Legacy: Dawn – Rukis

Synopsis: Kadar was born into one of the lowest castes in his society—the laborers. That is, until a series of unfortunate events trapped him in the only life worse, that of an indentured servant.

Literally collared by the powerful hyena clan that holds his contract, Kadar now finds himself facing a dangerous decision.

Live as a slave, or fight for freedom.

Joined by a hyena held captive by his own kind, a guard with a grudge against the very people he works for, and an indomitable cheetah, Kadar faces an uncertain future in a land where centuries of dependence on slavery and warfare make real freedom of any kind, for any caste, a dream that might be worth dying for.

From the world of “Red Lantern”

Written and illustrated by Rukis

Published by FurPlanet Productions

As soon as I saw that Rukis had published yet another book, I knew I just had to have it, convinced that I would thoroughly enjoy it again. The world of “Red Lantern” has managed to captivate me ever since the graphic novel, and my enjoyment grows stronger with every book or series set in this world.

Legacy: Dawn features strong characters with interesting backgrounds that are sure to capture your heart in one way or another. The main character, Kadar, is a jackal that I absolutely loved to follow through the story. I did not always agree with the choices he made or the way he behaved, but everything he does fits in perfectly with his personality. This character grows a lot the more the story progresses. The same goes for Ahsan, the other main character. If there’s anything Rukis excels at, it would be character development. Few writers of furry literature manage to do the same at this level.

While the story is relatively simple, it is a very effective one. It also leaves a lot of space for Kadar’s “flashbacks” as well as other characters’ stories, making the setting feel complete instead of like a speed run of a video game. There were many moments that were so incredibly satisfying in this book, that I probably won’t forget about them for a long time.

Legacy: Dusk is already out, and while I am very eager to get it, I am still waiting for it to be published as a hardcover book.  I guess I’ll just have to be patient.

I would recommend Legacy: Dawn and any of her other books, for she is a phenomenal writer deserving of all the recognition and attention for her books she could possibly get.

– Faolan

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Legacy: Dawn – Rukis

Fragments of Life’s Heart: Vol. 1 – Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

They say Love is the oldest story on Earth, but we don’t have to tell it the same way every time. How many ways are there to explore our feelings that we may have never even considered? Countless fragments of different worlds, all held together by the greatest force of all.

Join us as we explore the many different forms of love—family love, forbidden love, love that embraces what society always taught was wrong. Seasoned veterans and brand new talents bring you seventeen anthropomorphic stories with all different forms of sexuality and relationships, in a journey across genres, worlds, and time.

Love can bloom, thrive, and end. Love can heal, mesh, and blend. We’re all Fragments trying to stick together.

Tending the Fires – Jess E Owen

Transitions – Mog Moogle

The Mistress of Tidwell Manor – Renee Carter Hall

Yet Time and Distance – Kris Carver

Polynomials – Fever Low

Raise Your Voice – Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

Going Out – T C Powell

Harvest Home – Altivo Overo

The Foreigner – Dwale

Trade All the Stars – Watts Martin

Draw to the Heart – Ocean Tigrox

Paint the Square-Cut Sky – Slip-Wolf

Hearth Soup – Laura “Munchkin” Lewis

Brass Candy Girl – M C A Hogarth

Footsteps – Televassi

Rain Check – Field T Mouse

The Soul of Wit – Daniel Lowd

Edited by Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

Cover art by Darkomi

Published by Weasel Press

I was really looking forward to reading this book, mostly because I tried getting a story in as well, but unfortunately didn’t make the cut. After reading this anthology, I can easily tell why. However, it’s not about me at this moment, so allow me to stop right there.

When we hear the word “love” we all know what to expect in stories, but Fragments takes it to a way deeper level by showing us different kinds of love, most of which are by no means cliché in any way, when it comes to books. It sheds new light on the old concept, by showing facets that by no means get the attention they deserve.

My favourite stories in this anthology have to be Tending the Fires by Jess E. Owen (author of the Summer King Chronicles), Raise Your Voice by Stefano “Mando” Zocchi, Draw to the Heart by Ocean Tigrox, and Paint the Square Cut Sky by Slip-Wolf. These stories all touched my heart in different ways. Slip-Wolf actually managed to catch me off guard with his story. What these four stories have in common, is that they all managed to rope me in with their enjoyable characters and wonderful narrative. I wanted to fight with Nara’s mother, take Treyo home with me, throw Chad down a long flight of stairs, and run away with Leida.

Fragments is a pretty good anthology all-in-all. I was actually quite surprised by the big number stories featuring humans as the norm, and having anthropomorphic animals either as an alien species or a human creation. It definitely added a little extra to a few of the stories, where it did nothing for other stories that had this concept as well.

I would like to suggest that the stories get to be a little longer in the next volume. A lot of the stories were simply too short to actually grab me, or ended way too quickly and left me dissatisfied and wanting more. I also regret saying that there were two stories that left me quite cold. They just didn’t manage to grab me at all.

I will definitely buy the next volume when it comes out, which the words “volume 1” kind of promise, as I have enjoyed reading most of this anthology. Thank you for shedding much-needed light on the different aspects of love.

Also, to Daniel Lowd:

Well played, good sir. Well played.

– Faolan

fragments

Fragments of Life’s Heart: Vol. 1 – Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi

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

Huntress – Renee Carter Hall

Synopsis: All her life, the young lioness Leya has dreamed of becoming one of the karanja, the proud huntresses of her people. But there’s more to being karanja than just learning to throw a spear. Life among their tents means giving up family, safety—even love. How much is Leya willing to sacrifice for a place in the sisterhood? Does she truly have the heart of a huntress?

Author Renee Carter Hall takes readers into the veld for this coming-of-age anthropomorphic fantasy for teens and adults. This edition includes the novella “Huntress” (nominated in the 2014 Ursa Major Awards and Cóyotl Awards), as well as three brand-new short stories set in the same world.

After reading Hall’s story in Kyell Gold’s X, I knew I wanted to read more stories by her. As expected, this book did not disappoint.

Hall sketches a beautiful world, inspired by Africa, in a rather simple, yet effective way. Because it is quite clear in the stories what the surroundings are based on, there is no need to spend multiple pages describing how a single blade of grass dances on the rhythm of the wind. Therefore, Hall chose not to, for which I am very grateful. We know what it looks like, and we know what to expect from the surroundings. After all, we’ve all seen the Lion King, right? Right?

The main story revolves around Leya, a young lioness who has her mind made up about what she wants to be in life, and is willing to make sacrifices. Girl things had never interested her anyway, as she’d always played with the boys. Her mom doesn’t agree with her, and she’d rather have her daughter stay at the village, get married, and have children. Sounds familiar? The setup of this story line is not that different from any other random fantasy story about a strong-headed female lead leaving the nest. However, Leya’s story is not as simple as it may seem.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

After Leya became part of the Karanja, having left love and life to follow her dream, things definitely weren’t as beautiful as she’d hoped. As a reader, this was very refreshing, and it really made Leya seem more real. Every person has their ups and downs, and so does this lioness. The way she slowly built a life for herself was very inspiring, and it made me want to keep reading to find out what would happen next.

The most shocking part in this entire story, was that Leya eventually ended up leaving the life she’d dreamed of ever since early childhood. After her first unplanned return to her village, I wasn’t expecting to see her leave the Karanja again. With permission this time.

This leads the reader to new places and new characters, who’re featured in the other short stories in the book. She learns new things and takes control of her own life once again while staying with these other characters: Ndiri, Shani, and Mtoto. The last few pages of the story were a real surprise to me, but it is definitely the perfect ending to this story.

 

END OF SPOILERS!

 

The other stories in the book are about the lives of Mtoto and Ndiri, and they create a beautiful, complete story when combined with Leya’s. They definitely add to the book as a whole.

Mtoto’s story “The Shape of the Sky” deals with Mtoto’s life as an adult living on his own. Leya is gone and Ndiri and Shani are no longer in the picture, so the boy takes care of himself. One day, a leopard and her wounded antelope arrives at the baobab tree. Mtoto takes care of them and nurses the antelope back to life, among doing other things.

Ndiri’s story “Where the Rivers Meet” is about Ndiri as a young girl, before meeting Leya, growing up as something called the bone mother. When a girl is orphaned young, it is said she is chosen by the gods to be their instrument on earth. Unlike Leya, who got to decide her own path, Ndiri’s is set in stone, and she struggles to follow it. Of course, after reading Leya’s story, we all know what happens eventually. However, it was nice to find out what happened before that.

The power of Huntress lies in the surprising, yet believable story, and the wonderful unique characters you meet while reading the story. Every significant character in the book is truly and clearly unique, which makes me quite happy as a reader.

Combine the wonderful story inside with the amazing artwork by Sekhmet on the outside, and a book is created that I simply couldn’t leave alone.

-Faolan

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Huntress – Renee Carter Hall