Rating: 5 stars
Dogs and W. Bruce Cameron go together like peanut butter and jelly, and his latest book, “The Dog Master: A Novel of the First Dog” just proves that point. It’s different from his other (wonderful) novels, and it must have been a challenging book to write. The story has different storylines that alternate between several time periods — which is a bit confusing at first, but once the reader gets the pattern, it works.
The first part of the story begins in the present day with a professor teaching freshman college students about the Upper Paleolithic Period. He tells them about his theory that man at the time was probably just as violent and aggressive as we are today. He tells the students (and readers) about the struggle to survive. Then, in the middle of his lecture, his assistant comes in with the cryptic words, “They found her.”
“Her” is the first dog. Or more accurately, the first wolf who behaved like a dog — the first domesticated wolf. The story then goes back in time — a long way back. There, the storylines alternate between one called “Year One” and another called “Year Nineteen.” The reader is reading both about two different groups of people in the beginning (Year One) and also what is happening to one of them 19 years in the future. The times slowly grow closer, and in Book Two of the story, Year One becomes Year Seven, then later Year Eighteen.
This story is filled with all the emotions you might expect from a book about primitive man. The characters and the scenes are raw and emotion-filled. Cameron researched the time period, and while he admits he took some liberties, the way of life of primitive man (as he envisions it) is fascinating.
Most of all, the book is very touching. Cameron, just as he does in all his “dog” books, manages to touch upon that which draws us closer to our canine companions. He makes the domestication of the wolf make sense. His plot explains that the process did not just happen with one wolf who befriended a man. It’s a lovely story. Expect a few tears at the end — just like all his books.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Forge Books, for review purposes.