cover image Feasting with Panthers

Feasting with Panthers

Lyle Blake Smythers. Pink Narcissus (, $16.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-0-9829913-7-4

In this wildly uneven debut, Smythers offers up a series of interconnected stories, mixing fantasy, fairy tales, and adventure. Self-proclaimed warrior-poet Catalan rescues the wounded, one-eyed Talin from bandits. Talin is one of several agents in service to a powerful Lady, questing for the lost pieces of a magical chess set. Catalan agrees to help but quickly discovers that things are more complicated than anticipated. As he meets the Lady's other agents, he catches glimpses of the larger picture. Talin's story is hallucinatory, almost free form in its hypnotic stream-of-consciousness. Other segments are less stylized, but Catalan's portions are drenched with an excess of description and imagery, drowning the narrative in over-the-top poeticism. Characters frequently spew forth bits of trivia or infodumps, desperate to share their knowledge but adding little to the plot. The potentially strong story suffers as a result. (May)