A Kingdom Novel
By Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent
Published by Abaddon Books
Dan Abnett is a very prolific writer of comics as well as a number of novels. He is co-creator of Kingdom for 2000AD with artist Richard Elson. You can read an earlier article I wrote reviewing the graphic novel Kingdom: Promised Land elsewhere on this blog.
Nik Vincent is Dan’s writing partner in some of his Warhammer novels. She has also written a number of novels under her married name, Nicola Abnett.
Kingdom is a story about Gene the Hackman and his journey through the world. He is guided by the Masters Voice and his Urgings.
Fiefdom is set 100 years after Kingdom. It gives us a new hero in a world where Gene the Hackman has become legend. The characters are not Human they are Aux, genetically modified bipedal dogs.
“Gene the Hackman, top dog, him done the great Walk Around. Not for him the darkness, not for him the cold, not for him the Time of Ice that we know today.”
That is how the legends always start when the Tale Teller is recounting them to the pack.
It is 100 years after the days of Gene the Hackman in Kingdom. The action in this book takes place in Berlin. The city is covered in ice, not so much an ice age, or at least not with metres of ice crushing down. Certainly it isn’t just a cold snap though. The city has been covered in ice longer than living memory.
Evelyn War, Omega Dam in Zoo Pack, speaks out about change that is coming. Her father, Oberon War, had been the last of the Hearers in Zoo Pack. Those that like Gene the Hackman had heard the Masters Voice and felt the Urgings. Oberon War is dead but Evelyn continues the warnings her father had given.
It is a rich cast of genetically modified dogs. Ezra Pound, the Alpha Dog, leader of Zoo Pack is a tough leader with no time for dreamers like Evelyn War. Ben Gun, a Pup, is full of keen intelligence and quick on his feet. Not a single Human in the tale but the variety in characters is undamaged.
There is no need to be well versed in the comic series Kingdom. Indeed this novel can be used as introduction to the source just as much as the other way round. While those such as myself that have read the full comic series are treated to recollections of that story everything a reader needs to know is presented in the novel. The revealing of who Gene was and what he did is a tool that assists in the unveiling of the story itself. So old readers and new have something to gain.
The narrative style is a ‘naive narrator’. We the reader are presented with knowledge at the level of the Aux. So while we recognise objects and occurrences for what they are we are not told directly about everything. Knowledge is slowly eked out, as the Aux learn we learn. This is the same narrative voice used in the comics
The Aux have a distinctive way of talking, again similar to the comic. It is easy to learn and soon will feel familiar to new readers. Below is a little more detail in the style of the Aux. Slightly more spoilers below, perhaps less so if you haven’t read the comics.
“Evelyn War, she is truer and true. Evelyn War, she tells Pack they should make an alliance. Evelyn War, she tell Pack there is strength in numbers.
Ben Gun, him have muscle in his head. Ben Gun, him loyal truer than true. Ben Gun, him skittle-skuttle fast.
Ezra Pound, him Alpha Dog, tougher and tough, Ezra Pound, him pack sire of Zoo Pack. Ezra Pound, him brave.
Zoo Pack, them take a long Walk Around. Zoo Pack, them know there is strength in numbers.
Other Aux, them deader and dead. Two-Feet-Walk-on-the-Ground, him made Gene the Hackman to keep Them off his lawn. Aux, them keep Them of the lawn”