Waiting for the End of the World

by Andrew Taylor

Saturday, February 28, 2004

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From Andrew Taylor’s website:

The book’s early reviewers often attached the word “amoral” to it, and in particular to Dougal. (I doubt if they would do so now.) It would be more accurate to say that Dougal is morally flexible, as most of us are, to greater or lesser extent. He’s actually talking about Caroline Minuscule there but I noticed the ‘amoral’ tag on the back cover of this book and wanted to comment on it though finding Taylor’s comment has rather stolen my thunder by saying that the idea of Dougal as amoral is outdated but I’ll post my take on it all the same. I don’t think that William Dougal is at all unconcerned with whether things are right and wrong.

In the first book of the series William walks in on a dead body and decides that rather than getting caught up in the complexities of reporting it he’ll pretend he was never there, that’s probably a crime but more like a sin of omission than one of commission. He’s done something which is part of my worst nightmares: made one relatively minor mistake and from that the rest of his life has simply spiralled out of his control. Two books later and there’s no way he’s going to get his regular life back any day soon.

To me though William always seems to be trying to do the right thing, which is definiteley acting morally; he’s just got a knack for digging himself in deeper as he tries to get out.

A fun series, I don’t think I’d like it half as much if I felt the the central character was amoral.