The Pict by Jack Dixon
(iUniverse / 0-595-44243-9 / August 2007 / 190 pages / $13.95 Kindle $4.80)
Jack Dixon's first novel is a straightforward tale of heroism in an ancient, barbaric culture. The Pict follows the life of Calach, a young warrior from one of many Pictish tribes in the Scottish highlands, who is selected to organize and lead the tribes into battle against a massive, invading, Roman army. Mr. Dixon has obviously done his homework. The book opens with a Pronunciation Guide to Pictish Names, as well as a map of the area depicted in the story. The author closes the book with an explanation of some of the details of his research concerning the nonfictional elements of his historical fiction novel. The storyline follows Calach as a boy learning the proper emotions for a warrior to the end of the first major wave of battles against the Romans.
The Pict has only one weakness: it is far too short. This should have been a novel of epic proportions. The 183 pages of actual text is printed in an oversized font that may be easy for youngsters and old coots to read, but the lack of detail in the story leaves much to be desired. The author cares about his subject matter. The composition, editing, and proofreading are competent at the least. The cover design is elegant, stylish, and appropriate to the subject matter. Please, Mr. Dixon, expand your horizons! Write another book, a sequel perhaps, and expound upon your subject matter with more detail. Your dedication to your subject matter flows from the pages. We just need more of them.
The Pict has a storyline that should appeal to a lot of readers. There is just enough familiarity in the subject to make it interesting. I had heard of The Picts, but I knew very little about them, and I bet that describes many potential readers. Jack Dixon has made a fine first effort. Let's hope he continues, and expands upon, his writing.