Black Friday (The Valens Legacy), by Jan Stryvant – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Black Friday, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $9.99 (226         pages, Kindle $3.95.

Perfect Strangers, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $9.99 (240 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Over Our Heads, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, October 2017, trade paperback, $10.99 (252 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Head Down, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2017, trade paperback, $10.99 (250 pages), Kindle $3.99.

When It Falls, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, January 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (284 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Stand On It, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, January 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (256 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The first sentence of Black Friday is, “Sean looked both ways as he started across the street, not that there was much traffic during the day here at the University of Nevada, Reno campus this late in the day.” The third sentence is, “Mid-terms had just finished and he was pretty happy with his grades this semester, he’d finally gotten the hang of this whole ‘college’ thing, so what if it had taken him nearly three years!” Sean may be a college student, but I’ll bet he hasn’t been taking any writing courses.

Black Friday is the first novel in the six-volume The Valens Legacy. It is one of the five novels on the 2017 Ursa Major Awards ballot for Best Anthropomorphic Novel of the Year. It has 506(!) customer reviews currently on Amazon (most books are lucky to get 10 customer reviews), mostly five-star and 4-star reviews, although I agree more with the first cited, a two-star review: “Entirely avoidable grammatical mistakes, misuse of terms and DEAR LORD the treatment of adjectives!”

The other four Ursa Major finalists for Best Novel are Always Gray in Winter by Mark J. Engels, Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending by Mary E. Lowd, Kismet by Watts Martin, and The Wayward Astronomer by Geoffrey Thomas. I have seen all four of these discussed on furry-fandom websites. I have not seen any indication that anyone in furry fandom has been reading Black Friday. Where did its nominations come from?

Sean Valens has been a student at UN,R for three years. He is walking across the campus when someone tries to kidnap him.

“A van screeched to a halt in front of him, the side door sliding open as a man with his face covered jumped out and ran to help the guy Sean was now struggling with. When a hand came over his mouth as he started to yell, he bit down hard, enjoying the curse of pain from behind him, the guy being distracted enough for Sean to move to his right and slam his hand back into the man’s crotch.


Sean came to slowly, to the sound of gunfire. In the tight enclosure of the van, it was painfully loud. Grabbing for the hood over his head he gasped in pain, his right arm lit up in agony. Using his left he ripped the hood off and looking around it was complete and utter mayhem. He was covered in blood, and from the bone sticking out of his forearm, it was pretty clear that a lot of it was his.

The van was a complete wreck, the windshield was gone and from the blood and pieces of flesh on the broken jagged edges, he suspected someone had gone through it. There was now a telephone pole where the passenger’s seat used to be. The driver, who was either dead or unconscious, was slumped over the steering wheel, still belted into the seat.


But that wasn’t the part that was strange; it was what the man was shooting at.

A lion.

He was shooting at a lion.

But this lion didn’t look like any lion Sean had ever seen before, and again, living in Reno, he’d seen quite a few. No, this lion was huge, well wait, weren’t all lions huge?

It hit him, it was a lion-man, and just as the kidnapper fired another shot, the lion-man finally grabbed the arm that was holding the gun, and with a sickening wet sound he ripped it off.” (pgs. 5-8)

The writing may leave something to be desired, but you can’t say it lacks action. This is on the UN,R campus in broad daylight, remember.

Sean and the lion-man escape. The lion-man, who is a were-lion friend of Sean’s dead father, has been shot with silver bullets several times and is dying, so he hurriedly bites Sean and turns him into a were-lion with instantaneous healing abilities.

The rest of the book, and presumably the next five, are about Sean with the aura of an alpha-lion. Everyone knows that in lion prides, the males just relax and let the lionesses do all the work.

“‘Let’s go back to my place,’ Roxy said, grabbing his arm. She could see the conflict raging behind his eyes. His beast was starting to come out.

‘Are you sure?’ Sean asked, because he was totally unsure of himself right now, he knew if he got her alone, well, he was sure to get himself in trouble!

‘Yes,’ Roxy said dropping her voice to a more sultry timber, ‘I’m very sure.’” (p. 22)

Roxy Channing knows this because she’s already a werecheetah. They have mucho macho sex together. Roxy recruits her best friend, Jolene, a tantric (sex) witch, to be part of Sean’s pride.

“‘Also, lycans are looked down on by most magic users and the greater magical community.’

‘Why?’ Sean asked, and then gave her a little nip that made her gasp.

‘Because you’re animals, of course.’

‘Animals?’ Sean growled and gave another, harder, nip, enjoying the way Jolene arched her back and moaned.

‘Oh, they have a low opinion of tantric magic users, too; they say we’re all sluts and whores.’” (p. 110)

Roxy’s father, also a werecheetah, is resigned to her becoming part of Sean’s pride.

“‘Yeah, lions are like that. They fill their prides with kick ass women and then go absolutely mental if anyone even looks at them sideways.’


Her father shook his head. ‘You know that the different councils that oversee the wizards and other magic users don’t care for us, Honey. They’re not going to want to tell me anything about Sean’s father, and this definitely sounds like the kind of screwed up mess that they’d cause with their politicking.’” (pgs. 115-116)

It turns out that Sean’s father, who was mysteriously murdered long ago, was a rogue alchemist who was friendly to lycans (lycanthropes), and was killed to keep him from developing some magical benefit for them. Now Sean is within a week of his 21st birthday, and these councils of human wizards are afraid that Sean will inherit his father’s power and complete his work. The bad guys who try to kidnap or kill Sean are from the Council of Vestibulum and the rival Council of Gradatim.

The climax (which has a double meaning in this case) has Sean, Roxy, and Jolene attacked by lightning elementals:

“‘So,’ Sean asked, ‘does a lightning elemental look like a ball of static electricity?’


Sean pointed down out the doorway and into the area they’d just left. There coming down the staircase was what could only be described as a ball of lighting [sic].

‘Shit,’ Jolene said and pulling out a piece of chalk she started drawing on the floor. ‘Guys, I know this is rude, but if the two of you could start fucking like bunnies, that would be great.’” (pgs. 213-214)

Does Black Friday (cover by eBook Launch) have any female readers? It seems like such an adolescent male fantasy. The covers of some of the later volumes of The Valens Legacy show that Sean’s harem pride grows. Both Roxy and Sean shift into their humanoid cheetah and lion forms, and there are other lycans seen briefly such as a wereboar, that furry fans will not feel disappointed for that reason. Happy rutting!

Black Friday is a Ursa Major Award finalist! Have any furry fans read it?

Fred Patten

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