BOOK REVIEW: Breed To Come
Mamma Bear Book Review
*A bear trundles in with a book under one, fuzzy arm*
I suppose I should begin this particular review with a caveat. I am an enormous Andre Norton fan. You might go so far as to say Norton worshipper, but that's probably too personal to share online. :)
I have a dedicated "Norton shelf" in the library, and I'd be very, very hard pressed to give any of her books a less than stellar review. So, take this one for what it is--I make no apologies.
As much as I love Norton, and have found many of her books that featured sentient animals delightful, I had no idea that she'd written a fully furry book until I picked up Breed to Come. It had been languishing on the Norton shelf for awhile and because of the 1970s abstract cover (not the one pictured above) I had no idea what a glorious find it was until I began reading.
Breed to Come is set on a post-human Earth. Due to some virus or plague, the humans have all skedaddled, though there is a prophecy that they will return at some point. The planet has been left to the uplifted animal races, created by experiments and abandoned when their makers vanished. They have survived whatever drove the humans off, and thrived, making their own various societies.
The story centers around the cat-people living in warrior clans in the caves outside the ruins of an old human city. Our protagonist is about to test his skill in an annual ritual to earn the right to mate and breed, and that's where it all sort of goes awry for him, launching him on an adventure into human territory and a subset of cats who are attempting to learn what they can about the technology there in case the humans do return.
Aside from the cats, we have societies of dog-people, pig-people, and the unappealing rat-people who still dwell in the human ruins and remain loyal to their missing makers. Do you see what I mean about fully furry? This classic is tailor made for the furry reader. It is full of adventure, politics, mystery, and the magic of a lost civilization that just might not be as lost as the animals hope.
I give Breed to Come a glorious five claws, but then, you already knew I would, right?
The protagonist cat is sympathetic and complex. You bond with his dilemma immediately, and the wider cast of characters are all intriguing and unique.
World-building: The world is wonderfully furry. Lost tech and ancient cities are a staple in Norton's work, and she weaves the mystery of it in very believable ways that are riddled with adventure and danger.
The story flows beautifully, fast enough to keep the reader hooked, but leisurely enough to include rich description and deep development.
The uplifted animals were the icing on the cake for me. Each species has developed a different culture and the interactions between them were beautifully complicated. The only somewhat "flat" society was the rats who were a little bit universally villainous, albeit in a very believable way. Overall, I can't imagine a reader of furry fiction not adoring Breed To Come.