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Friday, 19 December 2008


SIGNET Originally published 1995

Nathan Stone returns to his home after the Civil War only to find the place ransacked and his entire family killed. Only the one time negro slave Malachi remains and he tells Nathan of the men who rode in and killed his father and raped his mother and sister.

This sets Nathan off on a vengeance trail.

This book is a lot larger than the standard western novel, clocking in at almost five hundred pages and, as expected, there are a lot of sub plots running alongside the main thread in order to paint the action and adventure across such a large canvas. Nathan Stone meets up with many real life historical figures in his journey to become the West's ultimate gunfighter and although these sections are nothing to do with the main plot and would work as self contained short stories, they do serve to develop the character of Nathan Stone into the West's most deadly gunfighter.

The plot is very event driven and often seems like a series of climaxes, one after the other, but stacked skilfully. I remained glued to each and every page and enjoyed the story as Nathan came across Jessie James, Judge Bean and John Wesley Hardin.

"Nathan Stone had no illusions about what lay ahead.One who gained a reputation with a fast gun had only one means of escape, and that's when he faced a man with a faster gun. To finish what destiny had started. Nathan rode on towards the killing season."

he book does everything a western should - thrills, laughs, horror, romance are all ingredients used in the mix. There are points where it seems that too much is happening and the story could have been tighter if a few thousand words had been edited out but the story holds together well and shows why the Ralph Compton name is so well respected in the western genre. Since the author's death in 1998 the author's legacy has been continued by other writers.


Scott Parker said...

You mention 'horror' in your review. When that word is used, most people think of supernatural monsters and such. What kinds of horror are in this story? BTW, any story that has fictional characters interact with historical figures is something I love...and write. Thanks for the review.

David Cranmer said...

I see Compton's books everywhere these days. Another author who's death didn't stop his career.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Gary. I'm going to take next week off for the holidays but I'll be back on January 2nd. Have a great holiday.

Barrie said...

I might check this out. I'd like to read something that's very plot driven.

Charles Gramlich said...

Although the plot of this one has certainly been done before, it's a plot I find interesting if handled well. I wonder why it was so long, though. That's a bit offputting. I'll have to give it a look to see if I might like it.


Scott - I use the word horror to mean gut wrenching fear with no supernatural conotations at all.

Patt- enjoy the holiday period.

Everyone - have a great christmas and new year

msg said...


With or not bra,
I sincerely desire to you
In this HAPPY,I hope that your
novel Tarnished Star has lots of reprints.

Good health

Anonymous said...

msg-petey wishes you a merry christmas