By Tooth and Claw
by S.M. Stirling, Mercedes Lackey & Cody Martin, Eric Flint, and Jody Lynn Nye
Cover Artist: Stephen Hickman
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476780405
Date: 07 April 2015 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The great flood is changing the world and its borders forcing the mammalian Mrem to flee and risk conflict with the reptilian Liskash. On an Earth where a comet struck to kill off the dinosaurs, the Mrem and Liskash compete for territory. The Liskash have great telepathic powers that they are able to use to control other beings and animals. Some Mrem have telepathic powers as well, but they must work together to fight off the powerful Liskash.
By Tooth and Claw is the second collection of stories in this shared universe. In this collection are four new tales of flight, conflict, and survival. Mercedes Lackey & Cody Martin offer "Bury my Heart", the story of the flight of the Clan of the Long Fang. As their lowland home was swamped by a massive flood, the clan fled to higher ground. They have lost nearly everything, including the dancers that can protect them from the Liskash. Escaping the bottom lands will cost them even more.
"A Clan’s Foundation", by S.M. Stirling, continues a story from the first collection. The slave Mrem are now free and escaping the lands of their former master. They hope to find the Clan of the Claw before they are captured by a new master. Their opportunity is helped as Liskash vie for power after the former Lord died.
Eric Flint pens the third story, "Sanctuary". In this story, there is a new group of Liskash introduced. They fear the consolidation attempts by a powerful Liskash Lord. By chance, they discover the ability to work with Mrem to become more powerful than they could be otherwise. The two species working together will try to create peace and prosperity.
"Feeding a Fever", by Jody Lynn Nye, is a cautionary tale about being too dependent on others. When the fleeing Mrem begin to become sick with a deadly fever, several Mrem go in search of a cure. Just as salvation is at hand, they are captured by Liskash. The Lisaksh are starving in an area with plentiful food that they do not know how to harvest. The Mrem must find a way to make the Liskash self-sufficient or escape before the Lailah Clan dies out.
As noted above this is the second collection set in this alternate universe. I enjoy the conflict that has been developed and the way the two species interact. The authors that have been brought in to make this universe are all top-notch story tellers. Although all of the stories are good, I liked "Sanctuary" the most as it is the one that allows for the possibility of peaceful coexistence.
The stories remind me a little of two different universes. The first is a collection from Harry Turtledove, Down in the Bottomlands. The other is the ongoing Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson which also includes a conflict between mammals and reptiles that developed when there wasn't a major extinction event. Both are well written and entertaining.
As the second book in a shared universe, it isn't the best starting place, but in this case since most of the characters are not returning from the first collection, new readers can jump in without too much difficulty. Anyone who enjoys a good adventure story will find something to like here.