This volume is a handy addition to those two tales that have immortalized Jack London: The Call of the Wild and White Fang. London revisits that hardy frontier, the Klondike, during the years of the Gold Rush. This is a collection of short stories with several characters showing up in more than one tale. They are tales that make you want to gaze into the fire and imagine the life out here on this deadly frontier, where a flask of rum can mean the difference between life and death. The Son of the Wolf shows us how love can transcend ethnic barriers, especially at gunpoint. In a Far Country is brilliant in its depiction of slow-rising madness among tenderfeet who have been voted off the sled trail. There is no mercy in the cold silence of the North, except Death. Where the Trail Forks shows us the deadly consequences of having a conscience in the wild. How many innocents pay for your heroic ideals?
Keesh, the son of Keesh shows us how far a man can be goaded to throw off the precepts of an alien culture and prove his manhood in his own, with horrifying ramifications. The League of the Old Men is about an old man with nothing to lose, who convinces other geriatrics that murderous sprees might go a small way towards restoring the balance of power on this continent. Bâtard is probably the best story of the set, about a pup who knows no love, but knows when to kill, in the most malignant way with impeccable timing. Love of Life recounts just how fragile life is, when you sprain your ankle and you are miles from the nearest settlement and then realize you are being stalked by a wolf. Finally, we round this set of adventure stories off with To Build a Fire, where London shows us how fatal it is to walk alone in -75 degree weather. The price paid for such a mistake is the ultimate one, as always.
London is superb in these stories and paints a realistic picture of a world gone by.