June 7, 2016

The Builders by Daniel Polansky

Blurb: A missing eye.
A broken wing.
A stolen country.

The last job didn't end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain's company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain's whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.

Format: I am reviewing the Kindle edition of this novella which was 226 pages in length. The novella was originally published by Tor.com in November of 2015. The novel is told in 3rd person limited POV with a fairly small cast of characters. 

I can't remember the last fantasy novel I read that the characters were not human, elven, dwarvish, or orcish. One of the fantasy genre's greatest tropes is having these 'normal' fantasy characters. It is not so in Daniel Polansky's The Builders, and that is quite refreshing! In this tale, the characters are all animals familiar to us in a fantastical version of Earth.

The lead character is the Captain, a physically damaged mouse whose general grumpiness and hatred are public knowledge among his peers. The Captain was presumed dead 5 years prior to the start of this story. The harsh animal crew he did jobs with have all moved on to carry out their lives with the mostly non-criminal normalcy that befits each personality. But the Captain wants to get the company back together again. Some go willingly, others not so much. 

The story has a sort of piracy era/heist sort of feel to it. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are legendary in the world that the story develops in. The tale itself is one of redemption for the Captain and it would be wrong of a potential reader to assume that because the main characters are all animals that this story is somehow lacking in the darker qualities of the genre. There is great action, dialogue and no shortage of violent moments throughout. The prose was excellent and it all came to a head at the end that satisfied and also surprised at the same time. 

It's a fairly short read that can be finished in only a few sittings but it's well worth your money. This was my first brush with Daniel Polansky's writing but I am interested in the way he writes and I will surly be seeking more of his other work in the genre. As always, let me know what you think of this story or others similar in the comments below.

About the Author: Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy and the forthcoming Empty Throne duology, among other things. He can be found in Brooklyn, when he isn't somewhere else.

Author's Website: Daniel Polansky's Website

Buy the Book: The Builders on Amazon

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