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Publisher's Summary

Bandit, murderer, known to all, seen by none...has he killed a thousand men? Has he saved a dozen worlds? His legend is as large as the Rim itself, his trail as elusive as a wisp of starlight in the empty realms of space. The reward for him is the largest in history.
©1992 Mike Resnick (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Cheesy but fun

Santiago is the pulpy science fiction equivalent of an Wild West manhunt with spaceships taking the part of horses, laser pistols standing in for six shooters, and aliens playing the role of the Indians (in one instance, quite literally). At times, Santiago is just plain bad, but it can also be a lot of fun, sometimes surprisingly so. Perhaps one of Resnick's most clever creations is Black Orpheus, a space-bound incarnation of the ancient Greek ballad singer who incorporates all of *Santiago*'s zany characters into a song about the frontier, portions of which are shared with the reader at the beginning of each chapter. Through Black Orpheus, it is easy to grow fond of the universe Resnick has created for us. Despite its setting, there really isn't much sci-fi here: Resnick provides very little description, choosing instead to allow the dialogue and a bit of expository third-person omniscient narrative to do the work.

With nicknames like the Jolly Swagman, Man Mountain Bates, and Poor Yorick, all of Santiago's characters are larger-than-life caricatures encountered by the bounty-hunter protagonist, Sebastian Cain, as he hunts the notorious outlaw known as Santiago. Sadly, the circus of fun characters is weighed down by bad dialogue, most of which consists of bada-bing! one-liners and poorly placed expository quips. Even so, the characters really carry the story along, and they must because there isn't much of a plot to speak of.

The tale of the manhunt is poorly told, with the first half of the novel following a tiresome meet-and-greet formula: (1) we read some narrative about a wacky character; (2) Cain meets this character and attempts to extract information from him; (4) the main character is referred to another wacky character, at which point we return to step one. This tedious process is repeated about six or seven times before the mode changes.

The narrator, Rueben Diaz, has a great voice and he lends some of the characters a very distinctive personality. Unfortunately, he also struggles with the dialogue. His tone and inflection are sometimes terrible, often sounding as if an unnecessary question mark had been placed at the end of the sentence? Diaz has the potential to be an excellent narrator, but this is certainly not his best performance.

Overall, Santiago will have you laughing one moment and rolling your eyes the next. Its juvenile dialogue and poor plotting often makes it feel like a Young Adult novel but, even with its faults, it is a light, fun read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Epic Space Western

This epic space western hearkens back to the tropes of classic westerns, transposed onto distant worlds. Sometimes tongue in cheek, sometimes grimly serious, the tropes seduce you in; but it’s the characters who keep you reading. And when the secret of Santiago’s empire is revealed, it becomes a very different book, with stakes that matter.

I foresaw the ending a couple chapters before it came. That usually spoils a book for me; but the author carried it off so well that I still choked up when I got to it.

I had one minor technical quibble with the performance. The narrator uses accents to distinguish many of the characters, a common enough technique; but halfway through the book, the author notes that one character is unusual because he HAS an accent. Communications have become so homogenized that accents are rare. And ironically, the narrator did NOT give THAT character any noticeable accent. This didn’t detract from the performance, but it did make me laugh.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful and intriguing...

While I'm by no means a literary critic, I nonetheless found the book apart from many other titles, chiefly in the author's ability to construct character narratives that were both intriguing and colorful. The story itself was capable of jumping between characters and settings while maintaining a careful balance of depth and variety. The title kept me coming back for more; always interested to know what would happen next.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story but issues with the performance.

The entire prologue is missing (I have it in both the Swedish and English print edition) and there are issues with how the book is read such as using the wrong words as certain places and once and entire sentence was repeated.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Marvelous Tale!!

This story grabbed me right off the bat! The characters are all SO VIBRANT, and the action flows quite smoothly. It's the wild west and larger-than-life legendary heroes transported to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. IOW, it's a LOT of FUN!