House of the Rising Sun

A Novel
Narrated by: Will Patton
Series: Weldon Holland, Book 2, Hackberry Holland, Book 4
Length: 15 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,322 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Includes an exclusive interview with James Lee Burke!

New York Times best seller James Lee Burke returns with his latest masterpiece, the story of a father and son separated by war and circumstance - and whose encounter with the legendary Holy Grail will change their lives forever.

From its opening scene in revolutionary Mexico to the Battle of the Marne in 1918, and on to the bordellos and saloons of San Antonio during the reign of the Hole in the Wall Gang, House of the Rising Sun is an epic tale of love, loss, betrayal, vengeance, and retribution that follows Texas Ranger Hackberry Holland on his journey to reunite with his estranged son, Ishmael, a captain in the United States Army.

After a violent encounter that leaves four Mexican soldiers dead, Hackberry escapes the country in possession of a stolen artifact, earning the ire of a bloodthirsty Austrian arms dealer who then places Hack's son, Ishmael, squarely in the crosshairs of a plot to recapture his prize, believed to be the mythic cup of Christ.

Along the way, we meet three extraordinary women: Ruby Dansen, the Danish immigrant who is Ishmael's mother and Hackberry's one true love; Beatrice DeMolay, a brothel madam descended from the crusader knight who brought the shroud of Turin back from the Holy Land; and Maggie Bassett, one-time lover of the Sundance Kid, whose wiles rival those of Lady Macbeth. In her own way, each woman will aid Hackberry in his quest to reconcile with Ishmael, to vanquish their enemies, and to return the Grail to its rightful place.

House of the Rising Sun is James Lee Burke's finest novel to date and a thrilling entry into the Holland family saga that continued most recently with Wayfaring Stranger, which the New York Times Book Review described as "saturated with the romance of the past while mournfully attuned to the unholy menace of the present".

©2015 James Lee Burke (P)2015 Simon & Schuster Audio

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Okay…I'll Say It

Hackberry Holland = Dave Robicheaux. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this story to some extent, however, my favorite author (James Lee Burke) used his most popular character's personality, foibles, quips and failures to morph Hackberry Holland into a more interesting anti-hero; one that happens to mirror in many easily recognizable ways his most endearing character, Dave Robicheaux. Thus, I say: Hackberry Holland is Dave Robicheaux, merely set in a new geographic and historical setting.

This book uses so many of the same literary references and imagery (e.g. The Garden of Gethsemane) from the Robicheaux novels that I began to feel like Burke was plagiarizing himself (is that possible?). When I heard Hackberry say he was "going to take it to them under a black flag," my observations were confirmed. That's when I felt very sad.

I asked myself, "Self, is Burke running out of material?" He may be, but he is still a fine writer and poet. The opening sequence is so compelling I started the novel over three times to enjoy the first several paragraphs. As for the rest…I think Dave is more believable. Hackberry is forced, as if he is trying too hard to be a broken man and self-destructive recidivist.

You'll enjoy most of this novel, but it may send you on a journey to seek a new master of the Western/Southern Motif genre.

I give it one Army Colt down and one up.

31 people found this helpful

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Hope this helps someone like me avoid this book

I had just listened to Wayfaring Stranger and really enjoyed that book. However, this was vastly different:

Narration:
I'm a big fan of Will Patton as narrator on all other books I've listened to with him. But there are two characters (out of many) that were really hard to listen to and one of them is a main character in 2nd half. I couldn't even follow the story, I was so distracted by the indistinct accent and embarrassing drama of this one character. Whoever directed WP to perform this way should find another line of work.

Brutality:
I wish books were rated like movies - this would be an R due to excessive violence and torture. It looks like previous hackberry books were also like this, and that's why I avoided them. I thought this book may be more like Wayfaring Stranger.

Characters acting oddly:
And I'm compelled to add that too often characters would attack someone (maybe rightly) but it would be so inadequate that, of course, they would be overcome by the other side. Ie, would you calmly punch one bad guy while the other one was holding a gun to you? Too much of this.

29 people found this helpful

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Stopped Listening!

The hero of this story is filled with self-loathing, a stone cold killer and an animal abuser, who seems to be drunk or nauseous most of the time. I could not finish it to see if he was ever redeemed, but I stopped caring. The writing is even more florid than previous novels by Burke.

10 people found this helpful

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Written From His Heart

Where does House of the Rising Sun rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

House of the Rising Sun ranks in the top 10 among all the audiobooks I've listened to. I listen to at least 2 audiobooks each month as I hand stitch embroidery or quilts. .

What other book might you compare House of the Rising Sun to and why?

I feel it could only be compared to another unabridged James Lee Burke book. Mr. Burke is a true wordsmith, painting pictures I feel you just don't get with other authors. You can not only visualize the scenery but at times you'll smell the atmosphere when he describes it. I've never had that experience with another author.

What does Will Patton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

It was suggested to me by another fan that in order to fully experience the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke I needed to listen to Will Patton narrate them.

He was correct: Wow: I'm originally from the south and it was like going home again. Mr. Patton's southern accent is perfect. I was an instant fan. I've ever written to authors and suggested that Mr. Patton would be the perfect narrator for their series.

As I've listened to him read other books, and especially this 'Hackberry Holland' series, I've come to realize that he brings a depth and understanding to the words that Mr. Burke puts on paper that other narrators sometimes miss. He becomes the conduit for the words, but you're the one who is the part of the story, and what is going on. You hear him, but he's not intrusive, he doesn't take away from the story. He never breaks your immersion into the story.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely, it entices you with the settings, the historical events and the characters. I can almost bet you'll listen more than once because its so enjoyable, and you get so caught up in parts of it that you're still processing a scene when something else happens and is almost over before you're aware of it. I learned to hit the pause button to absorb scenes before moving onto something else.

Any additional comments?

There are a lot of interviews with Mr. Burke about this book and how much of it is fiction and how much is part of his actual life or lives of his ancestors. I found it helpful to read those interviews. I liked knowing which scenes were family history and found it added a lot to the story as I listened. I love history, and perhaps that is why I enjoyed this part of of the book so much.

1 person found this helpful

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Hackberry Holland Strikes Out

This is the third book in the Hackberry Holland series, and the last I'll even attempt to read. Burke's Robicheaux books are favorites, and I've read them all. That's why I started his Holland series. Sadly, Holland doesn't hold a candle to its predecessors.

The character is at once kind, generous, loving, violent, bigoted, irrational, and perhaps even bipolar. The qualities don't coalesce into a believable character. In one scene he saves an elderly black woman from the wrongdoing of his neighbor while he almost kills the man by stomping on him. He's married at least seven times but seems at the mercy at of his male member, lusting after the wife he's trying to divorce so he can marry Ishmael's mother.

He's also fond of preaching on a variety of subjects, which I suspect is a vehicle for Burke's own views. It just doesn't fit the character.

Narrator Will Patton is the voice of Dave Robicheaux, but not Hackberry Holland. His breathy delivery is annoying.

I stopped listening about half way though, and could care less how the book ends. I'm going to return it too.

What this says about James Lee Burke, I'm not sure. Has he run out of gas? I hope not, but these books are an embarrassment to him.

3 people found this helpful

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Don't say masterpiece unless you really mean it

I think this may be Jim Burke's greatest novel. Every element of this recorded book is superb. The characterization, dialogue, plot. Not nearly as over-the-top as some previous works. More poetic than anything I've read of his, and I've read them all. Truly epic. I may have to read it again.

1 person found this helpful

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Hackberry Holland the First

Here is a Western in the last hurrah of the age of the cowboys. The history of the US and Mexico in the first 3 decades of the 20th century has been reduced to mere footnotes. Burke reminds us how rough and cheap life was in that time, especially in the first Great War through the adventures of Hackberry Holland.

Holland is a former Texas Ranger and local law man with a history of violence and a blinding temper. He stands 6 and 1/2 feet tall. His past exploits include the severe beating and arrest of the famous outlaw and killer, John Wesley Harden.

The story is set in Mexico and Texas just after the end of World War 1 and the American conflict with Pancho Villa. (The Mexican government was Communist at that time and actually outlawed and persecuted the Catholic Church. Many thousands were murdered. Priests were forced to marry or be killed. Churches were converted to warehouses and such.)

Hackberry has been married numerous times in numerous ways and his last and current wife is the perfect la femme fatale. She weaves in and out of his life, as well outlaw history, but always leaving a trail of disater behind her. Along the way Hackberry fathered a bastard son from a woman he truly loved. This son grew up to become a war hero in the Great war. Without spoiling the story, the relationship of father and son is tested beyond the pale by Hackberry 's evil bride.

The plot includes fantastic, old west gun and knife fights to please any true cowboy fan.

Will Patton is absolutely the best narrator forthis novel. At first his accents, particularly that of a sadistic German arms dealer, seemed wierd and overblown. However, the longer I listened the more emotionally invested I found myself.

7 people found this helpful

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Fiction and history and great writing and reading

I am so glad to see Burke is back with a great story with a lot less editorializing, the story is a great blend of characters, with redeeming qualities, but the tainted side still shines through. Great violence, sense of family obligation, and raw emotion catapults this book right to the top of the stack.
I for one am looking to the next book in the series read by the master...Will Patton

9 people found this helpful

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JLB does it again and Will Patton is amazing.

The wait was worth it!! James Lee Burke and Will Patton where made for each other. Their collaboration as always is wonderful and very thankful for the little gift at the end. Congratulations to both author and narrator!!

16 people found this helpful

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Superman...Not

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Readers that just love James Lee Burke no matter what trash he put out.

Would you ever listen to anything by James Lee Burke again?

NO, I've read several of his previous books because I'm from Louisiana. But each one gets worse and worse. So I am through with him. Please don't put him on my recommendation list.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Will Patton?

NA

What character would you cut from House of the Rising Sun?

The primary character

Any additional comments?

The story wandered all over the place including the timeline. It was also too unbelievable.At age 55, I felt that this book was a waste of hours of my life that I can never retrieve. Therefore I stopped listening 2/3 of the way through without caring what happened.

4 people found this helpful