March 14th, 2013

Book with cat 3

Book #9: Kazan the Wolf Dog

Book #9 of this year was an odd one in an unusual way.

Kazan the Wolf Dog by James Oliver Curwood. (Read it free at that link!)

As I've posted about a couple times already, this book has some massive issues with facts about animals and nature in general. What I hadn't written about was how anthropomorphized the animal characters were. While it was supposed to be a book about true wild animals, they had way too many human thoughts and feelings. Add on top of that a really odd spirituality that came into play in the final chapters of the book (gods of the woods and spirits of the north taking an active hand to control things).

The main character's mate, a character around for most of the book, was a blind female wolf. The wolf had her eyes ripped out by a lynx; it was described as so bad that eventually the fur just grew over her eye holes (buh?), but this wolf lived for many years. At one point Kazan got caught by people and she survived on her own.

So many issues with the book, yet I enjoyed it a lot. Not only did I enjoy it, I think somehow the issues made it better. I enjoyed wondering how in the world Curwood came to such inaccurate conclusions. (How does one picture a beaver able to move 10 pounds of stuff with a scoop on its chin? Did he see a beaver once and think its tail end was its front end?) I think the extra anthropomorphizing made it more accessible, too.

At first I had thought this book was a knock-off of the White Fang/Call of the Wild books. With this type of thing in the first paragraph, how could I not?

Yet every drop of the wild blood in his splendid body was racing in a ferment of excitement that Kazan had never before experienced. Every nerve and fiber of his wonderful muscles was tense as steel wire.

(Recall that White Fang/Call went on for many pages of that stuff, how perfect his eyes were, how perfect each individual strand of fur was, etc.) Luckily, after the first couple paragraphs, there was very little of that.

It feel wrong to say this, but I enjoyed this book a lot more than Call and White Fang put together. I might just read the next book (this was a prequel to a book about Kazan's son, though I hadn't realized that until I had started reading it).

All in all, I recommend this book. Especially since you can read it for free at the above link! (It was published so long ago that it's no longer under copyright.)