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I'm looking for a novel I can only remember one detail of, two or more characters are passing through the woods and come upon a charcoal makers camp that has been attacked by someone or something, the characters realise there's a problem when they encounter the smoke from the charcoal ovens burning out of control, I can't even remember if they find the woodsmen dead or just gone. I have the feeling the genre was either Fantasy, Steampunk or Alternative History but otherwise I'm stumped. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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This is almost certainly Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett. Supporting evidence is as follows:

  • two or more characters are passing through the woods

    After a few hours of this, when true dawn was breaking, they smelled smoke. There was a faint pall of it among the trees.

  • and come upon a charcoal makers camp

"Charcoal oven," whispered Polly. "Just clay plastered on a stack of hazel."

  • that has been attacked by someone or something, the characters realise there's a problem when they encounter the smoke from the charcoal ovens burning out of control

"The wind probably caught it last night and the fire's broken out. Won't make good charcoal now, it's burning too fast."

then

"The charcoal burner is dead, or nearly dead," said Polly.

and

"They watch the burns like hawks," said Polly, staring at the hut. "He wouldn't let it go out of control like that if he was alive."

  • 1
    Perfect, thank you, I was getting badly off track thinking it was a David Gemmell or a China Miéville, Monsterous Regiment here I come. – Ash Jan 28 '18 at 10:14

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