Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Wild Road

by Gabriel King

Summary from GoodReads

Once in every age, there comes a special cat. His mission is not to rule, but to guide the rulers to their destiny, to uphold the balance of the natural world, and to discover the leonine heart and spirit that is the legacy of all cats everywhere. Now, in the grand storytelling style of "Watership Down" and "Tailchaser's Song," comes an epic tale of adventure and danger, of heroism against insurmountable odds, and of love and comradeship among extraordinary animals who must brave The Wild Road.

Secure in a world of privilege and comfort, the kitten Tag is happy as a pampered house pet--until the dreams come. Dreams that pour into his safe, snug world from the wise old cat Majicou: hazy images of travel along the magical highways of the animals, of a mission, and of a terrible responsibility that will fall on young Tag. Armed with the cryptic message that he must bring the King and Queen of cats to Tintagel before the spring equinox, Tag ventures outside. 

But had ancient Majicou somehow misjudged? Tag barely knows his own backyard and is scarcely equipped for a quest out into the wide world! But ready or not, Tag is catapulted into the unknown to face danger and win allies in the wily urban fox Loves a Dustbin, and the far-seeing magpie One for Sorrow. Along the way, others will join their quest: Cy, the strange little tabby; Sealink, the globe-trotting cat with an eye for a handsome tom; and Mousebreath, wise in the ways of the world. Together, this band of frightened yet courageous animals will brave the wild road to seek the King and Queen. 

But finding the royal pair is only half the challenge, as an evil human known only as the Alchemist doggedly pursues the Queen for his own ghastly ends. For the Queen, a descendant of the legendary line of Golden Cats, holds the key to an ancient prophecy that foretells enormous power for those who control this rare and extraordinary breed. 

And if the Alchemist achieves his goal, the world can never be safe again.
A stunning literary achievement, "The Wild Road" is a sweeping feat of the imagination, an amazing mystical highway to an unseen place known only to cats and their chosen, trusted companions.

Thoughts on the Book

I’m dedicating this post to my cat, Cypher Isis (June 6, 2002 – May 20, 2015).  I got Cy when I was a sophomore in high school and she was the best, fluffiest, nicest, most beautiful cat you could ever meet.  She would have turned 13 in two weeks, but sadly didn’t have it in her to continue fighting against whatever was making her sick (the vet could not definitively diagnose her).

When I met Cy at 4 weeks old (I had to wait another couple weeks so she’d be weaned properly to bring her home) I named her after one of my favorite characters from this book – Cy, Cy for Cypher!  I was seriously debating between Cy and Sealink, since she was a dead-ringer for Sealink, especially as she got older - a sassy calico Maine Coon.  Sadly my parents vetoed Sealink and allowed for Cypher (we had many arguments over the spelling - I won).  Fortunately there was no argument over the middle name, one of my favorite characters from The Golden Cat, The Wild Road’s sequel.

My Review

This book is about a cat, Tag, who gets lured outside by a magpie and where he gets lost and needs to learn to survive on his own.  He eventually learns that he's part of something far bigger than just himself, and he's mentored by a mysterious cat, Majicou.  He picks up some odd friends along the way, a fox, a magpie, as well as lots of other fellow cats.  It's a coming of age story for Tag, he's forced to grow up quickly in order to fulfill his destiny, save the king and queen and therefore the world.

I love this book.  The characters are all fantastic, how could you not love the cats?  Tag, Sealink, Cy, Ragnar Gustaffson Coeur de Lion (or to his chagrin Rags for short), Pertelot Fitzwilliam, Mousebreath, Stilton, Majicou.  All were amazingly developed, and somehow remained extremely catlike.  Tag’s your typical cat, young, not too crazy, learning things as he went, Sealink was the more sedate older cat who loved good food and people, Cy your typical crazy cat off chasing shadows or, really, anything that catches her interest, Ragnar and Pertelot are your aloof show cats, and Mousebreath your typical mouser.  Even the non-cat characters were awesome, Loves a Dustbin just might be my favorite in the entire series, and One for Sorrow was pretty awesome too.  And the Alchemist, he was such an awesome villain.  When reading you really truly hate him, and the more you find out about him the more awful he is.

The fantasy elements in the book are also really cool, and could very well exist in our world – we’d never know!  The Wild Road itself is something that only animals can see; it’s something house cats stare at through the windows.  It’s the reason why dogs bark at nothing.  It’s why you see an animal running by out of the corner of your eye, but when you look nothing is there.

The story itself is wonderful and engrossing with all sorts of twists and turns and unexpected phenomena. 

I give this book an 11/10, it’s so fantastically, awesomely, wonderfully, magnificent.  It’s one of those stories that stays with you for a very, very long time.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves epic stories and/or cats.

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