BLACKDOG by KV Johansen (AUDIOBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT)
It’s been a long wait for an audiobook of Blackdog, but here it is!
When Blackdog was first published in 2011 it was marketed as a standalone, though I always knew it was only the start of a longer epic. Still, it does stand nicely on its own as a completed story… with a lot of character threads leading off eastward at the end, as the original story becomes book one of the series Gods of the Caravan Road.
Blackdog is the journey of a caravan-guard, Holla-Sayan, possessed by a shapeshifting dog-spirit of obsessive protective impulse and dubious sanity, bound as the guardian of Attalissa, a lake goddess whose current avatar is a powerless child. On the run, pursued by agents of the warlord who conquered Attalissa’s lake and town and who, the goddess insists, intends to devour her, Holla-Sayan raises his supposed daughter as a caravan guard, preparing for the day they can return to the lake and confront the warlord, who is far more dangerous than any mere wizard. Meanwhile, Ivah, the warlord’s wizard daughter, stalks them, intent on capturing Attalissa, and the immortal wanderer Moth closes in, carrying a sword forged by the Old Great Gods and set on her own deadly mission to hunt down the remaining survivors of the seven devils who long ago escaped into the world from the cold hells.
The journey begun in Blackdog continues eastward in the duology of Marakand — The Leopard (part one) and The Lady (part two) (which are books two and three of Gods of the Caravan Road). This is where the cursed and undying assassin Ahjvar, possessed by a ghost who feeds on death, comes into things, with his companion Ghu, who fled slavery in the empire of Nabban but is hiding a lot of secrets, even from Ahjvar. Their story tangles with those of Holla-Sayan and Moth and Ivah, and spins off new threads, in a city ruled by a mad goddess and flung into a bloody civil war.
Book four is Gods of Nabban, and this is definitely the book that belongs to Ahjvar and Ghu. The pair of them really took over my imagination and the story at this point. In some ways it’s a tangent to the main thread of Moth’s quest, but in others … it’s vital for what comes after. Some people — a book club in a maximum security penitentiary, for one — have read it as a standalone, taking Ahjvar and Ghu’s story separate from the larger arc. That visit to the pen was the most interesting and in-depth reading and discussion I’ve ever been part of. Ahjvar and Ghu, and in particular, Ahjvar, soul-wounded and struggling, seem to have come to matter deeply to a lot of people. I did promise the guys I met there that Ahjvar and Ghu were going to survive unbroken whatever the story threw at them, and I did keep that promise. It mattered. This book, though, throws quite a lot at both of them, as they travel back to war-torn Nabban, where Ghu has unfinished business with its dying gods.
The Last Road, book five, wraps up the series a couple of centuries later. It’s a long, hard, dark road that brings all the main characters — Moth and Mikki, Ahjvar and Ghu, Yeh-Lin, and Holla-Sayan, back together as the army of the cult of the nameless god first mentioned in Blackdog marches out of the west towards Marakand, destroying the gods and goddess of the lands it conquers. It’s grim. It’s dark. It’s, ultimately, hopeful — I hope.
All five novels of Gods of the Caravan Road are being released as audiobooks over the next few months, so keep an eye out for that!
Blackdog is available now from: