Dogboy by Christopher Russell, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble


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by Christopher Russell

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Discovered as a baby in Sir Edmund's kennels, Brind has grown up with the mastiffs. He plays with them, eats with them, and sleeps in their den. Brind understands dogs better than he understands any human.


The largest and most powerful dog in the pack, Glaive is Brind's best friend. He would do



Discovered as a baby in Sir Edmund's kennels, Brind has grown up with the mastiffs. He plays with them, eats with them, and sleeps in their den. Brind understands dogs better than he understands any human.


The largest and most powerful dog in the pack, Glaive is Brind's best friend. He would do anything for the dog boy, even race straight into battle.


Thrown out of her home as the French army prepares for the English invasion, Aurélie can either beg outside the town wall with her mother, or fight the enemy herself. She has never been one to sit still.

When the English and French armies clash at the Battle of Crécy, there will be honor, treachery, loss, chivalry—and glory. For Brind, Glaive, and Aurélie, this is only the beginning.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The book jacket of this YA novel nicely sums up the story: "born a boy, raised with dogs, became a hero". It starts out a bit slowly while focusing on adult characters, but as soon as the action focuses on dogboy Brind, it picks up speed. It has an extremely original premise: twelve-year old Brind was found as an infant among a litter of puppies. Since then he has lived with Sir Edmund, a medieval knight and Lord. Brind sleeps, eats, and plays with his master's brood of Mastiffs, functioning as both caretaker and member of the pack. Although he speaks English, Brind is also well versed in dogese: growling, barking, and snarling to communicate with both his canine companions and other humans. When Sir Edmund decides to take Brind and his dogs to fight a war in France, the action of the novel accelerates considerably. Along the way, Brind finds a ten-year old French orphan, Aurelie. When Sir Edmund is presumed dead and the pack of dogs disappears, Brind and Aurelie go off in search of Brind's favorite dog, Glaive. The two children survive in the woods on mushrooms and berries while fleeing from various dangers, including a fire, a possessive knight, and the evil and abusive Tullo. Plucky Aurelie is the most appealing of the main characters, but all are well developed, and the story moves along swiftly. This book was originally published in England under the name Brind. 2006, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, Ages 12 up.
—Leslie Wolfson
The year is 1346, and England and France are embroiled in The Hundred Years War. Sir Edmund Dowe, an aging country knight, is called to aid the king. In preparation for the war in France, Edmund brings the cruel Tullo, his huntsman; his pack of mastiffs; and Brind, the dogboy. Akin to Tarzan, the monosyllabic Brind is a foundling who has lived with Edmund's pack all his life. Glaive may be the alpha male, but Brind is the true leader of the pack. In the Battle of Crecy, members of the group are separated. Trying his best to ensure that Edmund's party dies, Tullo succeeds-or so he thinks. After shambolic events in the Battle of Crecy, Brind meets Aurelie, a young French girl who helps him find Glaive and nurse him back to health. They also join Edmund and get back to England to thwart Tullo's plan to set himself up in comfort. In this marvelous first novel from British scriptwriter Russell, the action moves apace. Characters are interesting, but one feels that their development could be a little more complete. For many readers, particularly boys, it has everything-dogs, war, hunting, knights, and storms at seas, along with the slightest hint of potential romance between Brind and Aurelie. Reluctant readers will find themselves engrossed in the tale and will love Brind's adventures. It is a compelling story that is sure be a hit with upper elementary and middle school students. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, HarperCollins, 272p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—Mike Brown
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Sir Edmund Dowe, a middle-aged knight who's fallen on hard times, has decided to join his countrymen in the first stage of the Hundred Years War between England and France and takes his ragtag servants with him: Tullo, a cruel but effective huntsman; Philip, Dowe's weedy nephew and page; and 12-year-old Brind, the dogboy. As a baby, Brind was found among a litter of mastiff puppies, and as a boy, he is invaluable to Sir Edmund as someone who can communicate with the large, fierce dogs. During the battle of Cr cy, Glaive, the leader of the mastiff pack, escapes from his French attackers into the woods. Brind tracks the wounded dog (who is also his best friend) and stumbles across a 10-year-old French refugee named Aur lie. Despite a rough start, the two become companions during their journey to survive the perils that follow them, including an English lord bent on owning Brind for his own dogboy and the vengeful Tullo. The action is fast-paced with narrow escapes at every turn and elements of dry humor at the most unlikely times. While the coincidences of all the characters repeatedly meeting up might stretch credulity at times, the elements of the deus ex machina are important to keeping up the speed of the story. Readers who are in transition from the "reluctant" to the "eager" phases will find enough adventure here to hold their attention.-Farida S. Dowler, Mercer Island Library, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In 1346, an ignorant kennel boy is transported to France with his master's hunting hounds to witness the historical Battle of Crecy. Orphaned as a baby, 12-year-old Brind grew up in estate kennels caring for Sir Edmund's prized pack of mastiffs. Naive and uneducated, "Brind didn't understand humans like he understood dogs," especially Glaive, the pack leader. Summoned to join the king's armies assembling to invade France, impoverished Sir Edmund includes Brind and the mastiffs in his meager retinue. After a difficult Channel crossing, Sir Edmund and his mastiffs engage the French army at Crecy, where Brind is separated from everyone. Alone in the French countryside, the devoted Brind is determined to find Glaive and Sir Edmund. When he encounters Aurelie, a feisty ten-year-old French girl exiled from besieged Calais, the two homeless enemies reluctantly join forces. Using wit and courage, the plucky pair escapes treachery, captivity and storm to reach England. Spare prose accentuates the fast-paced action. A realistic peek at chivalry from the perspective of two wily waifs. (Historical fiction. 10+)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Christopher Russell

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Christopher Russell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060841168

Chapter One


The dogs were getting closer. The boy could hear their music. Deep-throated, eighty voices together, calling as one now that they were locked on to the scent. His scent. He ran on. Low-growing hazel branches lashed his face. Brambles tore and snatched at his legs. Tree roots, hidden in the leaf mold, tried to trip and bring him down. Over a fallen oak, its dead wood cracking in his hands as he grabbed and clambered. Then the stream, ice cold and slippery under his bare feet. He paused in the mud on the far side. Where now? His heart seemed to fill his whole body and head with its thumping. The stream tinkled unconcernedly. The boy wanted to lie down and roll in it, to splash and cool his hot face, but there was no time. He had to run.

The stream caused the dogs no confusion. The boy's scent was strong and fresh. Very fresh. The pack leader spoke and plunged across and the others followed, taking up the call again, excited, expectant. Born to hunt.

The boy was running uphill now. Fewer trees, firmer ground, but it was steep and getting steeper. The muscles in his legs began to stiffen, his knees shrieked at him to stop, but he couldn't, not yet. Not yet. Then the ground leveled unexpectedly and straight ahead of him was a cliff ofchalk. He'd gone wrong. There shouldn't be a cliff, just a path through low-growing blackthorn up onto the downs. Confused, he cast around, then stumbled on toward the cliff, as if the path would suddenly appear. But there was only the cliff, high and wide and sheer. The hound music was momentarily quieter, deflected by the change in level of the ground, but the boy knew the dogs were still coming.

He tried to climb the cliff, clutching at tufts of grass and deep-rooted blackthorn, clawing his way upward. But the chalk was treacherous, crumbling beneath his toes and coming away in his fingers, so that he slipped and fell, scraping and bloodying his knees as he went. And as he hit the ground, the dogs arrived. The boy picked himself up and faced them. There was nowhere to run, and he could run no further anyway. The chase was over.

The dogs crowded forward triumphantly behind the pack leader, their noise deafening now that they were so close. Mastiffs. Massive and powerful. Born to hunt and trained to kill. The pack leader launched itself at the boy, knocking him to the ground and pinning him there with huge, hard paws. The boy felt a gust of suffocating dog's breath as the mastiff opened jaws that could snap a man's neck.

And then it licked him. A slobbering lick from chin to forehead. The helpless boy gurgled with pleasure as the dog lapped at his nose, his cheeks, his ears, while its tail wagged furiously. The boy grabbed the dog's own ears and waggled them, then was aware of yelping and turmoil, and the crack of a whip.

The rest of the pack was backing off, turning and cowering. The whip cracked again, inches from the boy's head and that of the pack leader. Voices shouted, men's voices, one harsher and closer than the rest. The pack leader sprang sideways from the boy as the whip bit into its flank. And the boy found himself staring up at a man on a sweating horse. The man seemed very high above him. High as the blue sky itself.

"Get up, you little cur," the man said.

The boy did as he was told.

"Good chase, Tullo," he panted.

The man grunted. "Better still if they'd torn you to bits."

He turned his horse away and cracked the whip again at the mastiffs. Men on foot were using sticks, herding the dogs into a dense, subdued mass. The leader of the pack glowered and snarled at the man on the horse but backed slowly into the pack, no longer the dominant leader but a wary, resentful subject, acknowledging the power of the whip.

Then they were gone. Men, dogs, and horses. Out of sight, back down the hill toward the stream, the forest, and home. Leaving the boy where he stood, as if he were nothing to them. Which he was. Except to the dogs.

Sir Edmund Dowe was a happy man. He watched with pride as the pack of mastiffs, his mastiffs, the finest in all of England, streamed back into their paddocks. He leaned on the wooden rail, Tullo, his huntsman, standing beside him.

"They're looking fit, Tullo. Plenty of muscle. And they did well this morning."

"Well enough, sir, but the boy was lazy. Should have run farther."

Sir Edmund frowned. "Cain's Cliff, you said. That's more than far enough."

"He'll ruin them." Tullo's voice was bitter.

"Far enough for the hounds." Sir Edmund gave the sour-faced man a hard look. "And for me."

Tullo nodded curtly. "Sir."

There was resentment rather than agreement in his eyes. But he knew who was master, just like the hounds.

"Kempe has a dead cow," said Sir Edmund. "Take the cart and fetch it for their supper."

He returned his gaze to the mastiffs, dismissing Tullo, who nodded again. "Sir," he said, and walked away.

Sir Edmund didn't like the man, didn't like him at all. But he was a good huntsman. Over-generous in his use of the whip, perhaps. And the chain. And the stick. But dogs, like servants, had to be taught to mind their manners. Tullo knew his countryside and was cunning in the ways of deer, hare, and boar. That was all one wanted of a huntsman. He didn't need to be likeable. And he did keep the kennels in splendid order. Sir Edmund was almost as proud of his kennels as he was of the mastiffs who lived in them. Like the mastiffs themselves, the kennels . . .


Excerpted from Dogboy by Christopher Russell Copyright © 2006 by Christopher Russell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Christopher Russell is a full-time scriptwriter who has worked on numerous television and radio programs. He is the author of Dogboy, the first book about Brind and Glaive. He lives with his wife on the Isle of Wight in England.

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