by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Endling: [Book One] The Last, by Katharine Applegate. Illustrated by Max Kostenko. Map,
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, May 2018, hardcover, $17.99 ([vi +] 383 pages), Kindle $10.99.
This first book in a Young Adult fantasy series, recommended for 8 to 12-year-olds, is narrated by Byx, a young dairne; apparently the last of the dairnes – the endling.
“My parents feared I would be the first among us to die when trouble came, and trouble, they knew, was fast approaching.
I was small. And sometimes disappointing.
But I knew I could be brave as well. I was not afraid to be the first to die.
I just did not want to be the last to live.
I did not want to be the endling.” (p. 5)
Dairnes are a golden-furred doglike people with marsupial-like pouches and arm membranes (glissaires) that can glide, like flying squirrels.
“Dairnes were often mistaken for dogs. We share many physical similarities.
Dogs, however, lack opposable thumbs. They can’t walk upright. They aren’t able to glide from tree to tree. They can’t speak to humans.
And dogs aren’t – forgive me – the sharpest claws in the hunt, if you take my meaning.” (p. 4)
Byx lives in the Kingdom of Nedarra, a large land shown on endpaper maps. Nedarra has nine talking animal species including six primary species:
“That was the closest I had ever come to humans, one of the six great governing species. Those six – humans, dairnes, felivets, natites, terramants, and raptidons – had once been considered the most powerful in our land. But now all of them – even the humans – were controlled by the despotic Murdano.” (pgs. 7-8)
Other talking animals of Nedarra include the wobbyks, the starlons, and the gorellis. Below those are the non-talking animals like chimps, whales, horses, crows, crickets, and so on. That’s Byx and Tobble, a wobbyk, on the cover by Max Kostenko. The wobbyks have three tails and are fierce fighters – according to Tobble:
“‘It’s only fair to warn you,’ said Tobble. ‘You do not want to see an angry wobbyk. We are fearsome to behold. I in particular am known for my fierce temper.’
‘Thank you, Tobble,’ I said. ‘But –’
‘Back home they called me Tobble the Terrible.’” (p. 93)
Byx has never seen a human, but they have been described to her.
“And I learned, most importantly, that humans were never to be trusted, and always to be feared.” (p. 8)