Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Review: Blood Jaguar

I noticed this was the book of the month for December, so I went back through my archives to pull out my old review of it. So far my old list of ‘Top Ten Furry Books’ seems to be surprisingly accurate. Forests of the Night appears to have become popular on this forum, and now Blood Jaguar is the book of the month. Here’s rooting for the awesome Samurai Cat series to show up next!

Please Note: Minor Spoilers.

The Blood Jaguar
Author: Michael H. Payne
Published: 1999
Title: The Blood Jaguar
Publisher: Tor Books / Sofawolf
ISBN: 978-1-936689-14-9[/tt]

Here’s a novel that slipped my mind for years until I started writing this list.

Possibly the most difficult to classify of all the books here, The Blood Jaguar is… a fairy tale. This book is amazingly close to a story a father might make up for his children as he sends them off to sleep.

But calling The Blood Jaguar nothing more than a bedtime story would be an injustice equal to calling The Hobbit nothing more than a tale J.R.R Tolkien thought up for his children.

This book follows all the stereotypes you might expect from a ‘talking animal’ fable. It’s cute, it has (at first) a simple moral and plot, and it’s somewhat child friendly.

But like any good story, it grows from there. The plot never strays too far from its fairy tale roots, but you quickly get to feel that the characters of Bobcat, Fisher, and Skink are real people, with complex and distinct personalities.

The plot is a bit much to get into, but suffice it to say it begins in storybook fashion with the little lizzard Skink losing his luck. From there it quickly becomes a journey across the world, a battle of magic riddles, and eventually leads to Bobcat exploring the world beyond death.

I suppose the fact ‘I should reread this book’ is the most telling thing about this book, as opposed to ‘I have reread it’. It’s great, but it also fell from my mind after I finished it. It wasn’t like some of the other stories on this list where I turned around and read them a second time.

Final Word:
I really need to go back and reread this book. While the plot is dark enough you likely wouldn’t want to read it to ones that are too little, but it’s more than enough to hold an adult’s attention. And, if you have a child who’s getting old enough to outgrow such things as bedtime stories, this might be just the ticket.

I was actually going to make this book the Review of the Month, then realized I was honestly going to have a hard time getting through it. I really don’t do fantasy and whimsical fantasy is almost as hard for me as a knight and elf fantasy story. Decided to go the bit of an easier route.

I’ll get to this one day I hope. One day…

Gonna copypaste from my Goodreads account again:

I tore through the Kindle edition in a weekend of travelling. It’s a jolly fantasy in the classic journey-quest vein, with three bickering travellers heading off to confront the Blood Jaguar and prevent a cyclical plague which kills 50% of the population every hundred years or so.

And what a lovable population. Otter labourers, rabbit farmers, exotic meerkats - you really don’t want to think about these creatures dying horribly, so you feel the urgency of the mission Bobcat, Skink and Fisher are on.

The twist is that Bobcat, like The Hobbit’s Bilbo, thinks his quest is a load of nonsense. He doesn’t believe in the Twelve Curials, the spirit animals who preside over his world, he certainly doesn’t think of himself as any kind of hero - oh, and he has a small catnip problem. Can Fisher and Skink straighten him out in time for the showdown?

The action never really rose to a peak for me. There’s more about eating and sleeping and travelling than there is of danger and adventure, but it’s so charmingly and humorously written, with so many little details of this furry world, that I couldn’t really hold a grudge.


Am I the only one that finds it interesting that we’ve both compared it against The Hobbit?

I wonder how common a thought that is? For me, Bobcat’s cynicism and unwillingness to set out on the quest was pure Bilbo.

I don’t think it’s that uncommon a thought, and Wind in the Willows comparisons came to my mind pretty early. (I remember the original story from FurVersion, “Rat’s Reputation,” that started it all out.)

AFAIK, The Blood Jaguar holds the unusual distinction of being the first – and to date, only – novel that came out of furry fandom to be published by a major mainstream publisher in hardcover. I’m not sure how many of the rest of us have tried since, of course.

Imagine my shock:

 Stopping by here for the first time in months and finding this!

 All I find I really have to say, though, is that I've always thought of [i]Blood Jaguar[/i] as a fantasy story about science and that it's structured roughly along the lines of the old Roman epic poem The Aeneid...

 Oh, and if anyone wants to hear a live reading I did of the sequel, [i]Rat's Reputation[/i], a couple years ago on my radio program, there's an archive of 20 muddy mp3 files [url=http://www.kuci.org/darklingeclectica/rats.html]here[/url]--each installment runs about half an hour.  Sofawolf's supposed to be publishing it on paper at some point, but I haven't heard from them since this past summer, so who knows when that'll be?


For a few years I was buying up and reading just about every furry or animal-oriented story I could get my hands on. I have at least two hundred mass-market paperbacks, which doesn’t count those in other formats, those read online, or borrowed from the library. Of those, I would rank The Blood Jaguar as being among my top five. The characters were enjoyable and memorable and the situation got my mind racing with possibilities.

One oddity about it is that the Bison King chapter is almost a side story dropped in the middle. While that chapter makes an interesting and amusing story in itself, it’s not really that closely connected to the rest of the novel.

I’m also looking forward to the publication of Rat’s Reputation, of which I’ve listened to the aforementioned audiobook edition twice, and am hoping the author has more works in this setting forthcoming.

Here is my two bits’ worth: