Black Silver, Red Gold: The Dark Forest
by Mark Stevens

"He had, for the first time, glimpsed the wounded heart of the tough, battle-hardened vixen he both admired, and feared. And loved."

Kian Silverfur, aka the 21-year-old Nightshadow, is a fox who joins an outlaw band by force. Her friends are 18-year-old Tarric, a dogfox, and Aggus, an older wolf and Kian’s confidant. Kildirk Drakken, the leader of the fox band, punishes Tarric, but Nightshadow takes his place and is whipped 35 times. After Aggus dies as a result of a fight with Kildirk, Nightshadow asks for a week’s journey away with Tarric, but her real plan is to escape Kildirk and Bulloch, a wolf who is Kildirk’s enemy. Kian kills two foxes after one fox stabs and blinds Tarric, and the two grow closer during the challenges of their journey. The travelers dine and bunk with wolves Josaiha and Naomi Longbrush, and Kian nurses Naomi back to life when she becomes ill. Tarric saves Josaiha from attacking foxes, after which the travelers move on to Brockton.

This fantasy novel is a story of bravery, danger, adventure, and budding relationships. The setting of the story is a dark forest in medieval times. Kian's character is physically attractive and admired by multiple male characters throughout the book, including Tarric and Kildirk. Her wisdom comes from a lifetime of adventure, adversity, and childhood tragedy. Her aloofness and suspicion of others allow only a few characters to understand her true nature and past. Tarric appears naive and vulnerable at the beginning of the book, as evidenced by his careless wandering outside the tent—which leads to Kian taking a beating to spare Tarric pain. As the journey progresses, he becomes stronger and demonstrates his intelligence and willingness to risk his life to save Kian. The reader is primed for a sequel as the book concludes with the journey to Brockton, the capital city... and Tarric’s hometown.

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