cover image The Dog Master

The Dog Master

W. Bruce Cameron. Forge, $25.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7463-9

Bestseller Cameron’s (A Dog’s Purpose) latest imagines a pivotal moment in the history of human-animal relations. It’s 30,000 years ago, and we meet two tribes of primitive human beings: the Wolfen, as represented by Silex the hunter, and the Kindred, as represented by Calli, who is in love with one man but is forced by custom to wed another. She gives birth to Mal, who is born with a deformed leg, a death sentence because the tribe members think he is cursed. Calli performs some political maneuvering in order to have her son’s life spared. Mal grows up and falls in love with Lyra, who paints primitive figures on cave walls. A jealous suitor, Grat, forces Mal into exile so he can have Lyra all to himself. Living on his own, Mal comes across a wolf cub. He domesticates the creature and even puts a leash on her so they can hunt together. But he finds his life in jeopardy after he encounters Silex’s tribe, whose members worship and emulate wolves, and find the leash anathema. Cameron tells his story in a needlessly complicated manner, mixing Upper Paleolithic past with the present. The use of weddings, engagements, and tribal councils to dramatize Calli and Silex’s existence seems too anachronistic. And except for the depiction of the first dog (a domesticated wolf), there’s little in this post-Neanderthal bildungsroman we haven’t seen before in The Clan of the Cave Bear and its sequels. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)