It's Book Review Saturday! If you're looking for a good book to read over the holidays, consider this book…
Kitsune Strategem-- Book 1 of The Inari's Children Series
Once magic was plentiful and the world was dominated by a singular empire whose name has long been lost to history. In its time, the great wizard Inari developed his greatest creation: The kitsune. His enemies were quick to copy him, and soon the world was populated with many different types of this remarkable creature. Two thousand years later and these different breeds of kitsune are fighting amongst themselves, and the rest of the human world joins them.
Book I: The Kitsune Stratagem
To avoid being used as a political pawn against her father, a young kitsune vixen named Kieras must leave her homeland. She soon gets caught up in the fortunes of Mathis, a vagabond hunter from Ekholm, a once sleepy little town on the verge of becoming a small city. To find a way to return home, Kieras must first help Mathis save Ekholm from threats both inside and out.
My Review: 4 Stars
Written/Reviewed by Samuel Denberg
This book is well paced and written. The author is a natural story teller and weaves a good plot. That said, I almost didn't make it past the first chapter. To begin with, the book is called The Kitsune Stratagem. I was expecting Shogun, Samurai, and an Emperor. Instead I found myself reading about a ware-fox who's living in medieval Europe. Second, Kieras's father tells her of being attacked by an Amarok. A Japanese were-fox attacked by a giant wolf from Inuit legend? Keep the myths straight or change the names.
Then there are the names of people and nations. One name stood out above the others: Erixonites. While the spelling has been changed, it sounds way too much like Ericsonites. Ericson, is a Norse name. “Ites” is a suffix which has been used in naming tribes from the Middle East since the Bronze Age. Semites and Israelites are but two examples.
The world-building of this story seems to have been chosen from a grab-bag of various myths and names. This could make a great High Fantasy novel, but it must lose its references to earth mythology. It can still have were-foxes, giant wolves and other creatures, as long as the names aren't directly related to known and established myths.
Last but not least: female foxes in this book are constantly referred to as vixens. I see this as a potential PC nightmare and may also confuse readers. In the phrase “true to her vixen nature,” does the author mean her female fox nature, her angry and unpleasant nature, or her sexually attractive nature? The book also lacks consistency in this area as male foxes are never called “raynard”, neither are young foxes called “kit”.
All in all, a good story with poor world building. I give the story 4 stars but the world 1.
Here's a Taste:
“Archers, string your bows!” the call from Mrazek came, echoing up to Mathis’ station from a floor below.
Mathis took a deep breath. When dawn came, it was clear he had been right. While the entire Knodelian army had not crossed the river, a large enough raiding party to give them serious trouble had. Torkki had done his part the previous day. It was finally time to see if he was up to the challenge as well.
He considered using his standard longbow, but then changed his mind. This was a real battle, not practice nor simple hunting. It called for his best weapon. He instead reached for the one-of-a-kind laminated daikyu-style longbow he had build for himself, one which would out-perform even the greatbows the wulvers were armed with.
As he pulled out the bowstring, one of his fellow archers, a wulver named Teslak, approached him. “That’s a mighty bow for a human. Need any help with it?”
Mathis snorted, and then with one quick motion strung it without any noticeable strain at all. “Does that answer your question?”
Teslak let out a loud bark of laughter. “I suppose it does, yes. Laminated yew and ironwood, with a linen string... a hundred strands thick?”
“A hundred twenty.” Mathis checked the wax coating on the string. “Double the average longbow string. Even so, it breaks too often for comfort, which is why I also have a greatbow and a longbow already strung, as well.”
“Interesting,” Teslak said. “As powerful a bow as that seems to be, I imagine it’s hard to be accurate with it, especially for a human.”
“Most humans, maybe,” Mathis said, “but I’ve never had a problem with it.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
Mathis glanced out the window, seeing that the Knodelian advance was about half a mile away and approaching slowly. Normally, that would be out of range even for him, but they were on a platform. “See that man there, with the large purple plume in his cap?”
The wulver narrowed his eyes, looking in the same direction. “An officer of some kind, I suppose.” A low-toned thrumming twang echoed to his right. Teslak glanced over to see the arrow string still vibrating on Mathis’ bow. Glancing back at the Knodelian army, he was just in time to catch the feather-bearing soldier fall. Then he turned and stared at Mathis, his jaw hanging loose in surprise. “How...”
“Hey!” Mrazek snapped, interrupting their conversation as his head poked out the top of the ladder behind them. “Cease fire! Save your arrows. You’ll fire when I give the order, and not a second sooner, got it?”
“Yes, sir!” Mathis said along with Teslak and the other wulver archers.
Mrazek started back down the ladder with a seemingly satisfied woof. Before he completely vanished, however, he had one last word to say. “By the way... good shot!”
About the Author
David A. Tatum was born the son of a librarian. His father, who worked in such places as the Cornell University Library, the NASA Annex at the Goddard Space Flight Center, the George Mason University library, and the Central Intelligence Agency Library (Historical Intelligence Collection), raised him amongst a collection featuring books on or by American Small Press Publishers (primarily of the post-impressionist and early beatnik eras), translations of Croatian Poetry (some of which were done by David's father, himself), and other esoterica. In spite of this background, David decided to turn his literary attention towards Science Fiction and Fantasy, culminating in the publication of his first novel, In Treachery Forged
. With the release of The Kitsune Stratagem
and his upcoming science fiction novel, The Merrimack Event
, David will be juggling three such series for the forseeable future. Unfortunately this means he won't have time to learn Croatian, so he probably won't be translating any Croatian poetry, himself, any time soon.
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