book review: the sixth gun (vol. 1 & 2)

My librarian friend Jamie picked up the first two volumes of The Sixth Gun on a whim recently and recommended I read them. Very glad I did. They’re set just after the American Civil War and the titular guns are basically forged in hell demon weapons that are bound to their wielders.

In Cold Dead Fingers we meet Drake, our badass antihero who’s been hired to look for the guns. The last owner of one of them (the one that let the wielder see the future) had been killed and hidden on sacred ground, but his old posse (with guns that spout hellfire, or plague, or grant eternal youth, or summon golem armies from the people they kill) kill all the priests and dig him out. The future-glimpsing gun gets bonded to the daughter of a preacher who’d been hiding it. Lots of crazy action happens, culminating in Drake being bound to the other four guns.

The second volume, Crossroads, has Drake down in the swamplands looking for information about the guns and what to do with them. There we discover what a magnet for trouble weapons forged by the devil are and how vodoun spirits would also like to get their (metaphorical) hands on such things. More crazy action happens.

These books have an excellent melding of crazy action, magickal weirdness and characters you care about. Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt (both of which do sound like fake names) are telling a pulpy tale that’s worth following, especially if you’re a fan of the Weird West (and stuff like Deadlands) like I am.

book review: on stranger tides

Tim Powers is one of those writers whose work I know I like, but don’t binge-read. I don’t know why. But I found a cheap copy of On Stranger Tides in a used bookstore and was happy to pick it up. It’s a story about vodoun and pirates in the waning days of the age of piracy in the Caribbean. Jack Chandagnac is a bookkeeper who is heading to Jamaica to confront his uncle (who stole his father’s fortune). He meets a young woman on the ship and then they’re attacked by pirates.

Events happen.

Jack becomes a magic-wielding pirate trying to save his true love from having her soul ripped out and replaced with the soul of her dead mother by her one-armed father who incidentally needs to head over to the fountain of youth.

It’s kind of awesome. If you like two out of pirates, adventure, vodoun, you should definitely take a look.

You might recognize the title from the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. As I understand it they borrowed enough elements of the plot from this book it was easier to pay Tim Powers rather than risk weird infringement lawsuits, and they aren’t that similar. Basically I’m saying if you saw that movie and thought it was dumb, I’m more than positive the book is better. And for the love of spaghetti don’t read the novelization of the movie thinking it’s this (I don’t know if such a thing exists and definitely don’t want to link to it if it does).