Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West's most dangerous outlaw gangs - the troop led by "Reverend" Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned "hexslinger," and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow's task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook's power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.
Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world - a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.
Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook's witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow's only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess's fate comes clear - the doom written for him, and the entire world.
©2010 ChiZine Publications (P)2012 Iambik Audio Inc.
"(A) boundary-busting horror-fantasy debut.... fully delivers both sizzling passions and dark chills." (Publishers Weekly)
"Files' poetic prose is pitch-perfect: languid, precise and full of dark imagery..." (Justine Warwick, Rue Morgue #102)
"Gangs of New York rubs against the cross-genre cheek of True Blood, mashed with a healthy dollop pf J.R.R. Tolkien by way of a dusty, mud- and semen-caked Deadwood... truly one-of-a-kind, violent, carnal and creepy." (Fangoria)
Many different periods have been re-imagined with magic (medieval of course, or Victorian England with Steampunk), but this was my first Western/Magic hybrid. Odd but well crafted, and internally consistent. Kudos to the author for bringing forth this original setting.
The world depicted is violent and crass, but believable given the premise, and populated by interesting characters. The narration is very well done, with diverse accents and tones that fit the characters and make them easily distinguishable.
The prologue sounds a bit like Mayan Mythology 101 on acid, but don't let it discourage you; it is not at all representative of the rest of the writing style of the novel - which is much more straightforward.
The emotional relationship between several of the male leads is important to the story and key to understanding their motivations and actions, but this is far from a romance novel.
Overall a recommended read (or listen!).
I read the reviews before purchasing this. I thought the idea of a magician in cowboy times was unique and interesting. I saw that there was some "objectionable material", but as a liberal pro-gay rights guy, I figured it was homophobes who couldn't get past a few squeamish (for them) parts. I was very wrong. The love scenes in this book are explicit, and seemingly pointless. We get that the lead character is gay, but even if he were heterosexual, I wouldnt need explicit blow-by-blow accounts of their positions and orgasms to understand their sexuality. The sex in this book becomes a distraction from the story, and whole Gordon Mackenzie's enthusiastic narration is a credit to him as a voice actor, it made it even more uncomfortable. If you're looking for a great story with fantasy and western themes, I'm not qualified to judge, because I couldnt get through it. However, if you're looking for steamy sex (in this case homosexual sex), download away. Ms Files, stick to story elements and move away from shocking sex for shock's sake.
Sex distracts from what, on the surface seems to be a good idea.
The idea is unique.
If you are the type of person with 'sensibilities' on the topic of homosexuality, run far away! This book is filled with multiple instances of graphically detailed descriptions of man on man action that occur across multiple chapters. Not that that's all the book was about, but at times it did seem that way. The narrator was good, providing distinct voices for each character. The story jumped around a bit, going from the main story to a flashback, then a flashback in a flashback then returning to ride the first flashback for a while until finally returning to the stories present leaving you to do the mental gymnastics to follow the timeline.
That said, the characters and the story developed well and was an interesting listen, if a bit (to put it mildly) to much information on the whole gay sex thing the characters had going.
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