The Wild Road

The Wild Road

by Gabriel King

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780099242529
Publisher: Random House of Canada, Limited
Publication date: 11/26/1997

About the Author

A lifelong cat lover, Gabriel King has shared a home with every variety of feline, from stray to pedigree. He lives in London.

Read an Excerpt



Alone, thought Tag.

He tested this idea until sudden panic swept through him. He ran around
and around the lawn until he was tired again. He licked his fur in the
sunshine for ten minutes. He couldn't think what to do. He jumped up onto
a windowsill and rubbed both sides of his face on the window pane.
"Breakfast!" he demanded. But clearly it would not be feeding him today.
So he jumped down and tried the same with the back door. No luck. Clearly
no one would be feeding him today.

He had a new idea. He would feed himself.

Eat a bee, he thought. Eat more than one.

And he tore off excitedly across the lawn, the little bell on his collar
jingling.

An hour later he had chased four houseflies, a blackbird, two sparrows,
and a leaf. He had caught one of the houseflies and the leaf. The leaf
proved to be unpalatable. No bees were about. All this effort made him
hungrier than before. He went back to the house and jumped up on the
windowsill again.

"Yow!" he said.

Nothing. It was silent and empty in there.

He stalked a wren, which scolded him from a safe place inside a hedge. He
tried it on with two squirrels, who bobbed their tails at him and sped off
along the top of a board fence at a breakneck pace, vying with each other
for the lead and calling "Stuff you!" and "Stuff your nuts, mate!" as they
ran. Then he tried a thrush, which kept a lazy eye on him while it shelled
its breakfast--a yellow snail--against a stone, then rose up neatly as he
pounced, and with no fuss or fluster cleared his optimistic jaws by four
inches and left him clapping his front pawssilently on empty air.

"Nice technique," said an interested voice behind him.

"Pretty stupid cat, though," answered another. "Anyone could have caught
that."

Tag thought he recognized one of the voices, but he was too ashamed to
turn around and look. For the rest of that day, he ate flies. They were
easy to catch and, depending on what they had eaten recently, even tasted
good. In the middle of the afternoon he bullied some sparrows off half a
slice of buttered white bread two gardens along the row. Finally, he went
back to the place where he had argued with the thrush. There he caught
some snails. They didn't taste in the slightest bit good, but at least, he
thought, he was denying them to the thrush.

Toward evening it began to rain.

The rain came stealthily at first, a drop here and a drop there. It tapped
and popped on the leaves of the hostas, where it gathered as shiny
beads--each containing a tiny curved image of the world--that soon collapsed
into little short-lived rivulets. The snails, sensing the rain, opened
themselves up gratefully. Then, sensing Tag, they shut themselves away
again. There was a kind of hush around the sound of each raindrop.

Tag watched the snails and waited. A cat with a thick coat doesn't feel
the rain until too late. Suddenly it was pouring down on him, straight as
a stair rod, cold and penetrating as a needle. He was surprised and
disgusted to find himself soaked. His skin twitched. He stretched and
stood up. He shook out first one front paw, then the other. He retreated
to the back doorstep.

No good.

A gust of wind shook the shrubbery and blew the rain across the garden in
swirls, right into his shelter. He sat there grimly for a bit, trying to
lick the damp off his fur, fluffing up, blinking, shaking himself, licking
again. But in the end he had to admit that he was just as wet there as he
would have been in the middle of the lawn.

I hate rain, he thought.

He dashed out into the downpour to try the windowsill.

Wet.

He found a dry patch in the lee of the terra-cotta pots. The wind changed
and blew the rain into his face.

He tried sitting under the trees.

Wet.

Soon it was coming dark. "Stop raining now," said Tag. Every time he
changed position he got wetter. He was hungry again, and cold. But if he
scampered about to keep warm he felt tired very suddenly. He ordered the
rain, "Leave me alone, now." The rain didn't listen. The garden didn't
listen. The wind was like a live thing. It was always blowing from behind
him, ruffling his fur up the wrong way to find and chill any part of him
that still had any warmth left. He turned around and tried to bite the
harder gusts. He ran blindly about or simply sat, becoming more and more
bedraggled. Suddenly he realized that he was sitting by the door of the
garden shed.

Inside, he thought.

He hooked his paw around the bottom of the door and pulled hard. It
wouldn't move. Open! he heard himself think. Open, now! He hooked again
and pulled harder. This made him so weary he needed to sit down; but after
a moment he was cold again and had to force himself to get up.

Hook. Pull. No good.

"Come on, Tag," he encouraged himself. "Come on!"

Hook. Pull. The door scraped open an inch. Then two.

That's enough! thought Tag.

For some minutes he was too worn out to do anything but sit in front of
the door with his head down, looking at nothing. Then he pushed his face
cautiously into the gap, and the rest of him, bedraggled and shivering,
seemed to follow of its own accord.


It rained. Days and nights came and went, and still no one summoned him
for "the task." The house remained empty and the lawn filled with puddles.
Then the last leaves fell from the trees, and the nights drew in tight,
like a collar around a young cat's neck. Smoke hung low over the gardens
in the late afternoon; the days began with thick mists. Winter ushered
itself in, quietly and without fuss, in the voice of the roosting crows,
the raw chill in the evening air. Tag lived in the shed, and soon became
familiar with its pungent smells
of ancient sacks and insecticides, spiderwebs and mice. He never caught a
mouse there, but it was reassuring to think that one day he might. If it
was not warm, the shed was at least dry. The shed saved him.

When he felt strong, he ranged up and down the gardens, three or four
houses in every direction. He ate flies. He ate earthworms. He ate
anything that could be caught without a great expenditure of energy. He
got up in the dawn to beat the squirrels to the scraps of bread and lard
and meat that other cats' dulls put out for the birds. He became thin and
quick but easier and easier to tire. He avoided confrontations. Seen in
the distance in the gardens at sunrise on a cold morning, he was like a
white ghost, a twist of breath in the frost. Close to, his silver coat was
tangled and muddy and out of condition.

Some days it was all he could do to find the energy to crouch at a puddle
and lap up rainwater, then make his way back to the shed. Eat something
tomorrow, he would think; and then after a confused doze get up again in
the belief that tomorrow had already come. Which in a way it had.

He never left the gardens. If he thought about his life, he thought that
this was the way he would live it now. Tiredness, and the comforting sound
of the rain on the roof of the shed.

Then one night everything changed again.

Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

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The Wild Road 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Feeryar More than 1 year ago
I read A LOT. I love to read. I'm addicted to reading. This is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are funny, interesting, deep and amusing, and the plot keeps you turning page after page. And-there are no mary-sues. Each character has a balance of good, bad, and mischief, and although Tag is the main character and hero, he isn't perfect. He makes mistakes that keep the story going and help line up the events in perfect sync. I'd recommend this book for people from age 13-20, mostly because it has a lot of pages for a young kid to read, and small letters. But you will not regret reading it, whatever age you are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book I first read it in 6th grade, and I'm at the end of 7th now, and it's still one of the best books I have ever read!! I greatly reccomend this book to all of you people who wonder where your cat goes when they run off into the night... I have other reviews about Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Yu-Gi-Oh!,and Mara Daughter of the Nile
Guest More than 1 year ago
In an astonishing work, The Wild Road and The Golden Cat, King achieves what Umberto Ecco strives (and fails) to do. He achieves a synthesis of numerous religious, philosophical and cultural schools into a wholely realized conceptual world. Amazingly, his work is quite accessable and a great story to boot with none of the strained intelectualizing games Ecco delights in. Cat lover, Philosopher, Historian, or just a fan of a well written, involving tale, any reader will be well rewarded by picking up these books. I look forward to other works by this fine and refreshing author.
Emidawg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A young cat named Tag is suddenly thrust into a magical journey when he escapes from his home. He discovers he has been chosen by Majicou, keeper of the wild roads, as his new apprentice. The roads are streams of magical energy created by the travel of felines throughout the ages. These roads are imperiled by the intrusions of a human known as the Alchemist, who seeks their secrets for his own. Tag is given a task, he must find the King and Queen of cats and get them to Tintagel, a place sacred to cats, before the spring equinox. If he fails they will fall into the hands of the Alchemist and the wild roads will be lost. Along his way he meets many other cats and animals that aid him on his journey.The story was good but I had a bit of trouble following it at times. The author definitely characterized the nature of cats well but in doing so it made the story a bit muddled. Regardless I look forward to reading the sequel; The Golden Cat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book! It actually takes you into the cats' minds and you can see the world as they see it. The story was awesome with a number of great themes. I've read a lot of books, and this one is one of my favorites! The only reason I have to give this book 4 stars in stead of 5 is because sometimes the adventure seemed too tedious, the dangers too grave, and the villain too villainous. King seemed to be taking animal fantasy to its limits, and that's not always a good thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was, superb! The tale of a courageous kitten on a mission to save the 'CAT' world. If you enjoy books read this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I bought this book, I didn't think I would like it at all. I had just finishe Tailchaser's Song an I was hooked on that. Another book so soon? I rejected it at first. But, as summer went along, I fell in love again. I couldn't beleive the insight Gabriel King had! It was amazing! So, if you like cats, fantasy, or the bad guy getting what he deserves, you'll like this. (Also, if you alreay read Tailchaser's Song, this is a good next book:^)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Is Gabriel King part cat? After reding 'The Wild Road', you may wonder. This book not only gives the actions of the cats, but also the reasons behind those actions. The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams....and the fears. For there are fears. For the first time, you not only SEE what a cat is doing, but you get to know WHY. You speak Catinese, and have the ability to see inside their minds. You will laugh, you will chuckle. You'll cry, and you will curse. And in the end, you will smile through the tears, because life DOES go on. Isn't it strange that it took a band of homeless cats to remind you of that fact?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutly awesome! King's use of language paints a beautiful picture. He really takes you into the novel, writing like he himself was a cat. This book is definatly recommended for book and cat lovers alike.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was sure I'd never find a cat book I liked as much as or more than 'Tailchaser's Song' but here it is. King's book is rich, his use of language is unsurpassed, he does much more than communicate, he draws intricate, beautiful pictures with words. The story is robust and mature, not just a 'cat' story, these cats are fully realized individuals with complex personalities like any 'person.' The whole book is gripping, I couldn't put it down, and immediately moved to the sequal - the Golden Cat. I hope King writes another of these, to continue the story of the characters' lives. I was devastated when I was done reading them both, and had nothing to continue on to!
KittyRa More than 1 year ago
Great book! That is way too general so I'll go into detail. Great book I just read it and it was one of the greatest books I have read! So if you like gripping cat fantasy novels, or just animal novels alone I recomend this book highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great book. it is very well written, a rarity in today's world. you need to pay attention to get the full impact.