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The Gaslight Dogs

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The Gaslight Dogs

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Author: Karin Lowachee
Publisher: Orbit, 2010

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Alternate History (Fantasy)
Historical Fantasy
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At the edge of the known world, an ancient nomadic tribe faces a new enemy-an Empire fueled by technology and war. A young spiritwalker of the Aniw and a captain in the Ciracusan army find themselves unexpectedly thrown together. The Aniw girl, taken prisoner from her people, must teach the reluctant soldier a forbidden talent - one that may turn the tide of the war and will surely forever brand him an outcast.From the rippling curtains of light in an Arctic sky, to the gaslit cobbled streets of the city, war is coming to the frozen north. Two people have a choice that will decide the fates of nations - and may cast them into a darkness that threatens to bring destruction to both their peoples.



From the black ship spilled all manner of tall Kabliw — men from the South land, men from a world past the barrier of stunted trees that Sjennonirk's people called the Hackles of the Dog. That stick barrier was a warning laid by the spiritual ancestors of the ankago: no Aniw should venture farther than their tundra plain and frozen seas. Instead the People stayed to the ends of the rivers that flowed below the beginning of the sticks.

But the Hackles of the Dog couldn't stop the Kabliw of the South from sailing to North shores. These Kabliw, these people of the boats, went where they would and did as they pleased. Through late winter ice and the onset of spring their dark ship forged a passage, some great black whale to blot out the blue and white of her home. Sjennonirk, an ankago of her people, named after her grandfather, stood on the small rocky hill overlooking the inlet where the Kabliw ship had anchored and watched these tall men unload their long wooden crates upon the Land. They'd rowed ashore with their load in smaller boats that still sat twice the size of her people's kayaks. One of the men, bundled in black and brown wolf pelt, pried open the lid of the nearest crate to reveal the steel contents glittering within. She knew them to be guns. Father Bari from the South, a priest of his Seven Deities, had told her grandfather long ago about Southern hunters and their guns. Now, it seemed, he had brought them to the Aniw. She recognized Bari's thin silhouette in his heavy gray robes, standing just to one side of the rougher-shaped men and their determined task.

Sjennonirk turned and fled down the opposite side of the hill, sealskin boots scratching over the crust of hard snow. She did not stop until she reached her family's camp.

In her mother's snowhouse they gathered, a small tribe of nomad Aniw that traveled together to hunt and fish. Sjennonirk sat upon the wide sleeping platform made of packed snow, the stone lamp by her side burning seal oil into the close quarters, creating a warmth she did not feel inside. All around her the white walls of their winter home glistened, narrow light glowing from the lamp. She saw many shadows.

"What has your little spirit seen?" her mother asked, kneeling on a bed of tan caribou skins and white bear fur. All of her family and the other Aniw they traveled with, her small tribe here at the comer of their Land, gazed up at her for answers and direction. Her father Aleqa, before he'd been killed by the great white bear, had been her tribe's ankago, and his father before him. They traced her ancestry of the little spirit straight back to the First Female, the great Dog that now resided in her and paced in the pit of her chest She felt the paw steps behind her ribs, beating softly like a drum, like a heart. She was the ankaga, and she had no answers. In the middle light, where her little spirit roamed, she had seen nothing but the smoky depths of the Kabliw world. They moved against the wind lines of the winter tundra, and the direction they pointed was nowhere she wanted to go.

"I will speak to the priest," she said to broad hopeful faces and dark fearful eyes. Though they'd traded with the Kabliw since the spring season of her birth, some Southern deeds weren't wanted on the Land.

When she was a child, Father Bari had talked of war.

Copyright © 2010 by Karin Lowachee


The Gaslight Dogs

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The Gaslight Dogs

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