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‘Beyond the Gates of Pain’
Andy Edwards King of Dogs: Part 2
Please enjoy one free audio review copy of King of Dogs: Life is the training ground for death, now available on Audible. Redeem the one-time use code below at
Andy was nice enough to send the above, which I have tried to access. I cannot figure out how to listen on this platform. But the pressure is building behind both my eyes so I will read at least the rest of the scene that convinced me to read the entire book. Hopefully, if health returns I will finally finish reading King of Dogs.
In any event, Grayson is in a vehicle, his driver and connect to the insurgent Navahos is being waylaid by their hosts and explosives providers, and he is wondering if his ambition to fight evil ends here, in some place where he fails to belong…
A fever is descending on me as I read but the pace of King of Dogs is steady enough to keep me following Grayson and his cohorts ever deeper into their life of cultural resistance. The tone of the story is stoked in realism, with young men unable to be blithely cavalier when their wives are recuperating from childbirth and their children are helpless.
This reader’s suspicion that U.S. terrorism and sub-conquest forever war in Iraq and Afghanistan are actual planned or serendipitous preparation for putting down domestic resistance in the U.S. West, is fleshed out in action and banter between the protagonist and his brothers in a struggle of a scale that the combatants do not realistically have a full grasp of, yet act none-the-less. The heroic as an expression of a will that is not fully informed is an aspect of King of Dogs which easily surpasses the pro-government adventure heroes of recent print and video fiction, in which the action hero knows more than the reader and his risks are reduced to calculation acts.
Neither is God absent or merely notional in the mind of the harried protagonist, Grayson, harried as much by his need to act against evil as any lesser consideration of temporal loyalty normally put forth as justification for struggle. The narrative voice draws few breaths putting forth excuses for action, setting aside the modern ideal that violent action is inherently evil and must be excused.
Where super soldier adventure, so popular since 2001, focuses on almost superhuman combat ability on the part of the killer in service to the State, Grayson and his cohorts are distinguished from their largely invisible yet ever-present enemy by an ability to improvise mechanical solutions to logistical and combat dilemmas.
My favorite passage from the early going of the tale sketches the hero deftly and without recourse to the superficial:
“And then he thought of his son and in the ache decided, as he had decided a million times before, that despite the gap he would go on no matter what. The act of going-on, of surviving, was his religion put over and against whatever else seemed true. The trick to survival was in realizing how utterly unnatural it was to give in, to cower or crumble. To complain and not act. A thousand generations of men, fathers and their sons, had faced austerity absolute in cataclysms, plague, extinctions, and exile. Murder and pain were implicit in the unity of things and while the saints had sufficiently, to his lights, reasoned out why it is so, Grayson reasoned that pain did not tell the truth but only pointed the way. The truth lies beyond the gates of pain.”
Grayson is a quiet crusader battling the din of doubt that is the world his enemy he was born into.
As a true insurgent Grayson fights his battle in the shadows, among looting homeless as military gun trucks hunt him and his and his Jealous God looks down balefully with expectation of action.
By page 70 we are treated to Grayson’s absolute morality, his line in the sand of despair, as he discusses tactical options with Munson, a night fighter with “alabaster skin” who makes a nice ethical foil for the hero as well as an ally in the nightfall of their world.
Grayson drifts into the reader as his perception of the world and his actions within it put him into context:
“Yet he was aware again of his solitary status upon the unfolding stage of the world.”
As the terror visited on nation after desert nation, by the U.S. is turned on Grayson and his survivalist cohorts and gunships and gun wagons hunt them from sky and road, one gets the impression that the author spent some time in Middle East war zones. If the author did not serve the beast he describes, than he convinced this reader acutely of his familiarity with the mind of the hunted resistance fighter under the thunder of that which jealously owns us on this earth.
I am too sick to read any more today and must lie down and hope to beat this fever and finish one of four novels of my own, long since in progress. I wish Andy the best of luck with his writing and stop here, halfway through page 80, hopeful to return to his story King of Dogs, and write a third review.
Edited in 9/10/20
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