Michael Payne's latest book is a bit unusual. It's broken into four uneven parts, each of which contains several short or very short stories, each ofMichael Payne's latest book is a bit unusual. It's broken into four uneven parts, each of which contains several short or very short stories, each of which is preceded by quote from some work from that world. These smaller stories are not titled, and the table of contents does not refer to them, but just gives a couple passages from each part, along with the page it appears on.
So it's not really conceived and structured as a short story collection, even though it technically is one. The volume is a publication of a bunch of stories that has been available in in bits and pieces for decades, and has gone from being about the anthropomorphic town of Ottersgate to centering on Rat.
As a unified set of stories, it's all told from Rat's point of view, except for the first story, which details his mysterious rescue as a small child from some large fire by one of the Curials (gods). The later parts of the book answer the mystery raised here, and also goes some into the nature of the Curials, but largely the book is a 'fish out of water' story, with the orphaned Rat growing up among squirrels and mice, and not quite fitting in (somewhat literally; the animals here have human intelligence, but the same forms we know, and somehow have buildings, and clothes, and tea—it doesn't bear thinking about too hard—so Rat is larger than many of the people he deals with), and faces persecution from many deeply prejudiced people.
There's also a bit of travelogue to the book. Rat spends some years on the road at one point, and you get glimpses of plenty of other towns and societies. And just what is shown of Ottersgate itself is enough to make you realize the iceberg hiding beneath the surface of this book is massive indeed. Payne has an expansive world worked out, and we're getting bare glimpses of it.
Its structure means Rat's Reputation does not have the tightest writing you'll see, but each story works on its own, and while building the whole. I recommend it, and if you wonder just where some of the secondary characters disappear to near the end, I also recommend Payne's earlier book, The Blood Jaguar. Both are good furry fantasy novels....more
This is part two of two of Hogarth's Godkindred Saga, and I wish I'd leafed through the first book again before reading it like I had planned. This isThis is part two of two of Hogarth's Godkindred Saga, and I wish I'd leafed through the first book again before reading it like I had planned. This is so tied to the first book that after a short prologue it picks up with chapter 27. So, yes, do not pick this up without getting the first book (and conversely, don't pick it up without this! it is one story in two covers).
That said, it's an excellent book. There is a bit of change in direction at the very beginning, avoiding the action that was promised at the end of the first part. Past that, it follows on very naturally, and continues to explore a number of themes, including colonialism, loyalty and religion.
I really like the world she's set up here, and while it would be possible to see other stories set here, I get a feeling that this will be it. It is set up to explore certain ideas, which this story then does. The long denouement not only shows the break up of the group that had assembled as they go their separate ways to rebuild the political world, but explains those few things that were inexplicable. With 'reality' as well defined as it is at the end, it seems this setting has done all that Hogarth has intended.
But while the world is bounded by the story and vice versa, it is about people. The characters are all well-realized, especially the viewpoint character of Angharad.
The one problem I do have is that the physical descriptions are a bit lacking. There's a great variety of species, with a large number of cross-breeds, and it can be hard to put together a comprehensive picture of what some people look like easily (the author's art is a big help here).
So, don't get either book without the other, but do get them!...more
Sadly, there are probably only a few hundred copies of this series in existence.
Empires is the collected run of a story that appeared in the first 40Sadly, there are probably only a few hundred copies of this series in existence.
Empires is the collected run of a story that appeared in the first 40 issues of Yarf!: The Journal of Applied Anthopomorphics fanzine, and was part of the backbone that built it into a very high quality one. Each volume covers ten issues worth of installments.
Empires creator Chris Grant became famous for going through inkers, and there's at least three different ones in this volume alone. By far the best inks in this volume are Dan Flahive's, who went on to have his own series (Space Wolf) published by Antarctic Press.
The "Ace of Spades" is a main battle tank of the Central Empire, and it's story begins when it returns from a routine patrol to find that it's base (indeed, the rest of the unit) has been wiped out by a large scale surprise attack. The Ace of Spade's crew is now trapped behind enemy lines and must try to dodge enemy mop-up efforts while contacting other friendly forces.
Weaved into this is "Morrigan's Story", a parallel plot thread following the local commander of of the Irrykanoi Empire's forces, who is setting up administration in the just-conquered territory, and directing the mopping up forces that are hunting for the Ace of Spades. Her story focuses much more on the surrounding politics and society, as opposed to the much narrower character focus of the Ace of Spades.
In all, Chris Grant tells a well-done war story. The characters are the focus, and the cast is kept fairly small, but you are still given enough information, in the right places, to understand the immediate situation of the campaign it is happening in....more
Okay, I'm going to be up front here. I am horribly biased about this book. Smudge is my roommate, and has been a very good friend of mine for... yeeshOkay, I'm going to be up front here. I am horribly biased about this book. Smudge is my roommate, and has been a very good friend of mine for... yeesh, that long now?
This is a collection of short stories that form a series that is published in the furry anthology Furrlough. It started as a one-off project, and you can see the transition from just a simple little story to the bigger story of the entire series in the nineteen stories herein. What starts as a little moral tale on romance expands into a wide-ranging tale of medieval rabbit politics with magical duels, plotting churchrats, and a conquering empire.
Sadly, there is a misprint that was detected too late where a page got duplicated over another page. If you get a hold of this book in a bookstore, please contact Backbreaker.com, and we'll be glad to get you a replacement page. Lastly, there is a wonderful introduction provided by Batton Lash of Supernatural Law....more