Foremost among the physical liabilities of this capacious (and therefore deceptively young-looking) book is the paper -- too transparent to accommodate the reedy pen-and-inks, which leave marked impressions on their respective reverse sides. Cast clumsily in the past tense, the story itself harbors problems that raise the question of readership: what little action develops is expressed in the passive voice, descriptively, recollectively, and pivots around parallel conflicts -- the pickerel's encounters with predators, the matured pike's own predatory supremacy, the aging pike's last losing battle against man in the person of the ""keeper"" or warden of the German lake area (in the northeast of Mecklenburg, unmapped). The syntax is moderately simple, but the vocabulary (words and concepts) can be disharmoniously advanced, flocked with off-putting lyricism or imagery: for instance, ""Now the concern of the female pike was not with food and hunting, with her tiger-like pounce and the crunch of her jaws on her victim, to be gulped down and digested at leisure in the gloom. Her foraging instinct had been suppressed by the stronger instinct to spawn."" Spawn she does, and Esox lucius is the most enduring result; his size and his power, his voraciousness and his resilience, are indeed formidable -- but so is the long, silent, measured march through his life-cycle, for all of its sensate veracity. Awkward and anomalous.