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‘Cans and Spent Shells’
King of Dogs by Andrew Edwards: 1/5/22
I do not know much of anything about Andrew Edwards, other than that he has read The Violence Project, that he has a kind relaxed voice in our brief phone conversation, and that when I was unable to complete reading his novel, King of Dogs, due to eye problems, he sent me a 32-Gig thumb drive with his own audio recording on it. He has expressed a desire to meet and speak of edged weapon use. Additionally, I have listened to five of his Warhorse podcasts which he sent me, and will listen to the rest most likely this week.
Despite our difference in age, Boomer and Gen-X, we seem to be largely on the same survivalism page, something I call fractional autonomy, saving a piece of yourself from The Beast. I think King of Dogs is a first novel and recall my first novel, Big Water Bloodsong as being most similar to King of Dogs, in tonal philosophy, if unrelated in genre and scope.
As Norman Mailer pointed out, engaging in autobiography is dangerous for the novelist, in that he risks grinding the seed corn of his imagination. An aspect of this use of life experience and worldview as a tool of exploration and exposition for the novelist, is our tendency to apply more of our worldview in earlier works. As such, Andrew’s Warhorse podcast, largely dedicated to internal self-improvement, is highly congruent with his novel, a predictive, realistic, near-future adventure that offers logical and emotional modeling for the real American Crisis we have been plunged into almost immediately after Andy wrote his book in 2019.
King of Dogs is a small-scope big-truth narrative which could be easily spoiled in a review, as well as easily enjoyed in re-read, as it is highly experiental. I have previously recorded an impression of the first 40 pages and very much enjoyed the Yogic-Aryan hero Greyson as a believably convicted and flawed protagonist, one of those odd ritualistic ethical actionists who are easily painted as cartoons in lesser hands, but who in Edward’s hands shows through as easily betrayed and duped by the denizens of the evil world in which his strict code makes him both remarkable and disposable.
I have known men like Greyson and have served as their advisor in interpreting the vast depths of gray that is the field of our imploded dreams and exploded codes—a realm of twisted means, ‘The World of Man,’ as sketched in King of Dogs. It has always pained me that the best men I know, are so easily betrayed. Interestingly, there is one scene in which the hero is drugged by a friend, that was similar to something that happened to me when I was 19 and which hardened me against experimental drug use. This event made me fiercely defensive of my brain, to the point of refusing for most of my life to rent my mind to employer’s for business use, insisting on remaining a manual laborer at the lowest level for 34 of 38 years.
I found reading a hero of a type that is my bear opposite in personality was refreshing. It is good, I think, for us to read adventure from the vantage of alternative personality types. My appeal in reading Conan stories is to read as an Omega Barbarian, the world as engaged in by an Alpha Barbarian. To read Robert E. Howard’s other towering hero, Solomon Kane, as an Omega Christian gives this Omega Barbarian another nuance of narrative gravity in examining the world of ideals imbedded in actionism.
King of Dogs offers a hero along the lines of Solomon Kane, the Puritan Avenger. The scenario involves one Utah town, is realistically developed and is exposed through the mypoic lens of a light infantry operator and explores the possibilities of one man resistance to corporate shadow government take over, as well as the futility of organized resistance, as corporate shadow government has long ago perfected the colonization of a previous age’s apex power structure: The State. Against the entities that have soft couped and extinguished nations and empires alike, a local militia is not a foe, but a tool. I don’t know how the author knows this, but he does in varied and deep shades and exposes these looming realities through the vantage of the tunnel vision of unshaken loyalty and un-compromised honor.
I will express impressions of King of Dogs by comparison with works of fiction that the reader might be familiar with:
Greyson is a character in the mold of Louis L’Amour’s many heroes, most specifically the Key Lock Man loner and Hondo the half-breed, whose code of honor extends into the canine realm. L’Amour’s exposition of the natural world in Down the Long Hills and Last of the Breed, the importance of a warrior’s relationship with his tools such as in The Furgesson Rifle, and the use of brief philosophic pause rather than rambling digression, is similar to Edwards.’
The plot, evokes a combination of the following classic movies: The Hunted, Lonely Are the Brave [the most], The Naked Prey, and is a much more mature kin tale to Rambo: First Blood.
In literary empathy Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang, along with Howard’s Beyond the Black River and Burroughs’ Beasts of Tarzan are all suggestive of similar heroic values.
The political realism of King of Dogs echoes London’s Iron Heel and Howard’s Black Canaan. The roiling sense of mysanthropy that inhabits the soul of the betrayed and cornered man of honor found in Howard’s Almuric, Black Vulmea’s Vengance, Worms of the Earth, the Black Stranger and Man Eaters of Zamboula has a more sedate but no less central home in King of Dogs.
In terms of real events, the story of Claude Dallas as related by Jeff Long, comes to mind. Indeed, an FBI agent tracking Dallas blamed L’Amour as a psychotic influence on Dallas, who killed two BLM agents and evaded a massive manhunt circa 1980. A similar hard code of honor is upheld in King of Dogs as core to heroic actionism. For anyone really fascinated with man tracking, King of Dogs has much to offer.
If one is normally a movie watcher rather than reader of more recent stripe, then we have a story with elements of Hell or High Water, Lone Survivor and Tears of the Sun used in a more realistic manner. Although Lone Survivor was based on real events in Afghanistan, it ended with an orgy of transhumanism supra-state military godhead graphics, the last half-hour being a total departure from the book written by the lone SEAL survivor of the actual event. Edwards’ book seems to be based on the Afghan experience in part and intuits that the American media-borne worship of air-power and chain-gun extermination of local working class resistance in foreign rural lands will serve to condition urban and suburban Americans to cheer on the slaughter of their out-of-state rural fellows by the same means, once the target of supra-state terrorism has been effectively tabooed as a bad actor.
If the reader has enjoyed the above mentioned movies or books than it is probable that King of Dogs, written as an intense and brief series of traumatic events likely to occur in near future North America, will find a home in the reader’s heart.
Thank you, Andrew.
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