Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gunman's Reckoning, Max Brand

Max Brand was, in the 20th century, one of the most prolific writers. Well, Max Brand is in fact the Gunman's Reckoning is available freely at Gutenberg.org. I believe there is also a free version on Amazon. However, it's blocked from those living in Canada while the one at Gutenberg is not.
pseudonym of Frederick Schiller Faust. He wrote hundreds of novels. Such a work ethic is something I admire in a writer. This is the second book of his that I've read, and there are several things to be said.

This is the third most popular book on Gutenberg by Max Brand. That said, let's get onto some parts of the novel.

The novel starts off really well. We follow the perspective of an outlaw who had had unfortunate luck because of a certain man by the name of Donnegan. He attributes his problems to the man and sets out to kill him in his sleep. However, his luck fails him, and Donnegan very nearly kills him. However, he's preserved long enough to learn that Donnegan wasn't after him at all. But, there's where the most interesting part of the story ends. That is to say, I found the character of the outlaw to be more interesting than Donnegan.

I am not particularly fond of the super human human type character. I enjoy the super human characters like Spiderman and such. And, to an extent I enjoy Tarzan and other Burroughs' characters. But I don't enjoy them as much as flawed characters.

In any case, there are a few undesirable or politically incorrect things to note about Gunman's Reckoning. First off, we have a black man, named George, who becomes the slave of Donnegan. He loves his master, sacrifices his life for him, and all with very little remorse in the tone of the author. The second thing is the relative inferiority of the female characters. For instance, Brand writes that 'For every lovely girl, no matter how cool-headed, has a foolish belief in the power of her beauty.' Another part, from the mouth of her uncle, "Man talk confuses a girl, Lou. You shouldn't listen to it." and finally, 'He had never seen such perfect self-command in a woman.' Over and over, we see that women are inferior to the man. They are to be fought over, adored, perhaps (grudgingly so) respected, but more often than not, little more than someone worth something as long as the face is pretty.

This book is filled with long drawn out drama. I'm not sure how I feel about that, either. It was
difficult for me to wade through. But, having already committed myself so far into the book, and the book being a fairly brief one, I finished it anyways.

Donnegan randomly goes to a house after his meeting with Lefty, the man who had tried to kill him, and runs into the love of his life. Her uncle is in control of her, and is an evil force to be reckoned with. But to win his girl, he plays the puppet for the uncle. He goes to the main setting referred to as "The Corner." It's a gold mining town, and the colonel/uncle wants possession of it.

There's a man called Lord Nick, who is in control of the mine's owner and the mine itself. He is huge and feared. He's also the long lost brother of Donnegan. However, Donnegan's mischief in trying to manipulate the town has brought Lord Nick's love of gold and a girl between family. Ultimately there's a gun fight, which Nick wins (Donnegan's weapon was empty), but does not kill Donnegan but just his poor manservant, George. When all comes out about whom Donnegan was in love with, and that he indeed was never intending to get between Nick and Nick's love interest, they make good and become a big happy family.

I wish I could say I really enjoyed the book, but that enjoyment was mostly confined to the first few chapters.