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.
The story’s narration follows Kip, a fox Calatian, as he enters the Prince George’s College of Sorcery to be the first Calatian sorcerer. He is eventually joined by his otter friend Coppy, and makes friends with other students, including Emily, who wishes to be the first female sorcerer.
The book covers the time between the student’s admission and the selection of the Masters for their apprentices. We see Kip and his friends have to deal with challenges from other students, their teachers, and their own personal issues, with the selection of students near the end.
The construction of the plot was nothing new or unexpected, yet Kyell’s work on polishing makes it seem fresh. In addition, the different struggles and prejudices the characters each face are displayed wonderfully without being preachy. The novel ends in a set up for a sequel while still tying many loose ends. There are unanswered questions remaining, but I was left knowing that the characters would get to them in time rather than wonder if they had forgotten.
In the end, I lost track of time while reading The Tower and The Fox, and didn’t put the book down until I finished it. If you are a fan of Kyell Gold’s work or interested in a Furry Colonial Fantasy, I definitely suggest picking up a copy.
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