You really can find anything on the Internet, and in the case of Toril Orlesky’s webcomic Hotblood!, that’s a pretty cool phenomenon. After all, where else are you going to the tale of a centaur trying his luck in the American West and his attraction to his caddish, amoral employer?
Hotblood! is set in a world where centaurs coexist with humans, living side-by-side and fighting the same wars — including the American Civil War. James Rook is a centaur from Georgia and fought for the Confederacy. Now that the war is over, he’s looking to start a new life in Wyoming, where he’s been sent to work as secretary for Asa Langley, a mining entrepreneur.
The 19th century of Hotblood! has the same prejudices as our own 19th century, with a few extra ones thrown in. Langley greets Rook with anti-centaur slurs and doesn’t even consider the accommodations he’ll need to make for his four-legged employee. And he’s not exactly a winning fellow otherwise, far more interested in money than in human life. That’s particularly dangerous given that he has already let his pride get in the way of his profit. Still, Rook finds himself drawn to his employer, and even agrees to Langley’s latest ill-advised scheme. If it goes wrong, things could be very bad for both men.
In the midst of this adventure romance, it’s Rook who is the most compelling aspect of Hotblood! He’s both our point-of-view character and a mystery, with a Union brand on his hide and a past he won’t talk about. And he’s a centaur with prejudices of his own, making it all the more intriguing that he falls for someone like Asa Langley.