Tomori’s Legacy, by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Tomori’s Legacy, by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2018, trade paperback, $15.99 (165 pages), Kindle $4.99.
Tomori’s Legacy is the Brackhaus’ Packmasters #3. I reviewed #1, The Relics of Thiala, and #2, Raid on Sullin, favorably. This #3 is the shortest, but it’s no less rip-roaring, space-opera fun. The cover, again by Darbaras (Dávid László Tóth), features Cat, the series’ narrator.
The Packmasters series is set in a far-future interstellar community. Cat (the narrator), Ferret, Bear, and Wolf are four bestiae, bioengineered anthro-animen in hiding, led by Ana, a young human with semi-suppressed Packmaster powers. The bestiae are considered beneath contempt by most humans, and were enslaved by an arrogant cult called the Packmasters who used them to try to conquer the galaxy. The Packmasters were apparently all killed by the rest of humanity in a bloody civil war a generation ago, and the bestiae were all slaughtered except for a few that powerful humans kept as pets. Ana, a mistreated adopted orphan now in her early twenties, escapes with the help of Cat. They gather three other bestiae and discover that Ana has Packmaster powers; but instead of her 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 (plus the mostly-childlike Ferret). 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 Relics of Thiala ends with Tomori and Bear dead. In Raid on Sullin, the remaining four form a tighter family, Bear is replaced as pilot by Ferret, and they are joined by Ten, a battle-hardened gazelle who is no less deadly for being a herbivore.
To quote the beginning of the blurb for Tomori’s Legacy, “Viscount Tomori is long dead, but his affairs just don’t want to rest in peace.
[…] Now Ana and her pack are part of the power struggle among the crime lords of the Rim, and have to return to Darkside before things get out of hand.”
The climax of The Relics of Thiala is the bestiae and Ana stealing Viscount Tomori’s space yacht and fleeing to Vandal, a criminally-owned space station; Tomori’s coming after them; and the fight in which he and Bear are killed. Raid on Sullin begins with the authorities of Vandal ruling that they acted in legitimate self-defense, and “to the victor belongs the spoils”. Ana, Cat, Ferret, and Wolf are the new owners of the Lollipop. They are immediately sidetracked into the adventure of Raid on Sullin.
Tomori’s Legacy begins with their return (with Ten, the gazelle) to Vandal, where they are stunned to learn that they weren’t given only the Lollipop. They are the new owners of all Tomori’s property. Since he had run his clan as his personal possession, they now own his criminal businesses, including a shitload of thugs and schemers who each want to take over and become the new boss of Clan Tomori.
Yuki Tomori, the Viscount’s niece, spells it out for them:
“‘Maybe you are not aware of the extent of the Syndicate’s aggravation with us. They have cut off all our business connections and frozen our accounts. Our products are stacking up with no way for us to sell. We simply can’t afford to have you killed. If this continues just a few more weeks, Clan Tomori will cease to exist. And you will walk away empty-handed.’
‘I see,’ Ana said slowly. Judging from the way I sensed her thoughts racing, she was scrambling to understand what was going on as well. ‘And what do you propose?’
‘Come back to Darkside. Assume control of Clan businesses. The Syndicate has made it clear that they will accept nothing less as proof that you have indeed claimed your due. Only then will they stop blocking us.’” (p. 18)
“Unaware of the fact that we were just now catching up to what she was talking about, Miss Tomori continued. ‘I will be honest with you: Comtessa Tomori, the late Viscount’s wife, has ordered me to agree tp anything you might demand and promise you everything to lure you back to Darkside, but she will be plotting against you the moment you step off your ship. The idea of losing control of the Clan to an outsider infuriates her to no end. She hated the Viscount as much as everyone else did, but she obviously wants to lead the Clan herself now and one day pass it on to her son, Kato. You have been to Darkside. You know what a cesspit of human refuse it is.’ She smiled slyly. ‘I, however, have only to gain under your leadership. The Viscount had my mother and father, who was his brother, killed when I was very young. He only kept me around as a curiosity and even now I am used as the expendable sacrifice by being sent to talk to you. I know that the Comtessa fully expected you to have me killed as her first messenger. So I pledge to you my loyalty and swear to serve you.’
What a dangerous viper. If I had needed any more convincing that this woman could not be trusted, this would have been it.
‘Can I have the hot chocolate with ice cream?’ Ferret interrupted Miss Tomori’s scheming.” (p. 19)
Ana and the bestiae, despite their misgivings, go to Darkside, a deadly desert world. They plan to stay only long enough to free the bestiae there under criminal gangs’ control, although they can certainly use the profits from Clan Tomori’s businesses. They have some advantages that the Clan doesn’t know about, such as their telempathetic bond, Ferret’s apparent naïve childishness (now mostly an act), and Cat’s pretending to be a barely-controlled predator:
“At least I looked the part of [a] dangerous criminal. The various scrapes I had been in during our recent adventures had taught me that I needed better protection, so I had spent some of our hard-earned money buying some pieces of armour. Granted, I had picked them more for how cool they made me look than how good they actually were. The armguards were useful for storing additional knives and the new jacket had a deep hood that hid my ears and with a little squinting made me look like some sort of sinister assassin. Being an all-black cat would have helped a lot, but my pink nose and the cheerful colour of my fur were things I’d just have to live with.” (p. 36)
What will Ana and the others encounter on Darkside? Can Yuki Tomori be trusted, or will she betray them – and how? What unexpected surprises will Cat and the other bestiae get? Tomori’s Legacy ends on a cheerful note, but with the reader looking forward to Packmasters #4.
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