I’d heard of The Builders through the grapevine (r/Fantasy) and figured I’d try it. It’s nice and short, and gave me a nice taste of Daniel Polansky’s writing style, unless that changes per book, of course. You never know.
The members of the Captain’s company split up years ago, scattered to the most remote corners of the Garden, keeping their heads down. But the Captain is not content to just lay down and die. He has a plan. A plan to get revenge for their last job. That last disastrous job.
I already knew that I was going to like this novella when I saw the cover. Anthropomorphic animals? Count me in! In a way, reading The Builders was much like reading The Black Company, or any of James Barclay’s books that deal prominently with The Raven. The animals in The Builders felt like the human characters in those books, had the same kind of sense of brotherhood, the same kind of no-nonsense way of dealing with things.
Even though in the beginning of the novella you don’t know what has happened to them during their last job, only that it involved some kind of betrayal, I felt connected to these weary creatures who were still hurting. Who were still not over what happened. Some were wounded, some permanently handicapped, and it’s hard not to root for them when they decide to get even.
The surviving members of the company all had their own personalities, and there was never a moment where I was confused about who was who and who was doing what.
I don’t know whether or not I expected it to end the way it did, but it was a fitting end. The play on the title of the novella itself was also, in a way, fitting to the story. I’m looking forward to reading more of Polansky’s work.