Lycanthrope cage fighters, blood and, ultimately, death. Only that isn’t really what this book is about at all. It’s about decency being forced to bend the knee to corporate ambition.
One man and his wolf expected to throw their last fight.
What we have here is an exploration of duality, and of the twisting of decency to serve the purpose of expediency.
It’s handled with sensitivity and a certain good humour, making it easy reading.
A solid four stars.
Science Fantasy Meets WWE
Roy van Waldenberger is an entertainer – but he entertains by fighting. He is also a therianthrope – a werewolf. But unlike the traditional idea of a lycanthrope he is very much in control of his wolf – most of the time. Roy is looking forward to winning a last big title then retiring. but then he learns that he is expected to throw the fight and that runs completely against the grain for the fighter once known as The Honest Man.
What I Really Enjoyed:
This is a fully a realised science fantasy setting and the feeling of depth and breadth is there right from the start when Roy wanders into a local bazaar. It is not over described it is carefully and cleverly woven into the story as part of a seamless fabric.
The characters are very convincing and well drawn. Roy is someone it is easy to empathise with and the relationship between himself and Jen is one of the most realistically presented cross-gender friendships I have ever read.
The author very cleverly introduces the way therianthropes are and how they fit into the world as a whole. These are not classic lycanthropes. Instead, it seems more of a symbiosis between the animal spirit and the human. I really liked this fresh take on an old notion.
What I Struggled With:
Two things – one a technical issue the other a bit of a story issue. One: the author had the bad habit of building tension brilliantly then putting in a paragraph of something that completely shattered the moment. Two: the possible responses to Roy being told to throw the fight were presented as a binary option when even I could think of at least three other ways the problem could have been tackled within the context of the story. Considering the amount of time Roy spent thinking about it and discussing it, and how incredibly significant it was to find some solution, I found that very hard to believe that no other ideas were even mooted.
I really enjoyed this book and want to know how the story goes on. It had that feeling of real people caught up in a difficult situation with high stakes, set in a solid and fascinating world. If you enjoy well-written spec fic of any shade, I think this might well appeal. 4.5 stars, rounded up.