Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Vertigo

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“My name is Rex. I am a Good Dog”

Rex is an augmented bioform based, mainly, on dog genes with a lot of cyborg thrown in. He is the leader of a Multiform Assault Pack along with a bear bioform, a chameleon one and a bee swarm one(s). He is programmed to unquestionably love and obey ‘Master.’ But what, if anything, can he do when ‘Master’ makes him perform atrocities especially if he doesn’t really realise that is what he is doing?

This is a brilliant book; Tchaikovsky is rapidly moving up to the ranks of my favourite authors, it’s just a shame he has written far more fantasy than science fiction. His writing is superb and the first chapter of this book, written from Rex’s perspective, had me riveted from the word go and if it hadn’t been seriously necessary to get some sleep I would have devoured all two hundred and fifty pages in one sitting. Tchaikovsky demonstrates an awesome ability to get inside the heads of animals that have been elevated to higher intelligence, colouring their thinking with the nature of the original animal. Whether that is the spiders of Children of Time, the octopuses and bizarre alien of Children of Ruin, or the various creatures in Dogs of War, they are totally believable and convincing; each with their own set of motivations and characteristics.

In some ways this is not an easy read; it is a very dark book that does not shy away from some of the truly horrifying sides of human nature and our need to find scapegoats for that horror. Especially if those scapegoats can’t really do anything to defend themselves. Against that background Tchaikovsky sensitively develops Rex’s character as he struggles to a better understanding of what he is and, more importantly, what his place in human society is or, at least, could be.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It is without doubt another of my top reads of 2019. And, for those arachnophobic science fiction readers put off by the spiders in the Children of Time books, there are no spiders here just chimera designed to fight violently, ruthlessly and efficiently and yet still, away from battle, be believably vulnerable. I loved the Children of Time series but they didn’t make me stop and think in the way this book has and still does.

5/5 stars
 

The Judge

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I read this back in May and agree wholeheartedly with everything you've said and the 5 stars you've given it.

In case anyone needs further confirmation, here are some thoughts I scribbled at the time -- SPOILER ALERT!:

Rex is a bioform, a cross between a man and a dog with technology implants allowing him to operate weaponry by mind-power and “talk” to the rest of his group, a dragon, bear and Bees. He want to be a Good Dog, so obeys his master in killing enemies; but his master is a Kurtz figure in the messy world of South American private armies, and he uses the group to kill all and any witnesses to his war crimes. When Rex is removed from the hierarchy, he’s forced to make decisions for himself and begins to understand that Good and Bad aren’t reliant on obeying Master.
“Kurtz” is tried at the ICC, but acquitted for lack of evidence when Rex is too distressed to testify against him, but when he tries to take Rex back, and orders him to kill Honey the bear, Rex is able to rebel, and then builds a life for himself and other bioforms.
Clever writing, that creates sympathy for Rex even as he’s killing women and children, and shows his gradual ascent in vocabulary and sentence structure from a Dog-Man, through to a man with doglike qualities, to a hero
who sacrifices himself to destroy Kurtz’s lab.
Allusions to The Island of Dr Moreau, The Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now. Discussions of law and ethics, public policy. Very good.

I wasn't so taken with the interjecting chapters, which for me took away some of the power of Rex's story (I hate that kind of puppet-master thing in any event) but the power of the courtroom episode stays with me, and Rex's final chapter had me in tears.
 

Vertigo

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and Rex's final chapter had me in tears.
Me too! :cry:

Agree with you though I quite enjoyed the alternating chapters. At least it was nearly always clear whose head you were in.

Oh, and I wondered about making mention of the Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness references but decided against it. I like that he actually mentioned them in the book especially having the more thoughtful lawyer refer to the book and the more... superficial one refer to the film! :D
 

The Big Peat

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You both make it sound excellent; its somewhere on my kindle, along with a number of other Tchaikovsky stories. In fact, he has the dubious distinction of having authored the most books that I own without having read (and he does that by far). I'll have to start making good on that after the current wave of reads is done.

Would this be a good introduction to him, or should I go for Children of Time?
 

Vertigo

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You both make it sound excellent; its somewhere on my kindle, along with a number of other Tchaikovsky stories. In fact, he has the dubious distinction of having authored the most books that I own without having read (and he does that by far). I'll have to start making good on that after the current wave of reads is done.

Would this be a good introduction to him, or should I go for Children of Time?
I have only read three of his and all of those are his science fiction books. Of those I think this is better than Children of Time and Children of Ruin. Interestingly this one was written, or at least published, between those two. As to which to read first I'm really not too sure. I would hate you to read this and then be disappointed by the others. Also, I know you enjoy fantasy and I can make no comment on his fantasy work. Though I believe the Show of the Apt books have received considerable critical acclaim.
 

The Big Peat

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I have only read three of his and all of those are his science fiction books. Of those I think this is better than Children of Time and Children of Ruin. Interestingly this one was written, or at least published, between those two. As to which to read first I'm really not too sure. I would hate you to read this and then be disappointed by the others. Also, I know you enjoy fantasy and I can make no comment on his fantasy work. Though I believe the Show of the Apt books have received considerable critical acclaim.
If I read one of his Sci-Fi books first and like the style but bounce off the Sci-Fi themes, I'll be heading to his fantasy books (of which I've got four just hanging around). Just curious as to whether this or Children of Time seems more accessible.

Incidentally, I think Cage of Souls, one of his Sci-Fis, might be cheap on kindle at the moment.
 

Vertigo

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If I read one of his Sci-Fi books first and like the style but bounce off the Sci-Fi themes, I'll be heading to his fantasy books (of which I've got four just hanging around). Just curious as to whether this or Children of Time seems more accessible.

Incidentally, I think Cage of Souls, one of his Sci-Fis, might be cheap on kindle at the moment.
I think this one might be a little more accessible and having no space opera component I would say the science fiction aspects are a little less pronounced. It's far more about the psychology and morals than about the science. Though that's obviously there, it's more of a vehicle than the whole picture.

Oh and thanks for the tip on Cage of Souls as I was planning to buy it.
 

The Judge

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For me, it's definitely this rather than Children of Time, but I'm an arachnophobe so the whole premise of the latter put horrors in me and I only got a chapter or two in before I couldn't take any more!

If you're OK with spiders, I'd still go for this since it's a lot shorter and quickly read, and although it's not "soft" SF, to my mind it's more accessible than the beginning of CoT -- it's set in the near future and everything's pretty recogniseable. It also has more heart from the get-go than I found in the bits I read of CoT, though obviously I've no idea how much that was developed in the later chapters of the latter.
 

Rodders

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Based on Vertigo's review, I downloaded it for my Kindle. Rather delighted to learn that it was only £2.99.

I also downloaded Children of Ruin. (Adrian has been on my radar for some time now, so this is just the excuse I needed to get involved.)
 

Vertigo

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Based on Vertigo's review, I downloaded it for my Kindle. Rather delighted to learn that it was only £2.99.

I also downloaded Children of Ruin. (Adrian has been on my radar for some time now, so this is just the excuse I needed to get involved.)
I'm sure you do but... do you know Children of Ruin is the sequel to Children of Time and only makes sense after reading CoT?
 

Rodders

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Yeah, sorry. I had Children of Time from an earlier download.
 

williamjm

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Would this be a good introduction to him, or should I go for Children of Time?
I think either would be a good choice. I really liked them both, I think I might say Dogs of War was better because I can't really find much to criticise in it, whereas in Children of Time I found the human characters a bit dull compared to the spiders.

I also enjoyed his Shadows of the Apt series a lot, but it was noticeable that his writing improved a lot over the course of the ten books so I'm not sure I'd suggest that as the best introduction to him.

For a fantasy reader the standalone Guns of the Dawn might also work well as an introduction, although it's a bit different to his other books so maybe not really representative.
 

Parson

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Would you believe Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky is not available as a Kindle version in the U.S. and Amazon calls it a "rare" book. What's going on here anyhow?
 

Cat's Cradle

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@Parson, I couldn't find it on Audible US (Audible.com), either, a few times in the past when I wanted it (even though I live in Europe, I get my Audible books from Audible US...long story).

I found it yesterday - directly at the Audible site, for one credit (so, I didn't use that handy trick of yours of going to Amazon.com, and buying a greatly discounted Audible book in conjunction with the Kindle version; I've saved so much money using that technique, BTW, thank you).

I bought Dogs of War yesterday after reading this thread, so thanks, all, for the postings. :) Here's the link to the book at Audible US:


edit - weird thing - even though the title of the link above says Audible UK, the link takes me directly to Audible.com, not Audible.UK, which are - at least for me - two different sites. Hope this works for you.
 

Brian G Turner

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edit - weird thing - even though the title of the link above says Audible UK, the link takes me directly to Audible.com, not Audible.UK, which are - at least for me - two different sites. Hope this works for you.
If you're in the UK, it tries to redirect you to the Audible UK homepage - but there's a link at the top asking if you really want to continue to Audible.com.
 

Parson

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@Cat's Cradle Someone is supplying me with the ebook so all is very well here. Thanks for the idea. I wouldn't have thought to look for an Audible version.

BTW I'm doing much, much, less book listening. I've started listening to pod casts on my several times a week walk, and I severely curtailed book listening in the car. I found that I was often not paying enough attention to my driving.
 
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