Fangs of K'aath: A Tale of Aku-Mashad Hardcover – Apr 1 2000
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Above all else, this book is a romance, about the love between Sandhri, a storytelling beggar, and Raschid, scholar and heir to the Shah. Their love is, of course, unheard of; how could a noble possibly be seen with a filthy street beggar, let alone profess his love as loudly and thoroughly as Raschid?
Sandhri is more than a match for the young prince, though. Her fast tongue and quick mind weave stories for all who will listen, perhaps allowing her to say more than is proper. Her days in the street have given her talents that prove surprisingly effective when dealing with the haughty nobility and corrupt merchants that Raschid must face. She's not "merely" a love interest; she's a lead, and a strong one at that.
Through this central theme weave other stories; Sandhri's childhood, and why she lives on the streets. An expidition to create peace between the kingdom of Osra and the nomadic desert folk, who have been raiding the city's caravans. And a mysterious rival, who apparently wants either Raschid, or Sandhri, or possibly both of them, dead. These and many other threads run through the story, changing it from a simple fairy tale to a richly-detailed tapestry.
Paul is an excellent writer; I've heard some poor reviews of the material he's written for companies such as TSR, but I, personally, have never had a single complaint about any of his original material. The hardest part of reading this book, initially, is puzzling through Raschid's cultured "thees" and "thous", and Sandhri's thick accent. Once you get into the book, though, they simply make this a richer read, adding to the setting and flavor, and making the characters come alive. Once more, Paul has managed to avoid writing a book. Rather, it's an experience.
It takes a spectacular book, these days, for me to read nonstop without simply tiring of reading. This definitely did it. I gladly put this book high on my list of recommendations, along with Whisper. My only regret is that it weren't longer; I could have gone on reading about these colorful, lively, and utterly REAL characters for quite some time!
Though I will try to keep the spoilage down to where you will recognize the points when you encounter them in the story without trying to give away *many* major plot points.
Lack of sufficient foreshadowing on: Disney Style Love conquers all, Magic being introduced late in the show, Some but too small foreshadowing on K'aath and corruption (I wish that the villains were more trope aware).
The existence of the mixed species groups without the logical mutt mongrel mix of many species in one critter, and the following logical end of most of the lower class being the love children of mixed species to the nth degree. Similar not quite thought out stuff, rare but there.
This is a nice story to pick up writing tips from, both what to do and what to never do. I may just be too old for this, I can see through some stories that I loved as a teen, and I do not read them anymore.
Using Heinlein titles as dialog, even once. Other dialog thrown in as reference joke, even once.
Artist did not pay attention to heroine's religious preference changes. Or to her hairstyle changes, IIRC.
This also suffers from 'all critters are really just alike', no species differentiation problem other than appearance. Just about the only major species difference is our heroine's speech problem. No other species has anything like that, including others from her general area. There is more difference between the princes than there is between the various species.
The cover gives quite a bit of the first half of the story away.
Positives and yes buts:
Art enhanced the story the way that Leetah's shocked face on an ElfQuest cover accented the insides.
Really good art facial expressions.
Basic story is not bad once you get past the above problems. It does need a rewrite to put the above to rest, but it is possible that a complete rewrite would dissolve the story once more inconsistencies are taken care of.
A good Genesis story, but without the background for positive good magic.
Occasional very vivid and quality descriptions, especially of emotional states.
No Kevin and Kell morality: intelligent people do not eat people, or I did not notice if they did.
It may be that this is the best that the furry writers can do. I hope not, and hope for better elsewhere.
From the noble, heroic Raschid and feisty, quick-witted Sandhri to the strong-willed yet tragic Yarïm and the mischievously cute Itbit, and so many in-between. Even the so-called secondary characters seem as alive as real people.
Not only that, but the plot comes together so well that the entire way through I was left gripping the cover wondering how things would turn out for the characters in the face of so many perils.
Fangs is definitely side-by-side with A Whisper of Wings (Volume 1) (Kashran Cycle) as my favorite novels of all time (Heh, I could go on for paragraphs about Whisper; it was so wonderful! I could definitely see traces and themes of that story within this one), and what's more is that there's a continuation to their adventures! That's right, Paul Kidd's actually written a sequel continuing the tale of the Kingdom of Osra (but I warn you now, read the FIRST book before even looking at the next; don't even read the description to Fangs II, as it might spoil some of the events of the first story, and trust me, this is a tale best experienced on a clean slate. It makes the suspense and the ending so much more satisfying!).
It's a shame such a wonderful novel is so rare, but well worth the search for those looking for a fantastic, intriguing tale.
Again, such a marvelous story. Like the Kashran realm of A Whisper of Wings, the world of Aku-Mashad and its magnificent characters will not be soon forgotten.