A pissed-off warlock with a taste for revenge.
An army of sand-golems with fistfuls of magic.
A wishing well with a mind of its own.
No wonder Blackpeak, Texas never got its spot on the map.
Town marshal Elias Faust thinks that he can make any problem go away if he throws enough lead at it. The living’s easy for a lawman. Bloody, but easy – that is, until Magnate Gregdon arrives with his undead syndicate to tear the town of Blackpeak, Texas apart.
When a shootout with a pair of outlaws goes sideways, Elias Faust accidentally draws the Magnate’s attention. As if dealing with arcane sorcery, reanimated corpses, and the Magnate’s personal vendetta aren’t enough, Faust finds himself at the center of a power-struggle for Blackpeak’s eldritch secrets.
Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot more complicated.
Hunted by a cadre of sandshades and hounded by sinister spellcraft, Elias Faust may be the only bag of skin defiant enough to keep Blackpeak from being destroyed. To outlast the Magnate’s disciples, he’ll need to shoot straighter, run faster, and live longer…even if it means sacrificing a part of himself to do just that.
His Ragged Company is a wild ride into the old west, with a twist of magic, a hint of horror, a splash of sci-fi, and a whole lot of weird-ass goings on besides.
I was very lucky to receive a copy of the audio book as well as an ebook. I was able to fully immerse myself into the story. And what a story it is. Atmospheric and vivid world-building along with all the tones and feel of the old west. The author’s superb grasp of the vernacular and the performance from the audio book’s narrator, John Pirhalla, transported me ‘ass over tea-kettle’ into Blackpeak and beyond. The narrator’s performance brings Rance’s brilliant writing style to life.
If I had to pick one thing that sets this book apart it would be its characters. Elias Faust is the epitome of the western lawman, but with more depth than most. His internal voice and questions on morality and consequences of his and other’s actions- the rights and wrongs of killing – makes him far more intriguing and interesting. Morally grey characters are my favourite, and this book is filled with them. The town of Blackpeak is filled with all the usual suspects – the town drunk, the barkeep, the whore, the doctor, the mayor, the outlaws, and all the other colourful and disparate folk you’d expect to see in a western. Each one is well envisioned and unique enough to be different from the clichéd characters we are used to seeing in the western genre.
This book would have been great purely as a western. But what makes it an absolutely fun and fantastic read is all the weird shit. And when I say ‘weird shit’, I mean WEIRD SHIT! The author manages to throw everything at Faust, from the supernatural, to eldritch horrors, along with some fantasy and sci-fi elements too. There’s a slow build to the ominous foreboding, lurking under Blackpeak, threaded throughout the first half of the book. Then wham! All hell breaks loose, and the weird just gets weirder. Faust’s reaction to everything that develops is brilliant. We go along with him, reluctantly at first, down the rabbit hole of mayhem and weird that ensues. The final third of the book is relentless and manic. Some aspects of the magic and latter events did leave me with some questions, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of what was a truly grand finale. And that final scene: what the actual… I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.
His Ragged Company is an authentic, gritty western. The violence is superbly balanced by the moral questions posed by and to its characters. The author also manages to tackle some serious moral questions, including racism and the consequences of taking a life. I really appreciated these philosophical and metaphysical moments, particularly on death and existence. All of this, combined with the weird west fantasy elements make this a book that deserves your attention.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review on this book tour.
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