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Camouflage, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Camouflage, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Rukis.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, December 2017, trade paperback, $19.95 (293 pages), Kindle $9.99.

Camouflage is a spinoff of Kyell Gold’s popular five Dev and Lee novels. It features tiger footballer Devlin Miski’s cousin Danilo in a very different plot. That puts Camouflage into Gold’s Forrester University world.

Danilo is an adolescent English 19-year-old white tiger, currently studying at the Student Center of the Université Catholique in Tigue, Gallia, on the Saône River.

“Tigue, like many Gallic cities, contained many identities within her borders. The main campus of the Université Catholique lay on the edge of one of the newer parts of the city, a small suburb that had been built up twenty years ago, stretching sleek glass and elegant steel skyward. Old photos of the Université’s stately limestone buildings from before the expansion showed their red clay roofs over grey-white arches amidst of modest forests and fields. In the Presqu’Ile campus in the heart of old Tigue, ancient limestone and red clay dominated, broken up by cold grey churches, and through them, modern cars honked along the rain-slick street, though down on the riverbank, the babble of the crowd faded next to the light hiss of rain into the river.” (p. 13)

“Currently” is the year 2008, when Dev has just had his press conference in the States announcing that he’s homosexual. Danilo is much more private and withdrawn, and he’s not interested in sports. He hasn’t announced his homosexuality yet, although he does have a gay lover; Taye, a mouse Romany fellow student. (Actually he’s bisexual, but he doesn’t realize that yet.) Readers of Out of Position, the first Dev and Lee novel, will know that Dev was forced to “come out of the closet”. Danilo resents the notoriety-by-association that makes it harder to conceal his own sexual orientation.

“Gah, this was going to drive Danilo crazy. All because some cousin he’d only met a couple times decided to make his sexual preference public. Who did that, anyway? There was a question he could ask: why would you do that, declare that you’re gay in a big spectacle for everyone to see? Nobody needed to know. Maybe when you were a big football star, you lost sight of the fact that not everyone cares about your private life. Maybe you didn’t stop to think about the other people who would be affected by your actions, like your cousin across the ocean who had used you as a shield because he couldn’t play footer, and nobody in this country wanted to play cricket.” (pgs. 14-15)

Danilo’s sister Lena is thrilled by the news (“He’s the first professional athlete to come out. He’s a homosexual. Isn’t it wonderful?”), and is determined to tell everybody, which makes him feel even more exposed. He tries to get away from his classmates by retreating to a private spot he’s found, underneath an old stone bridge across the Saône.

And then suddenly, impossibly, he’s transported back in time to 1508 A.D.

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Dubiously Canon, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Dubiously Canon, by Rukis
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback, $19.95 (199 pages), e-book $9.95.

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)

“Synopsis: Tales from Red Lantern (that may or may not have happened)

A collection of stories chronicling the lives of characters in the Red Lantern universe, and their sexy misadventures.”

This collection contains five stories that originally appeared online. Four were written by reader demand to introduce two popular characters from throughout Rukis’ Red Lantern cartoon-art universe to each other, whether or not such a meeting would be possible by the story logic of this universe. So the stories are “dubiously canon”.

The four are “Language Barrier”, “Sinful Behavior”, “By Touch”, and “Ship to Ship”. All are narrated in the first person by one of the characters, most of whom are strangers to each other. Almost no names are mentioned. For readers familiar with Rukis’ Red Lantern art pages and her other novels, the descriptions of the characters will make it obvious who they are. In “Sinful Behavior”, for example, the wolfhound is Johannes Cuthbert from Red Lantern and Heretic and the bobcat is Shivah from the Off the Beaten Path trilogy. (That’s Shivah on the ship’s cannon on Rukis’ cover.) If you’re not familiar with Rukis’ Red Lantern universe – Mataa’s rocky coast in Legacy, the colony of Serwich in The Long Road Home, and so on – the locales and the characters won’t matter. All that really matters is that two healthy individuals come together, and erotic nature takes its course. M/m and m/f. Each of the four stories has a full-page NSFW illustration.

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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)

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Legacy: Dawn, by Rukis – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

rukis-legacy-dawnLegacy: Dawn, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2016, hardcover $29.95 (383 pages), trade paperback $19.95.

This is a mature content book.  Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region.

Legacy: Dawn is a standalone novel by Rukis, set in her world of Red Lantern (Sofawolf Press, March 2012) and Heretic (FurPlanet Productions, January 2013). Like the others, it takes place in a brutal semi-Renaissance anthropomorphic world.

Legacy: Dawn is narrated by Kadar, a low-caste jackal in a rigid stratified society ruled by a hyena aristocracy:

“I was born in a small village near the Hyronses river, to a family of laborers working in the brick kilns. My family, as many generations back as the walls of my home and the scrawlings of previous dead relatives could trace back, have always been laborers on the clay flats, working the brick kilns. We have little choice. There is no elevation from the labor caste. If you are born a laborer, and you live long enough to have children of your own, they too will be laborers. That’s simply how it is. How it has always been. How it will always be.

At least, that’s what I was raised to believe.” (p. 7)

Kadar only describes his childhood for the first four pages. After that he is an adult indentured servant, which is not practically different than a slave:

“He [Kadar’s guard] doesn’t hesitate to bring that up. ‘Your contract requires that you work,’ the hyena sniffs, ‘you can’t very well do that if you’re on the run. We’re legally obliged by our employers to keep you sedate and dutifully paying off your debt. By any means. Any injuries you sustain during an escape attempt are your cross to bear during the workday. The harvest doesn’t stop just because you went and got yourself damaged.’” (pgs. 11-12)

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The Long Road Home, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

The-Long-Road-HomeThe Long Road Home, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2015, hardcover $29.95 (403 pages), trade paperback $19.95, electronic edition $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 final volume of the trilogy begun in Off the Beaten Path and continued in Lost On Dark Trails. Those were first published as trade paperbacks; now all three are available as $29.95 hardcovers.

The trilogy follows Shivah, the bobcat narrator, a Carvecian native “squaw” in an anthropomorphic world roughly similar to late 18th-century North America (the Amurescan colonies in Carvecia fought a war for their independence and formed the United Carvecian Nations a little over a generation earlier); and her two companions, Ransom, a coyote trapper, and Puck (Puquanah), a blind silver fox shaman. Shivah is on a quest for vengeance against Methoa’nuk (also a bobcat), Shivah’s ex-husband, a cruel native warrior who has joined a band of raiders that have wiped out Shivah’s tribe and now threaten the new UCN peoples along the Eastern Seaboard. Lost On Dark Trails went in a major new direction from Off the Beaten Path, so it should be no surprise that The Long Way Home does the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Beaten Path, by Rukis – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Off the Beaten Path, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2014, trade paperback $19.95 (385 pages).

(publisher’s advisory):
“This is a mature content book.  Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region.” 

Rukis_OTBP_web“When I turned thirteen years of age, the village elder told me I had become a woman. When I had turned fourteen years of age, my mother told me I had become a burden. When I had turned fifteen years of age, my father told me I had become a wife. He had been paid [by] a man from the Anukshen to take me away from everything I knew and every person I cared for, to become his third wife.” (p. 9)

This is one of those books that is almost impossible to review without giving away spoilers. Basically, except for the anthropomorphic-animal and fantasy-world aspects, the setting is North America shortly after the British colonies along the Eastern Coast have won their independence. Shivah, the narrator (bobcat), is a young woman of a native tribe in a valley beyond the “Otherwolf” lands. She has only known two tribes, her own Katoshen and the neighboring Anukshen. They barely tolerate each other, grudgingly trading together. Both are extremely patriarchal, treating women as little more than slaves and baby-making machines. Shivah is married against her will to Methoa’nuk, an arrogant and brutal Anukshen Honored Warrior for two horses and a brick of salt. Despite her attempts to be a “good wife”, she disgraces him (or maybe he just blames his disgrace on her). Methoa kills their year-old son, and encourages the Anukshen to stone her to death. She recovers consciousness weeks later, having been nursed back to health by two wandering trappers from faroff differing tribes, Ransom, a tall coyote, and Puck (Puquanath Roatok), a blind white fox medicine man who “sees” with his ears:

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