The Dog of Pel is a refreshing fantasy with a likeable cast, an unusual world and an unpredictable and gripping story. The inhabitants of the world the author created have a physical bond to their land (demesne) that allows them to live and work there, but if they wish to go outside of their own area, they must wear a special necklace or they will sicken and die. The world building is too complex to explain easily, but it all makes sense within its own framework.
The central character, Jamie Pel is the secondary heir of the Magne of Pel, his uncle, and he doesn’t want or expect to ever take on the role of Magne, but when his uncle and cousin (the primary heir) are killed, he’s thrust into not only the job but also a power struggle between magnes of the different demesnes. Jamie doesn’t know what to do or who to trust, but if he doesn’t do something the whole land could be destroyed.
The book is well written with the kind of tension on every page that keeps you reading long after you should have turned out the light. The characters and relationships are complex and well-drawn, and the book has the right balance between description and action. Jamie’s adventures aren’t restricted to the physical world either, his experiences in the void between the demesnes are fascinating.
I recommend this to all who love fantasy and are thirsting for something a bit different.