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(5 out of 5 stars) by James Steele

The first (and hopefully not the last) novel set in New Tibet. When I read the back cover, introducing what the story was about, I groaned. The back cover all but broadcasts how the main character is going to develop. Melinda starts off as a spoiled rich girl, and you can guess where that setup is going to take her. But the execution saves the whole idea. It’s not trite, it never feels forced or heavy-handed and it flows nicely. It happened so gradually I barely noticed the change.

Melinda’s story is satisfying, but I was more fascinated by the development of her father, Barda. It’s a well-executed and downright fascinating substory of regression. By “fascinating” I mean like watching a tornado tearing up a house, or a forest fire reducing thousands of trees to ash: you know it’s a horrific tragedy, but at the same time it’s beautiful and you can’t take your eyes off it. Think Macbeth as a tiger. When Melinda’s story lagged, Barda’s story kept me going.

The other characters are just as interesting. The plot they entangle themselves in does make sense, and the Shivers’ role becomes clear at the end, although I probably wouldn’t have understood who they were unless I had read the short story collections first. The inclusion of Ghost Town had me a little uneasy until it was presented in better context--a New Tibetian context. Once the story established the purpose of Ghost Town, and its presence fit into the general theme of this world, everything became possible.

There’s a lot going on in this book. Lots of plot strands, lots of details that didn’t seem important at first, and it all comes together very well except for one or two nitpicky points I won't bother mentioning.

The environment descriptions are a bit weak. I didn’t feel the biting cold of this planet, or the unusual heat of the river. Ghost Town was especially begging to be more vivid. But I’ve always had a fascination with Chernobyl, so maybe I’m the only one who wanted to feel the radiation. I think the same about Watership Down, and likewise the story Common and Precious tells is strong enough to make up for the weak scenery. It’s a good book to get lost in.
31 May, 2007

(5 out of 5 stars) by K.M. Hirosaki

Tim Susman's 'Common and Precious' is the first novel set in the world of New Tibet. Those of you who have read any of the short stories from 'Breaking the Ice' or 'Shadows in Snow,' are already familiar with New Tibet, but for those who aren't, the basic idea is that it's a cold, foreboding arctic planet inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, and while technically a science-fiction setting, the stories themselves are very contemporary and relevant to the world.

Put simply, 'Common and Precious' is a masterpiece. Stories only very rarely move me to tears, but by the time I was on the second-to-last page of this novel, I was already misty-eyed, and I needed to spend a good twenty minutes or so crying, afterwards (I won't say whether it was a happy cry or a sad cry, since I don't want to spoil the ending, of course).

To give a basic summary, 'Common and Precious' is the story of Melinda, a young tiger who is the daughter of a wealthy corporate magnate on New Tibet. Melinda lives in the lap of luxury, unaware of and unconcerned with the arduous lives of the common people on the planet, struggling against poverty and the cold--until she is kidnapped by a small band of individuals who seek to hold her ransom in order to extort funding for a poor, dilapidated hospital. The story chronicles a father's search for his abducted daughter, and Melinda's own attempts to achieve her own freedom from her captors--people far less fortunate than her, whom she has been raised to hold beneath contempt.

I used the world 'relevant' up above when talking about the setting of New Tibet, and I have no issue at all in saying that 'Common and Precious' fits this word. This is a story that works with themes of family, love, and the value of life itself. It's beautifully touching in a way that's never sappy, never overwrought, and that conveys a central message that I think everyone alive could really stand to stop and just spend five minutes thinking about. It's heartwarming and it's heartwrenching, and it's lovely and it's terrible, and it ranks up there with the greatest works of literature that I've ever read.

I've put some pretty high praise upon some pieces of furry fiction in the past, but I need to revise myself yet again in saying that that if I had to pick only one piece of furry fiction to hold onto for the rest of my life, 'Common and Precious' would be it. Anyone who would seek to say that a serious story can't be told with two-legged animal-people would, frankly, be wrong, and anyone seeking to dismiss the true, honest emotional impact of the book based on that would be doing it the greatest of disservices.

This is an extremely powerful piece of writing. I really don't think I can recommend it enough.
13 February, 2007

(5 out of 5 stars) by Matthew Pursley

Common and Precious is a wonderful novel set in New Tibet. While one can probably understand the novel without having read the previous two story collections set there, I suggest reading them anyway. Both are excellent reading experiences and while the vital details of the setting are briefly covered in the novel's introduction, reading the previous stories provides added depth and context to the events in C&P.

Some of the other reviews for Common and Precious go into wonderful detail on the merits of the tale, so I suggest you read those. In brief, this traditional "rich heiress comes of age" story is nevertheless an original and enjoyable read...and the expected development of said heiress is only the tip of the iceberg, as the longer format gives the author plenty of room to take the characters in unexpected directions as we get to know them. While there is plenty of action and intrigue in the tale, the plot is really driven by the characters themselves. Each of them has a distinct and vivid personality that makes it easy to be interested in what happens next and keeps one eager to see how the story unfolds...for in New Tibet one can never be sure of the resolution of the story until the last page is turned.

As an added note, Common and Precious is graced by evocative interior illustrations by Sara Palmer that are a treat unto themselves and vividly depict some of the more powerful moments of the story.
14 October, 2008

(5 out of 5 stars) by Shakal Draconis

In short short summary: If you've read and liked ANYTHING from New Tibet, you will LOVE this novel.

The book follows a multi-threaded story, containing all the bleakness, struggle, and hope within despair that make New Tibet both a heart warmer and a soul crusher. Along one thread is Melinda, away from her ivory tower of wealth and comfort, forced to deal with the harshness in the outside world, and the warmth with that heart of ice. Along the other... well, you'll have to see for yourself.

I'm not going to claim Common and Precious is the best book I've ever read, but it's among my top 5 list, and New Tibet is now second among my list of favorite literary worlds (Behind Kyell Gold's Argaea, displacing Tolkein's Middle Earth).

In all honesty, the lesson of Common and Precious, and the true impact of the ending, didn't hit me until I was at work (at a hospital, no less), something like 12-15 hours after I'd finished the book.

I nearly broke into tears as things took a very different vision.

I'd say more about this wonderful story... but honestly, it starts twisting VERY near the beginning of the book, and you'll best appreciate the ride if you're completely unprepared for them.

Get this book, I can't express how strong a read it is.
15 February, 2007

(5 out of 5 stars) by Thomas grindall

Iv just finished reading it this evaning and i have fallen in love with it and most proberly read it again before my trip is done. It has insperd me in main ways, and it has help me inprove my own writing skill, the charicters are engagin and well basicly you truly feel for them and there safty, wile i was reading i soon relised i was laugh, gasping and even cheering the charicters on as the stoire unfolded.

i have fallen in love with the world of new tibet, and hope there will be more to come.
and i hope that one day i will have the same skill and writing ablitty of Tim Susman.
Thank you Tim Susman for inspering me and writing a fantastic book.
P.S. sorry about my spelling

6 October, 2008
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