Fellowship of the Ringtails, by Angela Oliver – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

ringFellowship of the Ringtails, by Angela Oliver. Illustrated, map.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2013, trade paperback $15.49 ([iii +] 406 [+ 9] pages), Kindle 99¢.

Technically the title of this book is Lemurs (A Saga). Book One: The Fellowship of the Ringtails. But the cover doesn’t say so; Amazon.com doesn’t say so; and I’m pretty sure that nobody else is likely to say so, either.

This title makes it sound like either a parody of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or an unimaginative imitation of it. Fortunately it’s neither. Its opening paragraph is:

“‘There will be others, Fiantrana,’ the soft voice drew the young lemur from her reverie. She turned her gaze from the great stone tomb: the final resting place for her ancestors, relatives, and most recently, her own son. There was a deep ache inside her: the memory of his tiny, fragile body as she had cradled him to her breast, watching his life breathe out of him.” (p.1)

Angela Oliver, of Christchurch, New Zealand, is devoted to lemurs. In a two-page “Why Lemurs?” afterword, she explains that she was introduced to lemurs while working at a local zoo park, went to Madagascar where lemurs come from in 2007, and fell in love with the whole island-nation. The Fellowship of the Ringtails is an adventure fantasy featuring anthropomorphized lemurs in their Kingdom of Madigaska, a fictionalized Kingdom of Madagascar before it became a French colony in 1897.

An important fact is that there is not just one kind of lemur. There are many different species, roughly divided into the sifakas that are almost entirely arboreal, and the “true lemurs” (which she has dubbed the hazosaka because it sounds better for a fantasy novel) that can walk on the ground, including the famous ringtailed lemurs. For The Fellowship of the Ringtails, she has made the sifakas into the royal family and the aristocracy of Madigaska, while the hazosaka are the commoners.

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