::Acquired Taste

The Website of Tim Stretton


::Dog of the North Facts

Although my third novel, The Dog of the North is the first to attract the attention of a commercial publisher..

It is set on the continent of Mondia, the same location as Dragonchaser.



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::The Dog of the North (2008)

The Dog of the North will be published by Macmillan New Writing in July 2008. As the publication process unfolds I will be sharing my thoughts on the Macmillan New Writers blog.

To read excerpts from the novel, follow this link.


The Dog of the North follows the linked stories of two very different characters: Beauceron is 'the Dog of the North', a mercenary captain who commands a fearsome reputation, and Arren, a young man of talent but few prospects.

Beauceron has sworn allegiance to the Winter King of the northern realm of Mettingloom, which he uses as the base for his raids.  At the start of the novel, he is attempting to raise an army to besiege the city of Croad, in the kingdom of Emmen—Arren's home city.  What are Beauceron's motives?  To the folk of Mettingloom—and the reader—they are mysterious. Beauceron's situation in Mettingloom is not straightforward: various factions within the court attempt to use him to further their own purposes, and Beauceron himself begins to feel the stirrings of conscience over the fate of two noble ladies he has kidnapped.

Arren is taken into the household of Croad's ruler, Lord Thaume, as a companion for Thaume's son, Oricien.  Arren receives the education of a soldier and a gentleman, and distinguishes himself on the battlefield.  He seems set for a glorious career, but already events are conspiring against him.

 

The Dog of the North has certain similarities with both The Zael Inheritance, and more particularly, Dragonchaser (to which it is to a certain extent a companion piece).  In all three books, a mixture of the comic and serious pertains, sometimes in the same scene, and the heroes are uniformly at the mercy of beautiful but manipulative women.  Does this tell the reader something of the author's psyche?  I think not, other than to suggest he finds such dynamics fruitful in creating satisfying and amusing fictions.  In The Dog of the North, the main female characters tend to be more intelligent or wiser—usually both—than the men.  This may be the normal order of events: readers will necessarily have recourse to their own experience in assessing the author's veracity.

Perhaps more pertinently, all three novels are to some degree concerned with the nature of power.  In The Dog of the North, kings, queens, princes, dukes and lords abound, as do 'viators', the clerics who exercise considerable behind the scenes influence.  Other characters in the story have power which obtains from their personality rather than their position.  If those who occupy the offices of state tend not to be worthy of their positions, well, stories about enlightened rulers reigning with calm good sense tend not to make interesting reading.


                        The Dog of the North and Dragonchaser

 

In Dragonchaser, magic is weak; outlawed, and practised only in secret.  The Dog of the North takes place several hundred years earlier, and magic—"thaumaturgy"—has an honoured if modest place in society.  Master Pinch, the one thaumaturge presented in the book, has severely limited powers: the one piece of sorcery we see him undertake is minor in nature and only partly successful, and he prefers to fall back on charlatanry where he can.  Those who truly understand magic have better things to do than involve themselves in temporal matters.  Events which take place after the book's close (the "Cataclysm of the East") will lead to the proscription of magic, and may form the basis of a future work.  Watch this space...

 


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