The Captain’s Oath, by Rick Griffin — book review by Gre7g Luterman

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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Welcome to Gre7g Luterman, science fiction author reviewed here. Find him online at his site or Twitter.

The Captain’s Oath is book two in an epic science fiction trilogy about a struggle against oppression, featuring illustrations by author and artist Rick Griffin. [Full disclosure: I’ve been a beta reader on this project since the trilogy was a novel-length draft.]

What would you do to escape from slavery? It’s not as simple a question as it might seem. For although the crew of the White Flower II are definitely slaves, it’s not like someone stands over them with a whip, watching them pick cotton. The krakun (an alien race that look like dragons) indoctrinate the geroo (an alien race that look like anthropomorphic kangaroos) from birth into believing that they are willing employees. Additionally, they let the geroo live in just enough comfort to keep the crew from considering any form of revolt.

Ateri, the captain of the White Flower II, has been considering escape his whole life, and when a ship of pirates offers him a chance at freedom (a do-or-die offer, admittedly), they enter into a conspiracy that can only lead to freedom or the execution of every man, woman, and child aboard. The plan has three parts, which roughly correspond to the books in the trilogy.

Step 1: Trick the krakun into believing that a newly discovered planet can be terraformed into a new home world.

Step 2: Lay low while the krakun bring in a terraformer (the single most expensive machine in the known galaxy).

Step 3: Steal the transformer and sell it.

The first book in The Final Days of the White Flower II trilogy was called Traitors, Thieves, and Liars (published February 2019). It followed Gert and a pair of pirates as they snuck aboard a krakun survey ship to plant doctored data.

The second book, The Captain’s Oath (published February 2021), largely abandons Gert to follow the ship’s science officer, Tesko. I’ll admit that I was leery of this decision initially, but as this book has become my favorite novel of all time (furry or mainstream), clearly it was a good choice on Mr. Griffin’s part.

In addition to the krakun and geroo, this book features a number of geordian (aliens that look like anthropomorphic housecats) and ringel (aliens that look like anthropomorphic ring-tailed lemurs). Action wise, the story focuses on Tesko being abducted and escaping from the geordians, the geroo officers putting Captain Ateri on trial for treason, and the krakun trying to execute various geroo.

All three of these adventures are gripping and will keep you biting your nails, but for me, the best thing about this 490-page novel is the characters! Tesko is wonderful. She’s recently lost her husband and struggles with alcoholism, but she’s so nice, so caring and competent! She is more passionate about the mission than anyone, and seeing her struggle against impossible odds is what makes this book a keeper.

Furry-wise, this series does a great job of letting the reader imagine s/he is a geroo. There’s plenty of smells, physiological differences between them and humans, and even psychological differences to enjoy. There’s no humans in any of these stories, so it’s easy to get immersed.

The books are written for adults but are not erotica. The Captain’s Oath does contain a sex scene, but it’s tastefully done. There is also alcohol in these books, and though I don’t think there’s any smoking in this book, I know there was in the first of the series.

The books have a good amount of humor, neat science fiction, lots of thrilling adventure, and since Mr. Griffin is a talented artist, he illustrated them too. In addition to the covers, each book includes a bunch of full-page illustrations that are every bit as enjoyable as the story itself.

This trilogy is set in a larger universe known as the Hayven Celestia which includes five other novels and an anthology of short stories by various authors. There is some overlap between these stories, and Captain Ateri, for example, makes an appearance in several. However, this trilogy stands alone, and readers shouldn’t feel the need to read any other stories first before jumping into Traitors, Thieves, and Liars.

If you like furry sci-fi, you really owe it to yourself to take the trilogy home. I know I can’t wait for the third book to complete my set!

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