12 June 2013

Review: Tsavo Pride by Laura Diamond

Rogue shapeshifters, Santamo and Legeny, believe they are kings blessed with the power to shift into lions. Using that strength, they brutally defend their land from the British building the Ugandan Railroad that threatens their way of life. On a particularly ruthless raid, Santamo meets his match—Naserian. He spares the girl’s life, a move that fractures his relationship with Legeny and blurs his visions of cleansing his territory of invaders.

While the pile of bones in Santamo and Legeny’s cave grows, so does Santamo’s attraction to Naserian. When she challenges him to give up his murderous ways, will Santamo stay on the path of death he believes is his duty, or will he choose Naserian, and love?
Tsavo Pride is a companion short story to Diamond’s novel Shifting Pride (review here) and brings the story of the Tsavo lions, the shifters Nickie Leone briefly reads about as she’s learning about her true shifter nature—“For example, the lions of Tsavo, Africa, were frequently thought to have been shape-shifters gone rogue, former kings taking revenge on European invaders.”
That is exactly the story Diamond gives us. Though it’s brief, it’s also powerful and tragic. Diamond quickly tosses us into the mix as we watch the British, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, construct a railroad through the heart of Santamo’s territory. As the alpha of a two-man pack, Santamo takes it upon himself to figure out a way to stop Patterson. All the while, his brother and beta, Legeny, craves blood.
Diamond does an excellent job of getting the reader to crave more. Santamo’s dark imagery and defiance are palpable as we get the story from his first person viewpoint. He and his brother are not kind, yet there’s still a likeability to the alpha that keeps the reader invested in his revenge plot, even though in the end, it costs him everything he loves.

Readers who’ve loved Diamond’s intelligent and sometimes gritty world of shifter political intrigue would love Tsavo Pride, especially considering how this story helps shape our understanding of just how powerful the Leone line of black panthers truly is. By itself, Tsavo is able to stand on its own four paws as a beautifully tragic tale of how grief and anger and revenge can rob a person of what he desires most. 

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