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The Builders

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,755 ratings  ·  536 reviews
A missing eye.
A broken wing.
A stolen country.

The last job didn't end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain's company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain's whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.
ebook, 226 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  2,755 ratings  ·  536 reviews

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✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
All the characters in this story are animals. ALL THE CHARACTERS IN THIS STORY ARE ANIMALS. Why me? I mean, I happen to be one of those lovely people who hate don't give a damn about silly animals. So of course my Minion in Training had to pick this particular book for me *eyeroll* A good thing he didn't know about my utter disdain slight dislike for all things fauna when he decided to gift me this somewhat awesome book. Had he known about my condition, he probably would have sent me a Silly San ...more
Myke Cole
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After a foray into high fantasy with The Empty Throne series, Polansky returns to his roots.

Nobody does dark like Polansky. The Builders is Redwall meets Unforgiven, combining the endearing wit of Disney's Robin Hood with all the grit and violence of a spaghetti western.

Polansky joins Delilah Dawson (Wake of Vultures), John Hornor Jacobs (The Incorruptibles) and Joe Abercrombie (Red Country) as a pioneer in fantasy westerns that marry brutality with redemption and the siren's call of honor sli
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

My rating is 4.5 stars.

Never having experienced any story penned by Daniel Polansky, I was concerned about reading this novella. Why? The anthromorphic animals. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate talking animals, but they aren’t among my favorite fantasy denizens. A few of them go a long way in my opinion. So the idea of a dark fantasy populated by fluffy, talking animals scared the hell out of me.

I shouldn’t have been so worried though: The Builders turning
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
Mini Review: I saw this title pop up on my Goodreads feed and thought “you know, I’ve never tried a grimdark Redwall story – cool!” and then proceeded to devour it that afternoon. It had a clever infusion of woodland creatures into a dark tale of revenge, and I think had it been humans instead of animals I still would’ve enjoyed it. It made me ponder though – were the animals even necessary? In any case, I appreciated the creativity. This is probably the only time I will have the opportunity to ...more
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-shelf, fantasy
This might be considered grimdark fantasy, for all the author seems to think that it is actually a "one-note joke". Hell, I have to disagree. I had as much fun reading this as I'd have when watching any of the old war movies with a small cadre of broken warriors gathering around for one last violent blow out, with all the natural elements of a heist novel, the underdogs (or rats) of a long and vast conflict.

It was pulled-off perfectly.

So what's the joke?

You know all those old YA novels that feat
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A missing eye. A broken wing. A stolen country.

The last job didn’t end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain’s company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain’s whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.

Polansky, you magnificent bastard.

I have just finished The Builders, and I am stunned.

I really don't even know where to begin.

Do I rave about
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
I'm smiling.

The story is extremely straightforward. There are plenty of characters. All of them together needed half of this book just to get introduced. Most of them are rather generic and boring (aside from Puss and Bonsoir, to some extent). The prose is nothing spectacular, bordering on annoyingly simple and repetitive. There is no intellectual depth nor any emotional connection. This book scores big only when it comes to the amount of action packed into the second half of this fast-paced nov
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Where is everyone?”
“They’re coming.”
Bonsoir took his beret off his head and scowled, then replaced it. “It is not right for Bonsoir to be the first—he is too special. His arrival deserves an audience.”

And these characters definitely deserve an audience.


Almost all the ★ (4.5).
This is as good as a novella can get, apart from WARNING - BIG SPOILER (view spoiler), thus the missing ½ ★.

As this was my first book by Daniel P
Stefan Bach
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Endlessly entertaining book which starts as a stale joke: “A mouse enters a bar…”, only to provide you with an hour of exciting read of good old western story about revenge.

Mouse in this case is simply called The Captain. Vicious and cruel creature obsessed with revenge. And in that obsession he travels the world, tracking down his old band of mercenaries.
After five years of building their lives, each one of them has a reason not to join The Captain in his suicide mission, but also, each on
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars, originally reviewed at The Speculative Herald

Funny how I’m generally not big on anthropomorphism but at the same time I do seem to love a lot of books featuring fluffy, furry adorable sentient animals (Redwall, Watership Down, Mouse Guard, etc.) Thus the draw of Daniel Polansky’s The Builders won out, and it was also perfect because I’ve been meaning to check out his work for a long time.

The animals in this book are far from soft and cuddl
Althea Ann
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
'The Builders' is, I guess, intended as a satire of grimdark-style fantasy. In the afterword, the author himself refers to the story as a 'one-note joke.' The joke is that all the characters - a nasty, brutal bunch - are small, furry animals. The trouble is that - yeah, that's all there really is to it. It's just not that funny.

The style aspired to, as well as the plot and content, reminded me most of Scott Lynch - and the thing is, Scott Lynch IS really funny and clever. It's hard to poke fun
The Magnificent Seven meets Kill Bill by way of The Wind in the Willows.

Don't look here for a plot summary, there's not much more to this than the elevator pitch above. I'm not much of a fan of any of those movies though, which does kind of shape my response to this book. That being said, this is the single best old-west revenge quest featuring anthropomorphic animals that I've ever read ...
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-copy, audiobooks
Full review at Total Inability To Connect: https://totalinabilitytoconnect.wordp...

Those who follow me know that I’ve been, traditionally, a fairly big fan of Daniel Polansky’s work. His Low Town series was a blast – dark, gritty as hell, harsh, and very vividly written. I enjoy his prose, the way he forms his characters – specifically the gruff type – and the unforgiving nature of his works.

The Builders is one of the flagship novellas for the new imprint, and getting a heavy hitter like
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novellas
This reads like a fifteen-year-old's idea of what's "badass." "Hey I read Redwall as a kid, but what if it was grimdark " with no sense of irony. I guess the idea of anthropomorphized animals is... something, and the short chapters is a cute little joke about how everything is smaller when it's about rodents, but the entirety of the book was just shallow. Every character is a one dimensional personification of the type of animal it is. The weasels are weasels, shrews are shrewd, rats are rats ...more
GrilledCheeseSamurai (Scott)
I had no idea going into this book that it was an anthropomorphism story.

I know, I know, I probably should have, (it's right there on the cover (I read the ebook without a cover)) it's just that I was reading it because of the author's name alone. I didn't even know what the plot was let alone the fact that it featured a bunch of little animals running around instead of humans.

So you can imagine my surprise when I started reading it.

And let me tell ya, I read the hell outta this with a big shit
Oct 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Short and not so-sweet-take of revenge. I'll admit, despite the often fabulous imagery Polansky creates with his animal anti-heroes, I probably would have preferred this story with human characters instead of animals. But that's my quirk, not a knock on the quality of the novella - if it sounds like your sort of thing, read this! ...more
Sebastien Castell
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A Spaghetti Western populated by gun-totin' talking animals; what's not to love?

The Builders is an engaging fantasy novella that could almost be described as The Magnificent Seven meets Watership Down. Over the course of this short book's two hundred-odd pages we're introduced at length to a cigar-chompin' mouse known as The Captain and his hard-nosed crew made up of a stoat, an opossum, a badger, a mole, and . . . well, you get the idea. Despite the short length of the novella, each character g
Tracey the Lizard Queen
Full review at:

4.25 stars

By now everyone must know how much I love Polansky's work. I'm almost guaranteed to love whatever he puts out there. Something about his storytelling just gets me. The Builders is dark, it's funny (not funny like stupid funny, I mean intelligent humour), and of course it's very violent.

The use of animal stereotypes was great, and in typical Polansky style, all the characters are the kind you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley,
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this was great. Dark and disturbing. Even using animals instead of humans didn't soften the blow. Fast paced and brutal with a simple story but told in an interesting way with characters that are clearly defined, if one note. Easy to understand since they are the animal they represent. Except the mouse :)

My full recommendation.
Viv JM
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Well, that was fun! The Builders is basically a western-style revenge tale, where all the characters are animals. It is full of violence, action and wonderfully dark humour.
Greg (adds 2 TBR list daily) Hersom
I'm a huge fan of Daniel Polansky's Low Town series, so I might have claimed that I wouldn't have bought this book if he hadn't wrote it, but that's not completely honest. Because there is something appealing about a story that features personified animals that I've never outgrown and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

As it turned out this is one the wildest books I've read. I can't explain it any better than what other authors and reviewers have already said; "The Wild Bunch meets Watership Down.
I wouldn’t have thought of this as a one-note joke until I read the author’s note at the end, but it’s true that’s what it is in some ways. Think Redwall, but instead of saccharine sweet mice in an abbey and wise old badgers and the clear distinction between vermin and civilised beasts, everyone is perfectly capable of being dangerous. Yes, even a mole. These animals are pretty much just humans in animal guise, with all our foibles and tendencies to violence.

It’s also an entertaining story. It’s
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Do you like cute, little talking animals? How about a group of them led by a mouse? Sounds sweet doesn't it?

The Builders is a western with talking animals. It isn't cute. It is like Unforgiven, but darker and with more bodies.

After reading Polansky's Low Town series, which was Crime Noir in a fantasy setting I wasn't sure what to expect from this. I love Low Town and it is probably the best series I've read this year.

Where Polansky nailed it on the Crime Noir feel, he double-nailed it (no, th
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Man, I really loved everything about this. Polansky's style is excellent and right up my alley; so very excited to read more from this author in the future.

A pretty straightforward revenge tale that doesn't skimp on violence, deception, and dark humor.

The animals bit took a little to get used to, but it never detracted from the story for me
Oct 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite good. I love the image of a mole in genii pants. The death count was huge, revenge plotted well, whiskey was drank and I'd read more of the author. ...more
Most entertainment in $2.99 that I've had in awhile. Cover art by: Richard Anderson

This novella was so much fun. It was super serious in the novella but the ridiculousness of everything caused me to smile and laugh throughout the entire thing. A gang of animals want revenge after they were betrayed in the past. There is a whole host of different animals in this book, most of them being rodents. The part I liked the most was just reading which type of animal would come up next and how they acted.
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, read-2015
5 Stars

The Builders by Daniel Polansky was a truly fun and unexpectedly cool novella by a favorite author of mine. The cover started this action adventure out right and I couldn't wait to see what takes place inside. One would think that a book starring a mouse and filled with creatures like a badger, an owl, a skunk, and a snake as well as many more would be tailor made for the young adult crowd. Unfortunately, they would be mistaken. This is a Polansky story through and through. It is dark, n
Phil A
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Awesome and unique story! I was impressed how invested I was with the characters, yet the book was a little over 200 pages. I doesn't seem like the book was long enough to develop the characters as well as Polansky did. He's a magician with this work. I agree with other reviews that thought this book was like a "Dirty Dozen" story. Throughout the book, I also drew comparisons to "The Magnificent Seven" (one of my favorite movies). I highly recommend this book. It's a really quick read, at just o ...more
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, novella, desert
"The grimdark answer to Redwall."

At least, that's what I'd be saying if I'd ever actually read Redwall. It had a Western element in it too.
Sachin Dev
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-great-reads
Oh what a brutal brutal story. Blistering guns, black satire and lyrical prose. Daniel Polansky is my new favorite ambassador of grim dark.

Builders packs in quite a lot of punch in this small novella, just over hundred and ninety pages that is a unique mix of spaghetti western by way of blood-soaked revenge story featuring fantastical furry intelligent animals banding together for one final "job".

This is my introduction to Polansky's works - having missed out the Low Town series of books - and
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Selecting a perfect builder by finding their previous works? 1 3 Jun 27, 2019 11:57PM  
Grimdark Fantasy: The Builders [Spoilers] 13 43 Aug 07, 2016 08:56AM  
Grimdark Fantasy: The Builders [NO spoilers] 8 29 Jul 05, 2016 10:12AM  

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Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy, Empty Throne duology, the Hugo-nominated novella The Builders, and A City Dreaming. He can be found in Los Angeles, mostly.

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