Three quick reviews for #FurryBookMonth
It’s October! You know what that means, don’t you?
Well, I guess that’s allowable as this is the very first #FurryBookMonth!
For more details, including special prices on many fine furry publications, head over here: https://furrywritersguild.com/furry-book-month/
In the meanwhile, here are three short reviews of some of the furry fiction I’ve read so far this month.
This is a book with an identity crisis, in a good way. On the one hand we have Theta, or at least that is the present name this character — a small fox with amnesia, dancing skills, and a hidden killer instinct – goes by. Theta’s a slave (and there are some seriously BDSMmy overtones to Theta and Theta’s home culture, though it’s never too explicit), a dancer, and tangled up in his ex-master’s plot to shake up interstellar politics. On the other we have Jale — a very recently ex-air hostess, of sorts, who is pulled into the middle of the conspiracy Theta’s master has launched, and forced into the captain’s chair of a stealthed warship in pursuit of Theta.
The book doesn’t quite know what it wants to be — steamy s&m? It never quite goes there, instead using the slave-owning culture of Brynton as both an ‘alien’ culture, driven by motives and cultural norms far different from our own, and as a critical piece in a larger puzzle of betrayals which feels very space opera. So is the book a furry space opera? This is closer to the mark, but again, not quite.
Despite a very rocky start, and a rather eclectic set of influences, this book’s identity crisis has a happy ending: a surprisingly substantial and rich feel to the setting. I hear the author will be putting together a sequel at some stage, and I’m interested to see how elements foreshadowed in Theta are carried forward.
A novella and collected short stories, brought to you by the author’s love of Africa. The titular novella, Huntress, is a charming coming of age story set in her fantasy-Africa. Leya’s a lioness with a dream, but she finds out her dream of what she wanted to be — one of the Karanja, an amazonian order of huntresses who prowl the savannah in search of ‘heavy meat’, large and dangerous game animals. Common lions are prohibited from hunting heavy meat both for practical reasons, such as safety, and the cultural — consideration for the souls of slain prey animals. To be Karanja is to be part of a sacred institution, but Leya’s caught between the sanctified hunt and its killing of prey, and the sanctified role of mother and healer. She, naturally, must do more than merely find a middleground between the two.
The other stories in this collection riff on similar themes, following characters briefly met on the sidelines in the main novella.
The first half of a two-parter, this is another book with an identity crisis, and, again, in a good way. Angharad’s a multi-species hybrid, the titular griffin, the product of an attempt to crossbreed and intermix in the search of bringing about a holy creature on earth, a living god of sorts, perfect in its interbreeding. These are the Godkin. Then there are those who breed ‘true’, ever-closer to a single species, breeding away their sapience and falling into savagery. Or so Angharad’s been led to believe. Assigned to govern a recently conquered province by the Godson, her society’s ruler by right of closeness to their ideal interbred purity, the book sets off on what’s largely a military tale of her march toward what will become her capitol. But, as with many things in this book, nothing’s what it seems.
In some ways the book comes across as light-hearted — and it is. But it’s also deadly serious, where the issue of the Godkins’ proper breeding is thoroughly explored, both in terms of class obligations, denied desires, and the consequences of rape. There’s steamy romance (mostly lesbian), there’s war, there’s class prejudice, there’s a touch of genocide, there’s a cute fox-lady and there’s a bit where Angharad uses her bird-like beak as a spear.
The book’s only problem is that it’s a two-parter, and shows it with a very abrupt ending. Thankfully the sequel (The Godson’s Triumph) is easily acquired!