The Jackal Queen – Roy Lisman

Synopsis:  Out of Time. On the Run.

Isaac was none too pleased when his vacation was cut short by a call from his friend Raziel. His mood only grew worse when Raziel magically transported them back in time to ancient Egypt.

Now they have to find a way back home, hopefully without changing history. But the locals think they are deities, which has caught the attention of the temptress pharaoh—the Jackal Queen.

Written by Roy Lisman

Cover and interior illustrations by Kadath

Published by Furplanet Productions

I picked up this book, because I am in love with ancient Egypt, both the culture, the style, and the mythology typical for that era. I’m actually surprised that not more novels/novellas have been written in this setting.

The Jackal Queen features two unlikely friends who make their way back to ancient Egypt through the use of magic and modern technology, after which they get stuck and have to find their way back home. The Egypts thinking they’re actually avatars of the gods Sobek and Mahes, leads to quite some interesting situations, which mostly end up getting quite steamy.

While I love the way the Egyptian setting is used in this story at times, I feel that a lot more could have been done with it. If you take out all hot scenes, which I actually loved, there would be very little left of the actual novella, which is a shame. Instead of using x-rated scenes to make the story stronger, it felt like the story was more like an excuse in order to write cohesive sex scenes. Instead of having written an “Erotic Historical Tale”, it felt more like an erotic tale with a bit of history thrown into the mix. The story could’ve been implemented in various historical times, without even having to change that much.

If you’re looking for some steamy scenes, then this book is definitely for you, but if you’re looking for a great story, try a different book.

– Faolan

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The Jackal Queen – Roy Lisman

Gods With Fur – Fred Patten

Synopsis: From the very beginning, mankind has found the divine in the shape of animals from across the world. Deities such as Ganesha, Coyote, Anubis, and The Monkey King—even Zeus took to the wing from time to time. In ancient Egyptian deserts, misty Central American rainforests, and across wind swept tundra, man has forever told stories of gods with fur, feathers, scales, or tusks.

Gods With Fur features twenty-three new stories of divine animals working their will upon the land. You may recognize gods such as Bastet, while other stories see authors working in their familiar worlds, such as M. R. Anglin’s Silver Foxes books or Kyell Gold’s Forester University books. Others are set in new worlds where the anthropomorphic gods have tales to tell us. We are proud to present this new furry view of divinity.

400 Rabbits by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden
Contract Negotiations by Field T. Mouse
On the Run from Isofell by M. R. Anglin
To the Reader… by Alan Loewen
First Chosen by BanWynn Oakshadow
All Of You Are In Me by Kyell Gold
Yesterday’s Trickster by NightEyes DaySpring
The Gods of Necessity by Jefferson Swycaffer
The Precession of the Equinoxes by Michael H. Payne
Deity Theory by James L. Steele
Questor’s Gambit by Mary E. Lowd
Fenrir’s Saga by Televassi
The Three Days of the Jackal by Samuel C. Conway
A Melody in Seduction’s Arsenal by Slip-Wolf
Adversary’s Fall by MikasiWolf
As Below, So Above by Mut
Wings of Faith by Kris Schnee
The Going Forth of Uadjet by Frances Pauli
That Exclusive Zodiac Club by Fred Patten
Three Minutes To Midnight by Killick
A Day With No Tide by Watts Martin
Repast (A Story of Aligare) by Heidi C. Vlach
Origins by Michael D. Winkle

Published by FurPlanet Productions

The first thing that drew me to this book was the amazing artwork by Taegan Gavet, otherwise known as Blackteagan. The colour scheme and the stunning blue eyes of the deer on the cover simply begged me to get this anthology. Yes, I am terribly guilty of judging a book by its cover. It didn’t hurt that the contents appealed to me greatly.

This is definitely one of the best anthologies I have ever read, and it took me a long time to get through all the different stories. They were all so incredibly different, and I’ve discovered quite a few talented writers by reading this work. Almost every story was enjoyable in its own right, but some definitely appealed to me more than others. To give you my three best stories:

Deity Theory by James L. Steele
A Day With No Tide by Watts Martin
First Chosen by Ban Wynn Oakshadow

Deity Theory had an excellent setting and interesting story, A Day With No Tide had wonderful characters and a setting I always enjoy, and First Chosen simply amazed me by the sheer amount of research that must’ve been done prior to writing the story, even going as far as quoting from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I can honestly say I enjoyed these three stories the most, which says something, because basically all the other stories were great in their own way.

I would love to recommend this anthology to all readers who enjoy mythology.

– Faolan

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Gods With Fur – Fred Patten

Kyell Gold – Black Angel

Meg‘s always thought that love and ghosts are fantasies for gullible people, but her skepticism is about to be tested. As her roommates Sol and Alexei move on with her lives, the otter remains stuck in her rut, unsure what to do about her future or about her best friend Athos. He wants more than friendship from her, but she isn’t sure whether she’s straight or gay, let alone in love with him. Not helping are the strange trances that show her the lives of two other young girls, one who wants to be a voodoo priestess and the other who wants to escape a Christian cult. Athos sticks by her as the trances take over her life, and Meg will have to figure out her true feelings or lose him along with everything else.

Black Angel is Kyell Gold’s third and final novel in the Dangerous Spirits series which began with Green Fairy and continued in Red Devil. The books contain characters that are involved in a variety of relationships and deal heavily with sexuality, but there are no explicit depictions of sexual acts.

Cover and interior illustrations by Rukis.

Published by Sofawolf Press

Black Angel is a wonderful final installment in the Dangerous Spirits series, that I absolutely loved reading. This review will contain quite some spoilers, so if you prefer to read the book without knowing anything beforehand, you should probably stop reading now.

What made this book so enjoyable to me, was that it followed my favourite character in the series, Meg, and we find her life getting awfully complicated when two other stories are forced into her head. One being of a spirit that lived a hundred years ago, and one that consists of dreams about an otter somewhere in the future. This gives Meg’s story a very refreshing twist, instead of following a similar path as the previous two novels.

What I loved about this particular thing, was that Gold plays around with time, showing us that it is all interwoven and the past can influence the future, as well as the other way around. Marie-Belle influences Meg’s life up to the point where she pretty much screws everything up, making her life a lot harder, while she is also trying to deal with own strange love life and the fact that she is no longer taking antidepressants. While dealing with this, Meg struggles with dreams of Hannah, an otter in the future. She quickly finds out that Hannah has dreams about her as well, strongly linking the two together. Meg even influences Hannah’s life directly at one point, making Meg Hannah’s “spirit”, just as Marie-Belle is Meg’s. This was a very interesting turn of events, which amused me greatly. It was even better because of Meg being a very skeptical person, who keeps trying to explain things rationally.

Aside from all the spiritual things going on, Meg is struggling with her sexuality, making enough money to pay rent, Athos, and her parents, throwing her into a maelstrom of emotions and drama that was very interesting to read about. I personally believe that Meg is the deepest and most well-rounded character in the series, and I am glad she got her own novel to star in.

The revelation at the end was mind-blowing, as it links the previous two books with this one even stronger. Suddenly, everything made sense, giving the book a very nice ending, instead of leaving the reader with a lot of questions. Sure, her life isn’t over at the end of the book, but at least we know why certain things happened.

It is very difficult to try to talk about this book without revealing a lot, and it is not really a book to be reviewed like this, and I don’t think I did a good job at it. In order to fully grasp how amazing this story is, it should be discussed in a group. So grab some friends, get them to read the novels, and discuss the series!

Gold did an amazing job on this final installment, and very competently laid these spirits to rest. I would recommend the series to anyone looking for a thrilling storyline and at least a hint of interest in the paranormal.

-Faolan

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Kyell Gold – Black Angel

Dungeon Grind – Kandrel & Rechan

Synopsis: Not every adventure goes according to plan, and not every monster deserves to be slain!

Here are the stories of the monsters with their favorite adventurers, uninhibited, unfettered, and unleashed!

Featuring stories by Kandrel, Rechan, Voice, Whyte Yoté and many more, inside are ten tales of medieval mayhem meant to be read by torch light.

For adults only!

Features the following stories:

Blackhorn by Tarl “Voice” Hoch
Fifty Scales of Grey by Sarina Dorie
Forbidden Gnolledge by Marderschaden
Eyes in the Black by Kandrel
Velvet by Rechan
Sighs for the Labyrinth by Slip-Wolf
The Oni and the Fisherman by George Squares
Peryton Mod by Ross Whitlock
The Desert Run by Tym Greene
Dragon Therapy by Whyte Yoté

Cover and interior art by Unciaa, Edited by Kandrel and Rechan.

Published by FurPlanet Productions

This is yet another anthology that I thoroughly enjoyed. Being somewhat of a tabletop roleplayer and an fan of the fantasy genre myself, this book was right up my alley. The stories were well-written, and definitely sent my imagination into overdrive from time to time, and left me wanting more.

The stories I enjoyed most, in no particular order, were Slip-Wolf’s Sighs for the Labyrinth, Ross Whitlock’s Peryton Mod, and Whyte Yoté’s Dragon Therapy. These stories managed to play to my imagination in a way that none of the other stories matched. Slip-Wolf’s story made me want to comfort the Minotaur, Whitlock’s made me want to see and touch the Peryton myself, and I really wanted to see the relationship between Yoté’s characters develop further. It just seemed like I got to see chapters from books, which leaves me hungry to learn more about all of these characters and the worlds they live in. A job well done.

The art by Unciaa gives the anthology a really nice touch. Several of the book’s characters can be found on the cover, while the interior art gives a small glimpse of the stories you will be reading soon. Especially the interior design is very stylishly done. I personally really enjoy books with pretty pictures in them, so I was very glad to see this.

I would really love to recommend this anthology to all lovers of fantasy and RPG’s, whether digital or not.

– Faolan

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Dungeon Grind – Kandrel & Rechan

Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy

A landmark of world literature, “The Divine Comedy” tells of the poet Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in search of salvation. Before he is redeemed by his love for the heavenly Beatrice, he learns the meaning of evil, sin, damnation and forgiveness through a series of unforgettable experiences and encounters in what is considered a pre-eminent work of Italian literature. This edition of “The Divine Comedy” features Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s renowned and 135 full-page reproductions of Gustave Dore’s classic engravings from the 1867 edition. “The Divine Comedy” is part of “Barnes & Noble”‘s series of quality leatherbound volumes. Each title in the series presents a classic work in an attractively designed edition bound in genuine bonded leather. These books make elegant additions to any home library.

Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Illustrated by Gustave Dore
Published by Barnes & Noble, Inc.

Dante’s Divine Comedy is perhaps one of the most important books ever written. This nearly 700-year-old story has been referenced by so many other books, films, games, etc. that there are almost no avid readers who haven’t at least heard of Dante’s Inferno.

Having come across the name so often in books, inspired me to get myself a copy of this book, the most beautiful one I could find of course, and read it.

I must say that it really feels like an achievement that I’ve been able to finish it, and that I didn’t just give up halfway. The book is written in an older version of English, and in a somewhat poetic way, which makes this an incredibly difficult book to read. There have been multiple pages that I’ve read, of which I still have no idea what they were actually about. There were also a lot of names in the book, that meant absolutely nothing to me. However, as a certain little blue fish once told me, I just kept swimming.

The part I enjoyed most was definitely the first part: Inferno, which is also the part that’s referenced most. It was quite interesting to read how Dante experienced Hell and the people in it. The different punishments and the reason for them were just so interesting that I blasted my way through Inferno in a short amount of time.

Purgatorio and Paradiso were absolutely boring to me, Purgatorio especially. There were just way too many discussions about all kinds of things that didn’t interest me, and which were written in such a way that I simply didn’t understand most of it. I knew the words, I knew the meanings of most words, but I simply didn’t know what the characters were talking about. This was very frustrating.

So yes, it feels like an achievement to have finished the book, but I simply didn’t enjoy it. At least it’ll ook pretty in my bookcase. I would like to end with saying: Abandon all hope, ye who picketh up this book!

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Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy

Off the Beaten Path – Rukis

Synopsis:  Spending her life beneath the oppressive control of an abusive husband she’d had no choice in marrying was a hard life, but Shivah strove to endure it in order to protect her child.

When her child was slain, and Shivah herself viciously attacked and left for dead, she swore she’d make her husband pay dearly for his greatest mistake…leaving her alive.

She is joined in her hunt by the two men who pulled her from the jaws of death, and a group of lawmen hunting a dangerous band of raiders threatening the countryside. But there may be deeper, more widespread evils hidden in the shadows of the conflict she finds herself a part of.

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. I fear that whatever I write here won’t do the book any justice by a long shot, for Rukis has written this book so incredibly well that it is simply impossible not to read the other two parts as well.

Off the Beaten Path has a very solid story, which takes is on a journey viewed from the eyes of Shivah, a broken woman who evolves very nicely throughout the book, to become a very strong, and rational, protagonist. The story in itself is quite simple, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It has enough interesting twists and turns that it’ll leave you hungry as a reader. I will not say too much about the story, as I would just spoil way too much.

The true strength of the book isn’t necessarily the storyline though. Personally, the fantastic characters are what make this book work. You cannot help but grow to love at least one, and hate at least one of the characters, which is a good sign. I personally really loved Puquanah and the interaction between Shivah and Grant, Grant definitely being my favourite character in this book. Another one that I liked was Magpie, for his good humour. The ones I wanted to punch in the face are Ransom, for obvious reasons, and, wait for it, Crow. Ransom just hurts the people around him way too much for me to like him. Yes, he’s broken inside, but that doesn’t excuse his behaviour in my eyes. I just hated Crow for breaking up the lovely interaction between Shivah and the marshal.

There is wonderful character development in this first part of the trilogy, and I wonder how the character will evolve in the next book.

The ending of this first installment is so incredibly good, that it’s hard to put into words what I thought about it, without spoiling too much. I just have one word for this: “WOW!”. It was just such a clustercuss of so many things happening at the same time, that it’s impossible not to want to read part two, which I will do quite happily.

BUY THIS BOOK! I’m not joking. I personally believe this is one of the strongest novels, especially in a trilogy, that I’ve read in a long time. Rukis, I want to thank you for the many hours of enjoyment and the silly grins you’ve conjured on my face while I was reading this fantastic story. You did it again. You are now officially on my list of favourite writers.
– Faolan

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Off the Beaten Path – Rukis

Transcending Hallowed Walls – Andres Cyanni Halden

Synopsis:  In order to stop High General Takashi Ironskin, the paladins of the Hopegiver must activate the Light of Creation, a warhammer so magically powerful it can kill a god. To do so, four paladins – the wolf Vorel, the fox Rasvim, the mouse Acton, and the Wolfen Mier – travel to the K’Mir Empire in hopes of finding the Font of Light. In order to survive the journey, they enlist Trent, a defector from the empire, to lead them through its toxic deserts.

As they travel through those dangerous lands, the snowcat paladin Torr heads north with a group of allies to try and rally old enemies of Takashi Ironskin to their cause. All of the paladins and their friends hold hopes that they can gather an army large enough to challenge General Ironskin’s terrifying undead soldiers.

The paladins of the Hopegiver know the risks they must take, and sacrifices that may have to face. Above all else, they must protect the innocent – no matter the cost.

After reading part two of this trilogy, I really hoped that Halden would redeem himself with this third and final installment of his Paladin Trilogy. This he did.

Transcending Hallowed Walls takes us to the K’Mir empire, the hostile homeland of the Chosen; Frontier, the country of the commonfolk; back to Oya, and back to Vasani, where the final stand to dethrone Takashi Ironskin and take back the city. In contrast to the second book, Halden actually takes the time to effectively describe these two new countries, which satisfied me as a reader. The story is fast-paced, but there’s still enough time to get to know these foreign contries.

The paladins are joined by new allies once again, who are all interesting in their own way. It seems Halden has a knack for coming up with enjoyable characters. As a reader I’ve come to love them, and it was great to see them develop throughout the entire trilogy. Some characters don’t change that much, but others undergo a complete metamorphosis. Excellent!

As we get towards the ending of the story, I came to realize that these three books hadn’t really played with my emotions all that much. Sure, there were some events that triggered a reaction, but it wasn’t really that evident. However, the epilogue hit me right in the feels. It also creates some room for a new story, by raising a few new questions. However, I personally really wish that Halden will stop writing about the paladins after this story. Any more would just feel like he’s milking it, even though there really isn’t that much left to give.

SPOILER ALERT!

I enjoyed this story. I really did. However, the final chapter, where the paladins fight to reclaim Eldere, kind of ticked me off. I felt that the fighting in the street was way too easy, and the paladins just wandered through the city, whistling, while crushing the undead under their feet. However, two of our beloved paladins, and one of my favourite characters, died unnecessarily. I’m talking about Acton here. I feel he could’ve easily taken on that darkmage, and that he didn’t need to die. This of course led to the death of Mier, who went on a rampage.

Torr died in a purposeful way, or at least that’s what it seemed like, because apparently it didn’t do the others much good. I feel it would’ve been best for him to assist the paladins in the actual battle before sacrificing himself. He could’ve done that later, right?

Vorel’s death also seemed kind of…stupid? Here’s the head paladin of the Hopegiver, respected all over the continent, with the strongest weapon in his paws, and he can’t get rid of one darkmage? Seems a little off to me.

It just seemed like Halden wanted to create a situation where the last paladin standing, Rasvim, felt completely isolated and alone, which led to the very sad epilogue, which was actually very good.

All of this leads me to wondering why the gods didn’t step in and help? Sure, it’s been explained that they cannot directly interfere with Takashi Ironskin, because he’s a darkmage, but what stopped them from giving our heroes amazing regenerative powers, endless energy, and a powerful strength and speed boost? It almost seemed like they didn’t care at all, which made the Hopegiver crying over Vorel’s dead body somewhat strange. The god saying that Vorel was doomed from the beginning, because he was the Hopegiver’s, and thus a god’s, child, does not justify that.

I also kept wondering when Mhegan would step up and actually blast someone with this supposed amazing power she has inside of her. I feel not enough has been done with this character, and she could have aided in this war, and could’ve prevented needless deaths. I do understand why she didn’t, or rather couldn’t, revive the slain paladins. Paladins of the Hopegiver can’t be revived. She revived Torr ones, right? That was because he wasn’t a paladin of the Hopegiver at that time, after his little oopsie with Rasvim. Only after he was revived, was he reinitiated as a paladin.

I don’t necessarily hate sad or bad endings, but I do not condone the needless killing of beloved main characters.

END OF SPOILERS!

All in all, I enjoyed this book, and it is a nice ending to the trilogy. However, I still feel it could’ve been better, especially if what I just wrote had not happened in this way.

– Faolan

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Transcending Hallowed Walls – Andres Cyanni Halden