La Belle Sauvage is Malcolm Polstead, the potboy at his father’s inn on the shore of the River Thames at Oxford:

“Malcolm was the landlord’s son, an only child. He was eleven years old, with an inquisitive, kindly disposition, a stocky build, and ginger hair. He went to Ulvercote Elementary School a mile away, and he had friends enough, but he was happiest on his own, playing with his dæmon, Asta, in their canoe, on which Malcolm had painted the name LA BELLE SAUVAGE. […]

Like every child of an innkeeper, Malcolm had to work around the tavern, washing dishes and glasses, carrying plates of food or tankards of beer, retrieving them when they were empty. He took the work for granted. The only annoyance in his life was a girl called Alice, who helped with washing the dishes. Se was about sixteen, tall and skinny, with lank dark hair that she scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. […] He ignored that for a long time, but finally rat-formed Asta leapt at Alice’s scrawny jackdaw dæmon, knocking him into the washing-up water and then biting and biting the sodden creature till Alice screamed for pity. She complained bitterly to Malcolm’s mother, who said, ‘Serves you right. I got no sympathy for you. Keep your nasty mind to yourself.’” (p. 2)

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Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder. Maps by the author.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2017, trade paperback, $15.00 ([3 +] 397 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Reading Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe is an exercise in frustration. There is a detailed map of the world of Amarthia, but it’s so reduced as to be illegible. There is considerable exciting action, but it’s wrapped in such extensive descriptions as to become almost boring.

The beginning of the novel is what would be a tense dramatic sequence anywhere else. A team of six big-game hunters, loaded for monsters, moves into a secretive nighttime kill mission in a deserted slum district in Kairran, the capital of the desert nation of Pytan. Yet it goes on for forty pages!

“Vincenzo Nieves only averaged 165 centimetres, but the long ears poking out through the crown of his worn white fedora with its faded black band made him appear much taller. As he hop-stepped along, they bobbed and swayed, twitching now and again like electrified antennae.

The jackrabbit had a melodious baritone honeyed by the southern strains of upper-class Banton, far away in the bayous of the West United Kingdoms. Or at least it would be melodious if it was not constantly ringing in the ears of his teammates.

‘So there I was, just enjoyin’ a nice breakfast salad. Actually, it kinda reminded me of the carver’s salad they serve at this quaint café in Clairmount, but never mind. I’m sittin’ there, and in from the kitchen walks this absolutely gorgeous leopard girl, I mean you’ve never seen spots like she had. She had this cute little bob cut that showed off her earrings and a cute top that … well …’ He trailed off with a lascivious gleam in his golden-brown eyes, but no one was actually paying attention to him.

Most of his stories tended to end this way. Only Vince’s appetite for food rivalled his appetite for women. He was not the guy with a girl in every town; he was the guy with a dozen girls in every town. Still, Mohan [the tiger leader] had to admit that, for all his boasting, at least he kept the stories relatively clean. And his behaviour wasn’t entirely without cause; he was a handsome fellow who kept his wavy blond long-fur trimmed short and proper, as befitted a southern gentleman, and had dyed and groomed the fur on his chin into a matching goatee.” (pgs. 10-11)

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The Fox of Richmond Park, by Kate Dreyer – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Fox of Richmond Park, by Kate Dreyer
London, Unbound, July 2017, trade paperback, £11.99 (287 pages), Kindle $1.99.

“If the Animals of Farthing Wood had lived in London and hated each other a little bit more, their story may have been a lot like this one.

‘Get out of the way or get an antler up the arse, yeah? I’m sick of these glorified donkeys.’” (blurb)

Almost all the (British) reviewers have compared this British novel to Colin Dann’s 1979 classic The Animals of Farthing Wood. In it, the woodland community of Farthing Wood is paved over by human developers. The wildlife inhabitants, led by Fox, undertake a dangerous trek to the safety of a distant nature reserve.

The Animals of Farthing Wood is a Young Adult novel. All the animals act together in brotherhood. No one eats anybody.

The Fox of Richmond Park is an Adult novel. Richmond Park is a large wildlife park in London that Wikipedia says is known for its deer. In this talking-animal novel, the deer are the arrogant elite class of the Park’s fauna. When the deer decide they want the lakeside area where several foxes have had their dens for generations, they just tell the foxes to move out. Most accept the order without protest. Vince does not.

“‘Why I should leave,’ Vince snarled as he prowled back and forth in the semi-circle of bare earth that marked the entrance to his den, black ears flat to his head, ‘just because some over-entitled deer want to be near the lake?’

‘It’s not like that. And you can dig a new, bigger den in a day or two. I don/t see what the problem is. Other animals have moved without a fuss.’ Edward tilted his antlers towards the small skulk of foxes several leaps away, who had gathered at the edge of the woodland to wait for the sun to set. ‘And your friends are being very cooperative.’

‘That’s because you’ve told them a load of scat about how great the cemetery is.’ Vince said, the copper fur on his back bristling. He’d had every intention of talking this through civilly with the stag, but his temper had other ideas. Just like last time.” (p. 1)

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Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer
NYC, MCD Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2017, hardcover $26.00 (323 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $12.99.

Borne is a science-fiction novel, not a furry novel. That’s Borne on the cover. No furry author has ever featured an animal quite like him – if he is an animal.

“WHAT I FOUND AND HOW I FOUND IT

I found Borne on a sunny gunmetal day when the giant bear Mord came roving near our home. To me, Borne was just salvage at first. I didn’t know what Borne would mean to us. I couldn’t know that he would change everything.

Borne was not much to look at that first time: dark purple and about the size of my fist, clinging to Mord’s fur like a half-closed stranded sea anemone. I found him only because, beacon-like, he strobed emerald green across the purple every half minute or so.

Come close, I could smell the brine, rising in a wave, and for a moment there was no ruined city around me, no search for food and water, no roving gangs and escaped, altered creatures of unknown origin or intent. No mutilated, burned bodies dangling from broken streetlamps.” (p. 3)

Mord, the giant, floating, ever-hungry bear, is almost as fascinating.

“No one, not even Wick, knew why the Company hadn’t seen the day coming when Mord would transform from their watchdog to their doom – why they hadn’t tried to destroy Mord while they still held that power. Now it was too late, for not only had Mord become a behemoth, but, by some magic of engineering extorted from the Company, he had learned to levitate, to fly.

By the time I had reached Mord’s resting place, he shuddered in earthquake-like belches of uneasy sleep, his nearest haunch rising high above me. Even on his side, Mord rose three stories. He was drowsy from sated bloodlust; his thoughtless sprawl had leveled a building, and pieces of soft-brick rubble had mashed out to the sides, repurposed as Mord’s bed in slumber.” (pgs. 4-5)

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The Tower and the Fox by Tim Susman – review by Summercat

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Summercat for this guest post.

The Tower and the Fox is the Kyell Gold novel I’ve been waiting for him to write for years, and it has been worth the wait.

Like many people, I was entranced with The Prisoner’s Release and the rest of the Volle stories, but most of Kyell Gold’s work did not resonate with me, as he primarily wrote for the genre of “Coming of Age Gay Romance”. There’s nothing wrong with the genre, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world in the context of romance (and lots of gay sex) certainly can speak to multiple generations of furries.

Only, I never had those struggles and I tend to skip sex scenes in my furry novels. The prevalent nature of the genre has turned me off to a lot of written Furry fiction, even to the point I hesitate to read what I know would be clean. Yet even then, I enjoyed Kyell’s worldbuilding and storytelling. I felt Shadow of the Father was a fine novel that would have been improved by the removal of the sexual content, and had hoped to one day see Kyell’s skill turned towards a more traditional fantasy.

There’s not even a romance subplot in The Tower and The Fox, and the story is stronger for it.

The Tower and The Fox takes place in an alternate and magical history, set sometime after the Napoleonic Wars have ended. The North American colonies remain part of the Empire, with the only mention of a historical figure being John Adams. However, this is a world of humans, and the Calatians – magically-created animal-human hybrids – are a minority, and an ill-treated one at that, for many humans see them as naught but beasts, with many rights denied to them.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain; A Novel, by Garth Stein – review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Art of Racing in the Rain; A Novel, by Garth Stein
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, May 2008, hardcover $23.95 (321 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

“Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And when I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively. In order to make my point understood without question. I have no words I can rely on because, much to my dismay, my tongue was designed long and flat and loose, and therefore, is a horribly ineffective tool for pushing food around my mouth while chewing, and an even less effective tool for making clever and complicated polysyllabic sounds that can be linked together to form sentences. And that’s why I’m here now waiting for Denny to come home – he should be here soon – lying on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor in a puddle of my own urine.” (p. 1)

The narrator is Enzo, a mixed-breed retriever, the pet dog of Denny Swift, a human retired racecar driver. Enzo is dying of canine old age, but he is looking forward eagerly to his death. He has educated himself by watching television with Denny, and has accepted a documentary on Mongolian belief in reincarnation as reality. He believes that when he dies as a dog, he will be reborn as a human and will become Denny’s best friend.

The novel is Enzo’s autobiography.

“I remember the heat on the day I left the farm. Every day was hot in Spangle, and I thought the world was just a hot place because I never knew what cold was about. I had never seen rain, didn’t know much about water. Water was the stuff in the buckets that the older dogs drank, and it was the stuff the alpha man sprayed out of the hose and into the faces of dogs who might want to pick a fight. But the day Denny arrived was exceptionally hot. My littermates and I were tussling around like we always did, and a hand reached into the pile and found my scruff and suddenly I was dangling high in the air.

‘This one,’ a man said.” (p. 11)

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon and Dean Hale – review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. Illustrated by Bruno Mangyoku.
NYC, Marvel Press, February 2017, hardcover $13.99 (324 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

The Marvel Comics Group is having hardcover novelizations written of most of its high-profile super-heroes such as Iron Man, for the 9-to-12 age group. Marvel does not go in for animal heroes, so the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and her 300 squirrels are about the only ones who would qualify for interest to furry fans. New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale specializes in romantic novels for adolescent girls and young women, many in collaboration with her husband, Dean Hale.

This novel recounts the beginning of Squirrel Girl’s career, written in a breezy teenager’s diary style. The comic book stories began in 1991 with her as a 21-year-old college student, but here 14-year-old Doreen Green has just moved with her parents from Southern California to Shady Oaks, New Jersey. “Who runs the world? Squirrels!” Doreen may be prejudiced because she was born with a bushy squirrel’s tail. Otherwise she looks like any young teenage girl, except that she’s super-strong and has retractable claws and “her two front teeth were a little longer than their neighbors. She had to gnaw on things to keep them from getting even longer. Things like logs.” (p. 2) Maple logs are her favorite.

No reason is given for her having a squirrel’s tail, but Hey! this is the Marvel Universe. Doreen used to see She-Hulk while she lived in Los Angeles, and now she’s looking forward to seeing Thor and the other Avengers who live in nearby New York City.

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