Monday, 26 December 2016

Q is for Quest - The Adventures of Llewelyn and Gelert series, by David Bell

Nothing beats a quest book, whether it's contemporary adventure, futuristic science fiction or, as in the instant book, historical fantasy. There is something so deeply satisfying about a quest story; it is one of the archetypical human experiences, one supposes.

In The Dog Hunters, and its sequel, The Dog Assassins, by David Bell, we have not only the fun of a quest, but we also have one of the most realistic, lovable hounds I have ever encountered in fiction. I say 'one of', because I like the hounds in my own work too. Gelert eats filth, rolls in filth, pisses, farts and generally expresses his joyously canine nature, and it is this earthiness that makes him special; yes, all dogs are earthy creatures, but this all too seldom really comes through in fiction. Bell has done a superlative job with this character.

I read the Kindle editions, but these are not what I recommend my readers to buy. The illustrated paperbacks are what you want, really. They're not just any old illustrations; they are beautiful, beautiful pen-and-ink drawings, lovingly created by the author, who is as talented an artist as he is a writer. You can get some idea of the wonder of these pictures by the two covers.

It's not often that I bang on about Christmas, and it's obviously too late for this year, but these books are just perfect for gifts, whether it's Christmas, Eid, a birthday, Chanukkah or whatever.


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