Friday, January 13, 2017

The Wizard's Dog by Eric Kahn Gale, 2017

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Meet Nosewise. He’s spunky. He’s curious. And he’s a dog who can’t understand why his pack mates Merlin and Morgana spend all day practicing magic tricks. If it’s a trick they want, he’s the dog to ask! He can already Sit!, Stay!, and Roll Over!

But there’s no way Nosewise is Stay!ing when his master and best friend, Merlin, is kidnapped. There’s nothing Nosewise won’t do to get Merlin back, even if it means facing the strange Fae people and their magic-eating worms, or tangling with the mysterious Sword in the Stone. But it may take more than sniffing out a spell to do it!

Nosewise’s hilarious escapades and steadfast loyalty get him and his companions through King Arthur’s Dark Ages.

(288 pages)

What a breath of fresh air! This is such a fun new take on the Arthurian legends–from the point of view of his dog, if you can believe it.

I wasn't sure at first how this would be, whether it would be super fluffy and ridiculous or whether it would carry its own weight as a believable fractured fairytale. The idea of a dog (with a name like Nosewise, no less!) narrating a book seemed really goofy, but it worked out wonderfully in practice. Nosewise, by the way, is very sweet, and for the most part he actually comes across like a realistic dog. A dog way more intelligent than any pooch I've ever met, but then I suppose you couldn't really have an intelligible or interesting story told by someone with the attention span of my seven-year-old Boxer.

Setting aside Nosewise, I loved the other characters who filled the book as well. They're all riffs on the class Arthurian legends, with names that are very familiar and backstories that are at least vaguely similar. There are even some medievel fairytale characters thrown into the mix, which I thought was awesome. My favorite non-canine character was probably Arthur, just because he seemed so nice. I hope there's a sequel coming out sometime in the near future, and I hope Arthur plays a large role in it! I also loved Merlin, who seemed like a nice old man. He was probably the most generically similar to the way his character is in the original Arthurian legends, but I think that helps the book by giving it a stronger connection to its base material. The main villain was also really cool to read, as were some other characters who pop up late in the story.

Besides the characters, I also loved the plot developments–but I can't discuss those, of course, so instead let's talk about the magic! We don't get a huge amount of explanation about how magic works in this world, but the glimpses we do get are pretty cool. People do magic by connecting to special stones (called "Asterias") and focusing their "Inner Eye" on what they want to happen. It's a neat concept, kind of similar to other magic systems I've read about in fantasy novels, and seeing how it allowed an animal like Nosewise perform magic was pretty awesome.

Basically, if you're looking for a fun fantasy adventure full of nods to Arthurian literature, then this is definitely the book for you. Give it a try, and you might just be suprised by how much you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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