PodCastle 104: The Dog King

By Holly Black

Read by Erik Luke (of the Extruding America podcast)

Originally published in The Poison Eaters & Other Stories

Each year, wolves are caught in traps or, very occasionally, a litter is discovered and they are brought to the city to die spectacularly. Arn wolves are striking, black and slim as demons, with the unsettling habit of watching the audience as they tear out the throats of their opponents. City dwellers are made to feel both uneasy and inviolable by the dog fights; the caged wolf might be terrible, but it is caged. And the dog fights are majestic tented affairs, with the best bred dogs from all parts of the world as challengers. Expensive and exotic foods perfume the air, lulling one into the sense that danger is just another alluring spice.


Not to be outdone by his subjects, the king of Dunbardain obtained his own wolf pup and has trained it to be his constant companion. He calls it Elienad. It is quite a coup to have one, not unlike making the son of a great foreign lord one’s slave. The wolf has very nice manners, too. He rests beneath the king’s table, eats scraps of food daintily from the king’s hand, and lets the ladies of the court ruffle his thick, black fur.

Rated R For Wolves in the Fold, No Matter Their Manners