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"Don't let the cat out of the bag!" is the phrase I kept repeating to myself as I read Marc Laidlaw's 1996 story "Catamount". "Catamount" also was the introduction of Gorlen Vizenfirthe. He recently reappeared in the August 2008 story, "Childrun".
Laidlaw's stories seem to walk a fine line between the serious and the goofy. Rather, the plot is goofy and Gorlen seems aware of the absurdity of his situation, but everything is presented in the serious trappings of a quest.
Gorlen's task seems simple enough: take a carefully wrapped sack up the mountain to the Wizard Dog. The hike up he hill ends up being no easy task. His way is blocked by cats strange, pissy cats.
Like in "Childrun" Gorlen manages to sort everything out. The ending here isn't as heroic but it's just as satisfying. "Catamount" basically amounts to a shaggy dog story with some cats thrown in to make it interesting. I liked it in context to "Childrun" but the latter is my favorite of the two.