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The Dog Master: A Novel of the First Dog    by W. Bruce Cameron order for
Dog Master
by W. Bruce Cameron
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

How did the bond between canine and human develop? In The Dog Master, W. Bruce Cameron paints an intriguing picture of just what might have happened to build a partnership between man and wolf in the days when early humans and Neanderthals roamed the earth together. He gives us an engrossing tale filled with tribal politics and warring human groups, all struggling for survival against wild animals and the elements.

The story is bookmarked by brief modern day accounts of Professor James K. Morby, whose theory of a 'domesticated wolf' is about to be validated. In between readers head back to Paleolithic times to follow two human tribes and various wolf packs. These plot threads also move back and forth in time, which I found a bit confusing. But essentially, a man exiled from his tribe comes upon a mother-wolf almost killed by a lion. He feels a kinship with her and her surviving female cub becomes his close companion.

The nomadic Wolfen emulate the behavior - and hunting success - of wolves, whom they revere and feed when they can. But our hero is not of that tribe. He is born to the Kindred, whose leaders are a (female) Council Mother (who guides the women in decision making about matter such as marriages and tribal movement) and the (male) Hunt Master who leads the men hunting for game. Our hero's mother, Calli, is an intelligent young woman of the Kindred, expected to become Council Mother, though the autocratic Albi will do anything to retain that position.

When Calli's second son is born with a deformed leg, Albi (his grandmother) calls him cursed and does her best to have him killed. She names him Mal. Calli does her best to protect Mal, but Albi eventually has her way, though Calli succeeds in turning it from death to exile. But can Mal possibly survive a harsh winter on his own?

It's an engrossing story, filled with action, romance, and the developing bond - and growing partnership in the hunt - between man and wolf, man and dog. Could it have happened this way? Read the novel and see what you think.

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