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Hundred Red Scales (2020)

Hundred Red Scales (2020) feels different in some way from the previous volumes of A Thousand Thousand Islands. It concerns a region inhabited by monitor lizard people (and shared with humans) who have a culture and spirituality that centers on textiles, weaving and dyes. The weaving school is a temple, its great enemy, defined only obliquely, is the cult of the indigo god. There are webs of intrigue laid out here, but I am not quite sure what to do with it all. There seems to be much more detail than usual, and I get a little lost in it. There are many interesting ideas, though. For instance, the monitor-folk are dismissive of human weaving efforts, so one human traded with a witch for a spell that makes him look like a monitor (unless, brilliantly, the person looking at him is also in disguise, then they see the man). There is a giant serpent witch that I really like, too.

Also interesting is that the monitor-folk don’t talk — they have a language of gesture and pantomime that often leans on pictorial depictions weaved into their clothes. A lot of this actually comes through in Munkao’s illustrations, somewhat shockingly, and several pages give guidance on how to incorporate this signing into play. That’s pretty cool.

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