Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Read as of Late

The Haunted Mesa, by Louis L'Amour

This is one of my three to five favorite L'Amour's. It has been quite some time since I gave it a read. Long enough that a whole lot more hits home now.

While the nearly modern day novel is also L'Amours most speculative work (so far as I know-let me know if there is one that top's it) I believe he threw an awful lot into it that was also his own opinion about ancient mystery (and my own as well). Haunted Mesa also isn't the only novel he did that with, I recall he mentioned in To the Far Blue Mountains a character finding a Roman coin in early America-he hinted that it wasn't necessarily from a Roman but at least someone who traded with them. And again in Haunted Mesa, while it has discussions on dimensions and such, there was a lot about the Mound Builders and what happened to their civilization? That perhaps the standard academia had missed some things.

At the top of page 180
There had been excavations at Cahokia Mound, at Hopewell, and other places, as well as speculation about the Mound Builders, but much had been ignored that did not fit the accepted theory. Too many workers in the field were inclined to ignore, as an intrusion, anything that did not fit previously conceived ideas. It was time for all such ideas to be set aside and for each bit of evidence to be examined with a completely open mind.

Anyway, so far as gripping action story and prose, L'Amour is tops-but a reread of this great novel reminded me of some of our shared thoughts and wonderment. The very same kind of stuff that Heroes of the Fallen and Blood of Our Fathers were born from.

Hellboy: Strange Places, by Mike Mignola

So Hellboy has left the B.P.R.D. and is out there trying to find himself. I admit I was worried about where this angle of the story was going-but its good. The collection is several shorter stories woven together and I greatly enjoyed them all especially The Third Wish, a tale dedicated to Hans Christian Anderson-complete with a dreadful sea witch the Bog Roosh. The art is as always surreal and perfect for what it is-I don't know if anyone else could pull off so much shadow and feel like they are giving us so much detail. Excellent book overall.

B.P.R.D. Hollow earth & Other Stories by Mike Mignola and others

Now this is what was happening with the rest of the team since Hellboy quit. We get the introduction of Johann Kraus (he is in Hellboy 2 Golden Army). Now Liz Sherman has also been missing for some time and the team discovers that she is in peril in Tibet-action ensues. Malevolent beings from deep within the earth are about to do something bad and its up to the team -to work as a team and make things right-its actually a better story than I just made it sound, but you know...

Hawks of Outremer, by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Michael Alan Nelson and Damian Couceiro

The covers by Joe Jusko are fantastic. The interior art is good, not the best but certainly better than some of the old Marvel Conan's. We are in 1190 A.D. and our protag is Cormac Fitzgeoffrey, arguably the most Conan-like of all REH's other characters. He is in the Holy Land during the third crusade and he is out for revenge.

It's been awhile since I read REH's actual prose of Hawks, but I wasn't seeing any gratuitous over zealousness with fixing a story that ain't broke (see the Conan movie later this year for instance).

Hawks is a pretty straightforward historical action piece about revenge but because it is REH, it always does you one better. I love the appearance of Saladin at the end (and I love that they made him look like Ghassan Massoud as Saladin in the film Kingdom of Heaven, Massoud's portrayal was one of my favorite things about the film.)

Mark Finn did a great afterword too.
I anxiously await BOOM Studio's doing another Cormac Fitzgeoffery tale. Fingers (and swords) crossed for The Blood of Belshazzar and after that how about Shadow of the Vulture too!


Lagomorph Rex said...

I really want them to adapt the Talisman as sort of a middle chapter to go between Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood.

Have Massooud back as Saladin and get Danny Huston to come back as Richard..

David J. West said...

Lagomorph-I still need to read the Talisman-and are you talking about Scott's or King & Straub's-either way I'm behind.

Lagomorph Rex said...


King & Straubs is .. a fantasy .. but has nothing to do with Richard and Salahadin..

Walter Scott wrote two short novels (by his standards) that are both set during the 3rd crusade. The Talisman I believe involves Richard and Salahadin sneaking to each others respective camps in order to play chess.

And the Betrothed is about a soldier from England or Wales maybe who is anxious to return home to his betrothed.. I sort of figured if they do a movie version they should combine the two. Get the romance and battle angle and the power politics angle.. and it would be a great middle chapter to put between Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood..

Seems odd that Scott has adapted Richard Going to the Crusades, and Richard dieing in France.. but not of Richard actually On Crusade.

Charles Gramlich said...

That's interesing. I'm not really a big fan of The Haunted Mesa. Maybe it's because it's generally quite different than most of what I've read and loved by L'Amour. I know several other folks who really like it though.

David J. West said...

Lagomorph-having not read either one I wasn't sure. I need to read more of Scott-all I have has been Ivanhoe.

Charles-its one of my favorites along with, Walking Drum, Last of teh Breed, Flint, Mustang Man, Sackett's Land and I better just stop now...

Lagomorph Rex said...

I'd heard that there was a rumoured and unpublished sequel to The Walking Drum..

But I've never been able to find out anything. Bit of a shame that it's never seen the light of day if its true.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Great review and pics! I hope your book is coming along okay. ;)

Take care.

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

David J. West said...

Lagomorph-that would be the great lost find if it indeed existed. I suspect it doesn't. To the best of my flawed understanding, I hear he never got around to the sequels and instead was working on more Sackett stuff (which is all well and good) but I sure would have preferred Kerbouchard.

Thanks Elizabeth-it is.

Rick said...

I love L'Amour but have never read "The Haunted Mesa," so thanks for the heads up. I'll definitely read it. My favorite book of his is non-fiction, titled "The Education of A Wandering Man."

You really put on a great blog here, David!

David J. West said...

Thanks a lot Rick-I appreciate it. I have Education of a Wandering Man and have been meaning to read it for years-I'd better move it a little closer to the top of the TBR pile.