Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Fistful of Legends: Special Pre-Pub Offer!

Right now, until January 11, you can get FISTFUL OF LEGENDS WITH NO CHARGE FOR SHIPPING. And you can get it NOW before it's even released -- perfect for a Christmas gift. Go to Dave Lewis' blog for the details. AND you can get its sister anthology, WHERE LEGENDS RIDE, as part of a package deal.

To get the info, click here. And tell'em Duane sent ya.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Fistful of Legends

Pal and writer of westerns Ian Parnham has posted some info at this blog, "The Culbin Trail," about a new anthology of western stories, A Fistful of Legends. It sports a cover painting that's nicely reminiscent of the cover paintings one used to see on the novels by the Piccadilly Cowboys -- the Edge series, the Steele series, the Undertaker series, Jubal Cade, and many others.

This anthology is the second released by the group of western writers who work together under a sort of umbrella imprint, Express Westerns. Many of these folks write western novels published by the British publisher Robert Hale Books under its Black Horse Western imprint.

I had a story in the first Express Westerns anthology, Where Legends Ride, and enjoyed the experience immensely. That first collection still is available at this URL:

Meanwhile, check out Ian's nice preview of A Fistful of Legends at this URL:


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For the Brand

For the Brand, a Ralph Compton novel by David Robbins

First, a disclaimer: I’ve never read a Ralph Compton novel written by Ralph Compton.

Apparently I’m in the minority among western readers, because Signet Books wouldn’t continue to publish novels by other writers under Compton’s name unless people were buying them. It’s similar to the Robert Ludlum novels featuring Jason Bourne that Eric Van Lustbader is writing -- the Bourne film series has made the property valuable, so the publishers continue to pay writers to produce new novels about the character. Ian Fleming’s James Bond has experienced the same treatment.

Compton’s situation is a bit different, because from what I can tell, none (or maybe only a few) of the non-Compton novels feature characters created by Compton. But they all feature characters of the type that Compton wrote about: cowboys, drovers, ranch hands.

Actually, I think the non-Compton-penned Compton novels now outnumber the original Compton-authored books.

I’m curious how this all came about, because usually publishers want characters to continue to appear in new adventures, like Sherlock Holmes and the aforementioned Bourne and Bond. But in this case, Signet is selling Compton’s name as a brand.

It also seems curious to me that Bantam hasn’t done something similar with Louis L’Amour. Certainly L’Amour created plenty of characters who could be used in new stories. Certainly that was done for a number of Zane Grey’s characters for novelettes in Zane Grey Western Magazine. But perhaps the L’Amour estate is opposed to the notion, or perhaps L’Amour was simply so prolific and sells well enough without other hands touching his characters that Bantam has no need for new L’Amour novels written by (fill in the blank).

That preamble aside, let me say that I quite enjoyed this novel by David Robbins. Robbins has proven over and again his ability to portray convincing, enjoyable characters and believable action plots in frontier settings with his Wilderness series and other novels. This tale about a busted-up bronc buster, Willis Landers, and his awakening to the joys of living is well told. Robbins knows how to pace a story and people it with entertaining characters -- persnickety cowboys, hen-pecked ranch owners, stalwart lawmen, evil villains, and interesting women.

There are passages in For the Brand that seemed well-suited for translation to film or to a mini-series, like Lonesome Dove. The rivalries and loyalty of the drovers in For the Brand reminded me at times of McMurtry’s depiction of characters on the well-known trail drive. Robbins’ writing is convincing and sincere. Many times, that’s the best you can get from a western novel. Robbins delivers in For the Brand. Even if Compton got top billing.