Sunday, July 05, 2009
There’s No Pleasing Me
Sometimes I guess there’s no pleasing me. Back earlier in the year I posted about gratuitous violence and singled out the Edge Western Series for criticism. I also criticized the main character of the series, Edge himself, as a unrepentant sociopath. That post was “How Much Violence is Too Much?”.
Now let it be known, I do think the author, George G. Gilman (Terry Harknet), is a decent writer. The stories had a strong narrative drive and there were some pretty funny moments of black humor. But in general, I was just bothered by the unnecessary violence, and I found out later that at least some of this violence was included at the behest of the publisher and was not Gilman’s idea.
So then a friend told me that Gilman had written some later books in the series, long after the original run of the books had come to a close, that featured an older and less violent Edge. He pointed me to a website where I could download six of these as ebooks. I did so, and just finished the first one, called The Quiet Gun, on my Kindle. The verdict is: “I didn’t really like it.”
That’s where the title of my post comes from. I wanted Edge less violent and less sociopathic! Well, I got that in spades, and more. By age fifty, it appears that Edge has turned from a complete sociopath to a generally mild mannered fellow bent at all costs on staying on the right side of the law. He doesn’t even wear his gun anymore—he carries it in a carpetbag—and he’s dressed more like a “dude” than a gunslinger. He was trying to buy a wagon to get into the freight business, and didn’t even like to ride a horse anymore. In the first part of the book, he walked everywhere. It definitely felt like an alternate universe Edge. In fact, if I’d met the character in this book for the first time I would have thought he was something of a wimp.
As the book continued, Edge toughened up again and began to show flashes of the old Edge. He never, however, returned to the complete disregard for human life and decency that he’d shown in the early books of the original series. By the end, he’d become something of a gunslinger again but with apparent respect for the law and with some internal integrity. That was more in line with the kind of character I was looking for, but I was still reeling from the early story of the “meek shall inherit the earth” Edge. I guess there’s no pleasing me.
If you’d like to download the ebooks of the Older Edge series, the link is here.
And for a different view from someone who really liked the Edge series, the writer R. J. Dent, here’s another link.
As with anything, don’t just blindly accept my opinion on these books. If you’re curious, follow-up yourself. Your reading experience may vary!