Review by Hypetaph
If there were one word to describe “Slave Trade” by Comidacomida, it would easily be “surprising.” This 466-page novel chronicles the story of its protagonist Sidney—introduced as a fox house slave to Lord Hector Desanti of Pross—and his rise among the ranks of both those of property and those of power.
When a mysterious character known only as Fate Weaver leads Sidney to be his Lord’s errand-runner, Sidney could not imagine that this decision would save his life more than once. Following this choice, Sidney is thrust first into the role of a Slave Master, then to an overseer of a gladiator stable, later to a confused political tool, and soon to a curious title of rumor that even the King himself fears. Along the way he meets friends, enemies, and watches as some turn to the other in a world where no one is quite who they seem to be.
Slave Trade’s plot is steeped in its world’s politics. Comidacomida’s world-building is fantastic, which makes the politics all the more engaging. The reader really gets a sense of Pross’s laws, the way Lords and the King interact, how slaves are valued and varied: there is a clear hierarchy that allows for real excitement when one watches Sidney surpass his limitations. The characters (with maybe one or two exceptions) are all almost wholly unique, with fleshed-out origins, personalities, opinions, and even accents and languages.
On that last point is one of my few critiques: Maern—the foreigner horse that Sidney buys under Lord Hector’s request—does not speak Prossian upon his introduction. This leads to some cute and characterizing scenes, though they often felt longer than necessary and far too frequent to reiterate the point that he cannot speak with them.
Beyond that one mildly-aggravating characterization, the inhabitants of Slave Trade’s pages were all very consistent in behavior, and their growth felt natural, justified, and well-paced. Hector remains hopeful to a fault; Sidney—despite his successes—remains timid and confused, though visibly evolves; Lord Talvin is cryptic and conniving, though ever-friendly (and admittedly my favorite character) throughout; Ulric starts and stays headstrong and aggressive; I could go on. Comidacomida clearly put a lot of thought into the personality of Pross’s characters, and it makes for incredibly enjoyable dialogue and organic development.
Fair notice: this book is heavily erotic. Numerous male-on-male scenes pepper the storyline, and more often than not they feel like an integral part of the plot. Sidney, having once been a “pleasure slave” is well-versed in sexual capabilities and uses such knowledge to his advantage on more than one occasion. While at first, the trope of a sexualized fox character had me roll my eyes, I was impressed with Comidacomida’s utilization of Sidney’s history as a means to propel the story: his being so sexual had actual bearing on the progression of the events, and I was glad that after most scenes of promiscuity there was an accomplishment in it having been so. My one concern regarding the novel’s sexual content its frivolous use of rape: while framed in the world of Pross as a commonality of slave life (in the form of sold breeding or punishment), far too often afterwards it is inconsequential and felt as though such scenes could have been omitted at no cost to the story.
For furries—particularly ones interested in politically-influenced narratives, and especially those that enjoy gay erotica—this book will not disappoint. Every few chapters grace the reader with gorgeous full-page illustrations, only adding to the novel’s immersion. Its characters are varied, its plot is exciting, its mysteries are engaging—all of which culminate in the last 150 pages as such a roller coaster of betrayal, magic, action, life and death, and more betrayal that I could not set the book down. Exclusively hardback with stunning full-cover, full-color cover design, “Slave Trade” would make a fine addition to anyone’s bookshelf.