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If you read the kind of stories that I write, then I'm going to guess that you're also familiar with the works of kyellgold (and if you're not, well, you'll only be doing yourself a favor by checking out his stuff). Over Further Confusion 2007, his latest published work for his Argaea setting, The Prisoner's Release and Other Stories, was released, and it's available for purchase now over at the Sofawolf Press website.

Anyone who has read Kyell Gold's two novels, Volle and Pendant of Fortune, can look forward to experiencing that world again, and can look forward to revisiting familiar characters and meeting some new faces in this anthology. There are some great stories to be told outside of the context of a novel, and that's where this collection of shorter tales really shines: it helps to flesh out an already-familiar world, and lets the reader take a look at some things that they might otherwise not get to see in the political context of Volle and its sequel.

The book is comprised of four stories that, while not directly connected, do follow in chronological order to form a sort of 'interquel' between Volle and Pendant of Fortune. As such, it fills in some gaps, but it also adds a lot of original material that readers should enjoy whether they've already read Pendant of Fortune or not (though I might not recommend it to folks who have not at least read Volle, first).

Again, Kyell Gold manages to put great focus on character and storytelling, while being able to weave explicitly erotic--yet still relevant and non-gratuitous--material in where appropriate. As with the novels that have set these stories up, there's real heart and merit to the stories beyond the fact that they happen to also be very adult in nature. This is a tricky balance to maintain, but he again does it well.

"Inside the Cage" is the first story, following Jonas, one of the workers at the Jackal's Staff. The longest of the stories in the book, it's also perhaps the most engaging, as well. Determination to live a better life starts to well up in Jonas' mind, leading first to fantasies and then desperation to run off with one of his handsome vulpine clients. What follows is a tale that flows very organically, keeping tight focus on Jonas, his actions, and his emotions as he tries to escape the life he's known in order to forge something better for himself.

Next are "The Prisoner's Release" and "Home Again," a pair of stories that fit nicely back-to-back, chronicling how Volle first meets Streak and then setting up for the beginning of Pendant of Fortune. Tracking down the original issues of Heat where "The Prisoner's Release" was first published is somewhat difficult, by now, so getting to have it alongside a trio of new stories is great in its own right, and the story itself has been given a bit of a polish since its original printing, too. "Home Again" serves as a nice counterpoint, replacing Volle's struggle to escape captivity with the new conflict of what he wants to do with his newfound freedom that he's won with this wolf he barely knows. Perhaps best enjoyed if read before having had a chance to read Pendant of Fortune, these stories nevertheless stay true enough to the emotional center of Volle himself that, even knowing some of what happens after, it's great to be able to get the chance to see him in this stretch of time between novels.

Last up is "For Love or Family," which has the distinction of being the first (and currently only) story in Argaea told from a first-person viewpoint. This is a sweet yet still emotionally-charged story about a young gay wolf falling in love with a prostitute--with the added complication that he happens to also be a noble son with a duty to marry for wealth and land. A great job is done in making the main character feel very young, idealistic, insecure, and optimistic all at the same time, and it manages to conjure up a lot of sympathy while telling a story that, while it might not be as full of labyrnthine political machinations as the novels, still has a pretty solid back to itself.

All told, these are all stories that any fan of Kyell Gold's original novels will certainly enjoy. Everything that made the original two books work happens to work again here, with the added bonus of showcasing new parts of the world and highlighting the lives of new characters that all have compelling stories of their own.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
Thoroughly seconded! I agree that the book may be less accessible and possibly less enjoyable for those who haven't read Volle... I wonder if Sofawolf are considering putting out a collector's case for the Argaea tryptich? :)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )