a question of honour (BOOK II)
by andres laszlo jr.

In the second book of the series we meet our hero as he’s at the end of his “all those things a man should have done” project that he has put himself through in order to become “man enough” to go after those who murdered his parents. He has fulfilled most of his resolutions and he has grown since last we saw him. Karli is smarter than when we met him last, something we notice through his quirky word games and limericks. Also, Karl – without training too much and thus totally inexplicably – has developed physically to the point where he could compete for Olympic gold in decathlon (Karli inherent traits as Odin's son are starting to manifest themselves). 

Karl has also continued his study of the Arabic drug trade and his presently working on an article on “Mecca’s Position in Arabic Drug Trading” (next article could be “Arab Drug Trading; Where do the Profits Go?”). Karl has stayed in contact with most of the people we met at the beginning of book one: Johanna, Igor, Helmut etc. and though his life has been in danger many times, it seems as if whoever killed his parents has no murderous intentions as to Karl.

A fellowship at All Souls College has made Oxford the “fixest” points in Karl’s existence and he’s getting along well with Mike Thorn: Karl’s “Arab drug trafficking tutor”. In Oxford Karl’s existence mainly revolves around Arab drug trade, dodgy antique dealings, and women; though the memory of Farida is deeply engraved onto his heart, Karl remains a ladies man.

There are a couple of countries left to take the tally to 200 - which was one of Karl’s initial resolutions – and as we meet him he’s at a travel agent in Bangkok, attempting to get a good price on a South-East-Asia-round-trip. Once the haggling - that shows us that greed is still a part of him - is over, Karl looks for something to do while the visas are processed.

Karl gets a good deal on a return ticket to Dacca and he asks the travel agent what one does in Bangladesh. You go Khulna, beautiful jungle, big tiger eat woodcutter. Eventually, the penny drops and Karl realizes that he’s on his way to the forest where Hyatt used to hunt man-eaters several decades earlier. Karl feels a bit uncomfortable as he recalls his nearly forgotten resolution. However, thanks to Farida, it is a rather watered down one: So you’d only shoot a licensed, free of charge man-eater if you in the process could keep somebody from being killed? That doesn’t sound very likely and Karl isn’t all that worried. I’ll ask. They’ll think me an idiot and laugh, but at least that way I will be able to say that I’ve tried.

Alexandra is a stunning Dutch girl, working on a UN road project in the jungle. She spots Screamer as he’s about to attack a cow and she fires her rifle into the air just as her handbook prescribes. Screamer isn’t frightened but starts approaching her, but as the villagers arrive he leaves. Alex is now seriously admonished by the father of her friend Napur’s: Tiger take cow okay. Government pay cattle compensation money, tiger get cow inside, he not eat us, we get food, better he eat cow even if holy – take cow okay.

The following night Screamer kills Napur; Alex feels responsible, swears to avenge her friend’s death and goes to Khulna where she attempts to talk Jim - the wine-drinking local head ranger - into going after the tiger. Jim refuses: He’s dangerous, and I can’t license him until he breaks the 1-2-3-rule. Suddenly they are interrupted by a very tentative knock on the door.

In comes the biggest man Jim has ever seen; the man coughs, excuses himself and looks embarrassed. God day, I… I… Then the big man spots stunning Alex and is totally metamorphosed. I’m here to shoot a tiger, says the big man, in his best Oxford English, the man-eating type. Jim unceremoniously pushes Alex – who makes sheep’s eyes at the big man – out the door.

As Jim realizes that the big man doesn’t really want to shoot a tiger and in addition has no intention of paying the customary bribes, he shows him too to the door, but only after giving him what he obviously came for; Such a license would have to be signed by me and I wouldn’t sign one for all the steak in India.

Outside, Alex is waiting and she invites Karl along to stay in her hut while she tries to get him a license to go after Screamer. So if I get you a license you will go after him, even into the forest? Alex asks. Definitely, wild horses couldn’t keep stop me, Calvin answers, enthusiastic to Alexandra’s body and its language and in the secure knowledge that Jim will never sign a license.

However, once at “Hiron Point” one obstacle after the other “falls” away and, very contrary to his own desire, Karl soon finds himself in a situation where he is expected to go after Screamer (the man-eating tiger we got to know in book 1) the next day. At this point, Karl realises that his personality really has changed. He realises that he no longer thinks that he has the right to kill a tiger or any animal on the verge of extinction. However, Karl is honest enough to be suspicious of himself: Is that really how I feel or do I simply not have the guts?

Jim stops the hunt before Karl is forced to take a decision and Karl is over the moon. However, though Karl says that he is misunderstood, everybody now regards him as a coward (that doesn’t go anyhow) and probably a worthless hunter. Eventually a radio communication with the son of the famous Hyatt Khan – the son who tried to kill Karl in book 1 and who lost his own integrity/honour in his encounter with Screamer – sets everything “right”. “It’s a stupid mistake. Mister Nobel is a great hunter; I can think of nobody I’d rather match against that tiger of yours,” and “My father has cleared things with the head ranger in Khulna.” Omar is lying; he has hunted wild boar with Karl and knows that Karl is a pretty mediocre hunter. In addition, no licence has been granted.

Karl realizes the truth but chooses to go anyhow. As Karl sits down by the dead human body that is used as bait, we follow his contemplations about his life in general and about what lies ahead particularly. We also follow Screamer as he contemplates his hunger and the big stick-bearing human that sits next to his food.

It all comes down to a monumental fight out in the river where few Reader’s sympathies will be undivided. Out there Karl can compensate - for his “lack” of strength, power, speed, claws, and fangs - by managing to reach what his opponent cannot: the river bottom. It ends with two wounded heroes: the tiger returns to his food and the human drifts off in a rowing boat out into the Bay of Bengal and new adventures.

While all this happens we also follow: (i) The murder investigation that is reopened back in Sweden and how Larson and Johanna are getting ever closer to the Destroyer, (ii) How the Kharajites and EUSDAT interact and how the bad guys start their “turn-the-world-into-an-Islam-caliphate-project” by demanding that Spain turns over the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta to the Moroccans, (iii) Frida’s relentless march towards the political top and (iv) How Igor attempts to clinch an antique sphinx for himself, bamboozling Karl.