Lost Archive: Legacy – Review by Fred Patten

When I first joined the Furry Writers’ Guild, one of the first people I took note of was Fred Patten. Many younger furries won;t know him, but he was instrumental in bringing both anime AND furry to the US, and as a result, even further afield. There would be so much less of everything we enjoy around us, if not for him. He is absolute undeniable proof that you can contribute to the fandom without a fursuit, or even a fursona. What he gave us is immeasurable.

Fred sadly passed away last year, but when he was alive, one of the things he enjoyed most was to review furry literature. I was honoured to have sent him my first two books, in exchange for a review of each.

The reviews had been lost previously, but in the spirit of Furry Book Month, to archive for my own purposes, and in honour of the approaching anniversary of his passing, I’m reposting the reviews in their entirety here.


Legacy, by Hugo Jackson. Map.719oQQeUPIL
Derby, England, UK, Inspired Quill Publishing, September 2013, trade PB $12.99 (v + 371 pages), Kindle $3.90.

The map of Eeres on pages iv and v shows only a few land masses amidst many oceans and seas; the result of a prehistoric cataclysm 2,500 years earlier. Millions were killed, the whole world was reshaped, and the few survivors were too desperately trying to survive to keep any civilization or record of the past. All that remained, when a new civilization began to come together centuries later, were legends of a glorious, hardly believable past, and of the unknown disaster that had destroyed it. And a name – Nazreal – of the only city from that forgotten past known (or believed) to have existed for sure.

As Legacy begins, all Eeres (or Cadon, its largest continent and the location of the more important independent city-states) is abuzz with the news that the latest discovery from pre-cataclysmic times may lead to the lost city of Nazreal itself. This sets off a hurricane of hopes and fears; hopes that some of the legendary benefits may be reintroduced to civilization, and fears that what destroyed the past world will also be found again. More troubling is that Dhraka, a city far to the southwest of Cadon, is where the ancient artifact has been found. Dhraka is also dominated by aggressive dragons led by the militant Fulkore Crawn. (The other city-states are inhabited by various furry mammals.) There are worries that Dhraka may follow up its discovery to find something that will allow it to take over all Eeres. Even if the discovery is useless, Dhraka could use its search for Nazreal as a cover for militaristic expansion.

Sinédrion, the most sophisticated city of Cadon and the social leader, is the venue of Eeres’ Senate where representatives of the different city-kingdoms debate. The usual boring debates are turned into a turmoil when Fulkore comes to ask (a thinly veiled demand) that the other cities help Dhraka in its search. He especially wants access to the archives of Xayall, the fox-led city that has been researching the legends of the past for centuries. But Fulkore refuses to describe just what Dhraka has found; also, Xayall is the closest city to Dhraka, and it has suspected Dhraka of wanting to annex it for a long time. Aidan Phiraco, the Emperor of Xayall, refuses to let any of the dragons inside Xayall.

Chapter 1 is misleading, because the protagonist of Legacy is Faria Phiraco, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Emperor Aidan. She is the child of a red fox father and a fennec mother, and a blend of both. She is the representative in Xayall of Aidan in his absence, and a student of science/magic, both of what has been rediscovered and of new developments; specializing in the use of crystals for resonance manipulation. Both Faria and her father suspect that, with Xayall’s formal refusal to help Dhraka, the dragons will begin unofficial warfare against them. Aidan is reluctant to let her leave the walled city any more for fear of assassination.

When Dhraka strikes sooner and more ruthlessly than expected, Faria must escape from the city, find allies, warn the other cities, and discover the secret of Nazreal.

In addition to Faria, major characters in Legacy include Tierenan Cloud, a cyborg raccoon whom Faria frees from Dhrakan mind control; Aeryn and Kyru, two wolf mercenaries; and their adversary, Vionaika, Dhraka’s sadistic commander; a hyena/feline/dragon hybrid. Tierenan, Kyru, and Aeryn are shown with Faria on the wraparound cover by Minna Sundberg (Finnish author/artist of the completed online anthro comic strip A Redtail’s Dream). The adventures of these four, and their pursuer, take them by land and sea across Eeres, from humble carts and boats to fantastic airships, meeting anthros from mundane mammals and reptiles (“An iguana and a sailfin lizard deftly scaled the sterncastle to attend to the three-pronged mast on top.” – p. 185) to Osiris, a gryphon.

Legacy ends with a lengthy, exhausting conclusion, but there is a happy ending. However, don’t relax yet, because this is only Book One of the Resonance Tetralogy. Books Two through Four will be Fracture, Ruin’s Dawn, and Resonance End.

Legacy is very satisfying. Jackson brings a complex and colorful anthro world to life. His descriptions are full of lush detail:

“They rounded a corner and descended a set of large, sweeping stairs; this was one of the main entrances to the building. Aidan could hear the bustling of the citizens in the streets outside.

When they reached the large iron door at the base, two bulky guards hauled it open, revealing the eminent city of Sinédrion laid out before them, colours ablaze in the late evening’s low vermillion sun. A large river curved majestically around the Senate chamber, wearing luxurious bridges like a uniform of office.

Their carriage awaited them: an elegant design in dark wood with green and gold trim. Tall, horse-like dinosaur creatures with long tails, Theriasaurs, stood proudly at its head awaiting their command to move. The Xayall emblem, a white fox on a shield of blue flame, had been carved into the vehicle’s doors. A troop of mounted soldiers were stood to attention behind it; a silent, respectful welcome to their Emperor.” (p. 13)

Jackson’s worst fault is an overuse of emotionally-charged adjectives and adverbs such as “proud bridges” (p. 15). They become pejorative when describing the antagonists, such as “[…] Fulkore, who, although keeping his body absolutely still behind the plinth, had a vicious fire in his eyes” (p. 9) and “the vile hyena” (p. 326). These make it overly clear that the antagonists are not merely antagonists, they are black-hearted villains. Some of the descriptions go on too long, such as the first overview of Xayall which covers a page and a half. A few words are misused; the losing side in a fight is constantly being “decimated”. A full-page About the Author identifies Jackson as living in Raleigh, North Carolina, yet Legacy is full of British spellings and from an English publisher. There are occasional very old-fashioned constructions, like “were stood to attention” that most authors haven’t used in a century.

These are minor nitpicks, however. Basically, this is a fast-moving, richly-detailed adventure set in a colorful anthropomorphic world. Legacy is worth reading.

– Fred Patten

Legacy is available worldwide here

So I got my first negative review of Legacy on GoodReads…

And I wanted to address it, because for one thing, despite only being posted last month, it refers to the very first version I self-published in 2010, so pre- Inspired Quill edits.

Kuzco knows the score.

Kuzco knows the score.

I’ll post the review, by user ‘Anila’ below:

Post-nuclear-apocalypse furries wielding magic crystals.

Honestly. I’m struggling to talk about this book without just… pointing to that sentence up there and raising my eyebrows. I should probably play nice because this was a Kindle freebie but really. Post-nuclear-apocalypse furries, I swear, what the actual hell.

Okay, okay. An attempt at a real review, in some form.

– Plot: Balanced between ‘completely transparent’ and ‘where the fuck did that come from and why didn’t you bother to foreshadow it’, with the former dominating the earlier portions of the book and the latter taking up much of the conclusion. Note that when I say ‘balanced’ I don’t mean that it all came out well, ’cause it didn’t: the stuff that was completely obvious was often ignored by the characters, which left them looking stupid, and the things that came out of left field were crucial to the plot, which meant pretty much the whole conclusion of the book just had to be swallowed whole. Also, the epilogue jumps two years and just roughly summarizes the interval, in which all kinds of interesting things and developments happened, in a few paragraphs. Really?

– Setting: Grandiose self-aware infodumps that really, honestly, read like a child’s history essay at points. Completely inconsistent technology/awareness thereof – no one is confused when ancient secrets about nuclear physics become a topic of discussion, yet they’re still predominantly wielding swords and bows. Is this supposed to be a medieval-tech society? Is it industrial? Is it electronic? I HAVE NO IDEA, and apparently neither did the author.

– Writing: Started off on a bad foot with countries being referred to as “sovereigns” (that means ruler, not nation) and carried on from there with words that were either incorrectly applied or just plain made up. “Malefically” remains my favorite of the ones that don’t actually exist.

– Characters: Stock fantasy tropes, occasionally with a side of annoying (whatsisface the raccoon) or just plain dumb (the guy who, given the opportunity to kill his lifelong rival and one of the major antagonists, FAILED TO STAB THE DUDE AND NECESSITATED YET ANOTHER LONG DRAWN-OUT SWORDFIGHT WHICH ALMOST KILLED HIM). Relationships were predictable and uncomplicated, and I just generally don’t give a fuck.

Basically: If you want sword and sorcery with woodland creatures, read Redwall. If you want innovative epic fantasy, read any number of other series – if it’s the young female protagonist who must learn to master her powers that gets you, I suggest The Final Empire. But at the end of the day there isn’t enough originality in the concept nor quality in the execution to make this one worth your while.


Much review. So wow.

Much review. So wow.

Okay, so initially that wasn’t easy to read for me, as it’s not particularly polite, but whatever- I’m over it now. As soon as I hit the first sentence I figured it was going to be written by someone who thinks the idea of furry fiction as a whole is pretty laughable. If, on a profile, you write a big declaration that you get HONEST reviews (in big capital letters that MEAN SOMETHING, DUH), generally you’re assured that someone is going to be outspoken and phrase things combatively.

There’s a difference between being honest and being rude. For someone so particular about word definitions, I would suggest learning it.

The main points I take from this:
-Anila took almost as long to review this book as it has taken me to write my second.
-Criticism of the word ‘sovereign’ being used as a term for nation is fairly petty. It’s a fantasy novel, people use unique terms for things all the time, even ‘made up words’ that are apparently so abhorrently amusing. If you’re going to be a reviewer of fantasy books, best prepare for some disappointment if this particular trope bothers you.
– ‘Malefically’ (adverb: ‘in a malefic manner’) is so a word. Even if it isn’t listed by most dictionaries, it’s not a stretch to see that ‘malefic’ actually is, and that ‘ally; is normally added to words to create an adverb form. Getting pedantic over alternative definitions or extractions of words pisses me off. I was criticised at one point for using the word ‘decimated’ as a synonym for ‘ravaged’: I got a comment that read “what, they had 1/10 of the population killed?”. If that’s your favourite definition, then fine, good for you, but there’s another: ‘ kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of ‘. Congratulations on your short-sightedness.
-Foreshadowing is apparently meant to reveal the whole story before it happens. Someone who admits they ‘generally don’t give a fuck’ isn’t going to notice it.
-Reading the ‘in progress’ comments under the review, the reviewer shows more lack of attention to detail, probably brought on by my ‘rough’ writing and poor use of tropes. When Maaka (the surgeon, a falcon) operates, she criticises that BIRDS DON’T HAVE HANDS. Correct. Maaka uses tools strapped to his wings, and objects operated by his beak. He never has hands. Bravo for observation on that one.
-Old review is old.

Too many useful applications for this gif right now, I'm spoilt for choice.

Too many useful applications for this gif right now, I’m spoilt for choice.

Reading this has actually made me aware of some inconsistencies I need to address, like the disparities between the older technologies and Eeres’ current portrayal, and my tendency to infodump (which my editor already brought up with me during the edit for the new version ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO) but I’ll be going through with further revisions of Legacy fairly soon anyway as my publisher goes through its back catalogue.

And considering it’s still averaging a solid 4-star plus rating, I’m not too worried. You can’t please everyone. I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope for a greater response from a Fullmetal Alchemist and Sabriel fan, but never mind. It’s not like every anime/manga/book fan is going to be nice. I don’t even mind (object as much to) a bad review as such if it’s phrased intelligently. But, well…

Yep.

Yep.

Still, I got two stars. That’s more than her review of Game of Thrones, so screw those guys.

I’ll Hold You To That

The title was something someone said to me when I confirmed I’d hopefully be able to update them on a project towards the end of the week. I don’t know if it can be considered innocuous or if I’m just stressed, but it really pissed me off. Probably unnecessarily so. I’m working pretty hard at the moment (although I’m not sure I’m able to say specifically in what capacity), doing a lot of things for other people, and for one that I’ve already been helping both automatically and at their request to say that felt… like a kick up the arse, but not in an encouraging way that I normally appreciate. There’s a group of around a dozen people I’m working with/for, a lot of whom I haven’t been able to touch specifically because I’m working on projects for both this person and someone else. It just jades me when I felt I had started to get on top of things.

I guess you can always do more. But it’s not like I don’t have my own stuff that I really want to finish. I’m a little over a third of the way through Fracture’s edits, and there’s some amazing cover artwork for it that’s coming on really well that I’m desperate to show everyone. And even aside all that, I have an enormous laundry list of projects that I want to finish in my lifetime one way or another.

I actually have a pillow on my desk for this very purpose

I actually have a pillow on my desk for this very purpose

My Wish List

This one’s a little flipped round, because this is a wish list of things that come from me, not to me from others. This is what I have in my head at any give time, for all the projects I want to do. This might explain why it annoyed me so much.

Writing

In the Resonance Tetralogy
Fracture (in edits)
Ruin’s Dawn (started)
Resonance End (plotting)
Spiritus Ex (plotting)

In The Song Chronicle of Thera (Steampunk series)
Firesong: Ballad of Phoenix the Blade (started)
Moonsong: Fugitive of the Snow
Therasong: Heart of the World

In Clandestine
Book One: Protectors
Book Two: Shieldbreaker
Book Three: Tears

Other writing projects
Fantasy Stereotype High School (plotted)
Aeterno (plotted)
Foundation (plotted)
If You Think That’s Hell, You Should Try Working Here (plotted)
The Story of Phoenix the Mechanical Werewolf and Tohru the Electric Corgi: A Steampunk Children’s Tale (drafted, published on Tumblr; would like to get illustrated some day)

Being even half this productive would be great right now

Being even half this productive would be great right now

Costume Projects
Rocket Raccoon (2-3 outfits)
Steampunk Werewolf Mk III (because two isn’t enough punishment for me, apparently. It’s just the head, though. Probably)
Pangolin Fursuit
Mega Lucario
Yugo (from Wakfu)
Mystogan (I swear if it doesn’t work this time I’m going to kill you, you bastard)

Miscellaneous
Voice acting projects, auditions are always ongoing). I’ve been really lucky to be involved with some great productions so far, not least of which includes guest narration of episode 484 of the fantastic Escape Pod podcast. My episode is called That Tear Problem, by Natalia Theadoridou, and you can listen to it here
I have ideas for various comedy podcasts that I haven’t even been able to plan yet, but they’re a distant second to every other item on this list at the moment.

And this doesn’t even mention the stuff I do for work. How hard I work will determine what I get paid. I order for this to be sustaining, I need to dedicate time to my work, or I lose the opportunity to take time to work on what I want to.

In terms of deadlines, only one of these has a specific time limit aside from my work work, and that’s the Rocket Raccoon costume, which I want to get done for Animazement at the end of May. Fracture, unfortunately, while I will get the edits done as soon as I can, may sit impatiently for its release window, as my publishers are fully booked for this year’s novel releases. Small presses have immense respect for artistic integrity, and there’s nobody I would trust more than Inspired Quill with handling my books, but unfortunately it’s partly the nature of the beast that you can only manage a certain number of releases per year until you can widen your foundations. I have always wanted to keep my books affordable and if I self-published it, I’d be forced to charge a fairly unreasonable minimum price to get a markup that would earn me a living.

Pictured: current events

Pictured: current events

So while I know I’m not always great at keeping with things, it’s not like I’m being lazy. Please don’t accuse me of that. If I’m TRULY not doing anything, I’ll have to convince myself that I might actually deserve it, even just for a little while.

Because if there’s one person who has always told me ‘I’ll hold you to that,’ and unforgivably so, it’s me.

Endings and Beginnings

It’s been a while since I last posted in here, and there I was thinking that I’d turned over a new leaf in productivity.

Well, I have now!

Fracture’s manuscript is finally finished. It needs editing and it’s a little shorter than Legacy so far, but there’s a lot in there. I hope I can do justice to all the great comments people have been sending my way. Thank you again for all your encouragement. It means the world to me.

To give some background as to what I’ve been up to and why this is ACTUALLY different: I quit my full-time job to write; specifically to finish up the Resonance Tetralogy and dedicate myself more to my passions and try to make them part of my living. They’ve been in my head and part of my dreams for such a long time. I couldn’t take having to restrict myself from them any longer. I’ve been very lucky to be supported in this, and I will try my hardest to get everything finished quickly. I think I’ll have a much greater incentive to do that from now on. No distractions, no excuses. Except cosplay, but that won’t take over my life so extensively. I swear.

funny-anime-girl1

This happens a lot when I’m writing. Or making costumes. Just generally.

So, what happens now?

I write. Passionately and extensively. I’ll also pepper this blog with updates so everyone can know what I’m up to and what the status of the book is, where you can get it from, and various other things I’m doing either in conjunction with Resonance or separate from it. This’ll mainly stay a creative blog though. But I’m always happy to answer questions, and if something is of particular interest to me I’ll make an article out of it. I’m looking forward to that.

Plus there's that real world crap to catch up with. Ugh.

Plus there’s that real world bollocks to catch up with. Ugh, I’m so behind.

So, as a teaser for the next few weeks/months… you guys like artwork, right?

Cool.

I will be pre-emtively excited while dropping infuriating hints, to you all, bwahaha.

I will be pre-emptively overexcited while dropping infuriating hints to you all, bwahaha.