Blind Eye Books, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-935560-34-0
This is book two of an ongoing story, so if you have never heard of the series before, and you want to buy this book because, while you are squinting from the light, the cover seems to you like it has Mowgli from The Jungle Book being assaulted by randy plant tentacles, you should start reading from Champion of the Scarlet Wolf Book One. In fact, this review probably won’t make sense much as I’d try to avoid revealing spoilers to the previous book as much as I can, but I’d do my best to make it worth your while. Maybe I’d stick a picture of a hot naked guy at the end of the review… hah, made you look!
Anyway, since the events in the previous book, our fantasy Mowgli, Skellan, finds himself elevated into a lofty position that challenges his ability to embrace the nuances of politics and nuances. Unlike the previous book, this one shifts the focus from Elezar – who is now reduced to “bodyguard with benefits” – to Skellan, and the bulk of the story has a more sedate pace as Mowgli Moo tries to get used to all these things, occasionally stomping his foot now and then because, at the end of the day, he’s still a brat. Meanwhile, I don’t know why, but the author sees fit to include this early in the story.
His rocky thighs brushed the buildings on either side of the narrow street and a musky smell rolled off his pendulous genitals in waves. The odor caught in Elezar’s throat, tasting sweet as the wild grasses that sprouted all across Bone-crusher’s body but also pungent as a prison cell.
Bone-crusher is a troll. If you want a visual, I guess he may look like this:
So, every time he is in the scene, I feel like spraying a heavy-duty scent all around me, because as much as I respect everyone’s right to touch himself or herself to all kinds of things as per Rule 34, I can’t stop recalling that his gigantic scrotum smells like a prison cell, and cringe as a result – every time. Why does the author do this to me?
And no, nobody gets to get busy with those pendulous genitals, so again, I don’t know why the author feels the need to describe that.
Champion of the Scarlet Wolf Book Two is a readable story, although be warned, it’s much longer than the average full-length book in the market, so the scent of giant troll dong will haunt you for a very long time. My biggest disappointment lies in the fact that our heroes know who the bad guy is, and yet, the story contrives to allow him to run around for a long time. Also, and it’s probably just me, but I always feel that Elezar is more interesting in an Artemis Entreri version 2.0 way compared to Mowgli Moo, so the story feels less interesting when it shifts the spotlight to the latter. I don’t see why Elezar goes so far out of his way to make Mowgli Moo happy, and the gulf of maturity between those two only makes Mowgli Moo even less interesting as a result. Despite its very Western fantasy trappings, the whole story has a “when tsundere meets borderline yandere” vibes to it, although to give the author credit, the identities of the seme and the uke in this story are less clear cut. Whatever the main characters may be, they are not cut from a stereotypical cloth.
I also like how the author attempts to show me that Mowgli Moo is not too perfect in the end, although, because the story lacks a well-defined villain, a cynical part of me wonders whether this gesture is just for show, sort of like how a beauty pageant winner would act in false modesty as she accepts the crown.
Anyway, the whole thing is in many ways a typical fantasy series by the author, and I wish the author would create a more well-defined and compelling villain to make things more interesting in her next series. This one is still a little too focused on the main characters for a story with such a premise, and I personally feel that Mowgli Moo isn’t interesting enough to hog so much point of view in this one. It’s not bad, this book, but I feel that the party was more happening in the first book.
Oh, and then there’s the troll dong pong. Why, god, why?