________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 5. . . .October 24, 2008


Clan of the Dung-Sniffers.

Lee Danielle Hubbard.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2008.
297 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-05-0.

Grades 7 and up/ Ages 12 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Kem finished his examination of Glane and turned on me. My time had come. "What happened to your beard?" he demanded.

"I dyed it."

"And the yellow skin?"

"I can wash it off."

"Do you know how harmful these toxins are? You–?"

The door saved me. It swung open with a scream of hinges to admit my brother Leque, late as always. He and I shared that attribute: we could not be expected to keep track of things like time.

"I found a new job," Leque announced, by way of greeting. "The Stone Masons' Guild has hired me for the building of a new housing complex, over by the east gates." He waved his arm in a vague westerly direction. Muscles rippled on his shoulders, thick as copulating snakes. "Is Blade here yet?"

"Not yet," said Kem.


The title, Clan of the Dung-Sniffers, refers to a group of eight young men who form an informal brotherhood after they accidentally damage a religious object known as the Radiance. One of the members has dubbed the group the Clan of the Dung-Sniffers. The purpose of this group is to repair and replace the Radiance without being caught.

     The book's setting is not of this earth. There are two suns in the sky and a legend of a third sun that crashed into the ocean, turning it into acid. The place they live is simply known as the City. The Marble Tower is located in the centre of the City, and the Radiance hung in the tower, a symbol of the fallen sun. The occupations of the eight men give us a clue to the level of civilization. We have a nobleman's young son and his former servant; a Bedouin story-teller; a cobbler and his cousin who works in a hospital; a City guard; a cross-dresser; and a boy who wants to fly, but after being stung by a bee, is now growing feathers.

     The story is told mainly through following two of the characters: Ksar the cynical unemployed 30-year-old who likes to paint and pierce himself and wear strange objects, and Yaryk, the mystical Bedouin who has captivated young Xavier with his tales of life beyond the City walls. Xavier is 14, calls himself Blade, and is the heir to the most important family in the City. The group is thrown into confusion as Glane, the boy who is now growing feathers, has to be hospitalized. In the meanwhile, the authorities are trying to locate the people who desecrated the Marble Tower and stole the Radiance.

     This is a strange little tale set in an even stranger land where, in the beginning, the characters seem to just talk and complain and wander aimlessly around the City. Half way through the story, Blade and Yaryk leave the City and journey to the Citadel, a fortress city once controlled by the Bedouin. Ksar, by accident, becomes a monk within the Marble Tower.

     Well-written, with vivid descriptions of an alien, arabic-like, medieval world, Clan of the Dung-Sniffers will appeal to readers who enjoy exploring the unusual. There is no magic or wizards, just the feelings and thoughts of a band of sometimes confused misfits. While there is some violence, it is not gratuitous or gory. The book contains 297 pages plus four pages of other volumes by this publisher and a brief author's biography. There is a one page map of the area.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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