Things I Like–Haxan

FoxSince I’m not putting up a section of Power’s Shadow today, I thought I’d add a little to the very occasional “Things I Like” motif. Which in this case, to be fair, is oversimplifying things just a tad. I’m going to talk a little bit about a novel titled Quaternity, by Kenneth Mark Hoover. It’s due out from CZP/HarperCollins on March 31st.

Full disclosure—Mark’s an old friend. We were in a writing group together for several years and I got to watch him grow as a writer first hand. He’s a versatile guy and I knew him first for his science fiction, but he really started to hit his stride when he turned his attention to the Weird Western, specifically a character named John Marwood, a U.S. Marshall based in the town of Haxan, New Mexico Territory. Marwood isn’t your ordinary lawman. He may not even be completely human, as we understand the term. He’s also a lot older than he looks and—to be blunt about it—he’s a stone cold killer. He has to be.

Also full disclosure—Mark’s Haxan stories are not the kind of thing I normally like. In general they’re graphic, brutal, and bloody, yet they always pull me in and keep me reading, and the story is always about more, is more than what happens in it, which to me is the definition of a good story. Mark knows what he’s doing, and it shows. The reader is always in good hands, even though parts of the journey are likely to get a skosh hairy.

Quaternity is the account of what John Marwood was doing just before he becomes a marshall, riding with a band of murderers led by a madman named Captain Botis, who is another like Marwood himself—possibly immortal, perhaps fully human once, a very long time ago. Or maybe not. Also like Marwood in search of something beyond himself, something represented by an ethereal city that can only now and then be glimpsed and that may or may not really exist.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has published a couple of the Haxan stories here, and this would be a good way to get the flavour of them for those unfamiliar with the series. There’s also a link to Mark’s web site above. Any fans of the Weird Western or just something outside the normal run of the mill fantasy would be doing themselves a favour to check it out.

Since I went first, I now declare that it’s your turn. I am forever behind on my reading and would like to get caught up—to the extent that’s possible–if time ever permits. So what have you read lately you really liked? Something that opened your eyes a bit, reminded you of why you liked reading in the first place? Talk about it in the comments below. Point me toward some good stuff. I’d appreciate it.



7 thoughts on “Things I Like–Haxan

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing what people recommend, since I don’t have much to recommend. I’ve read a fair number of books lately, mostly SF/F, and my reactions have mostly ranged from “meh” to “bleah.” A few I haven’t even bothered to finish, which is unusual for me. Probably the best things I’ve read lately have been books by Martha Wells (the Raksura books and “The Death of the Necromancer”), although the Raksura books got a bit soap-opera-ish at times. The Peter Grant/”Rivers of London” books by Ben Aaronovitch are good light reading if you like the supernatural-cops-in-modern-London sub(sub)genre. 🙂

    • Likewise, it used to be rare for me to abandon a book once I’d started, but as time goes on it gets easier when I think about how precious a commodity time is. Something I try to keep in mind in my own work and put myself in the reader’s shoes.

      • Yeah, reading time, like free time in general, is pretty limited. But your books are free of the things that tend to make me drop a book early — pointless brutality (torture, mass murder, etc., etc.) just to ramp up the drama for the desensitized; tiresome adolescent wish-fulfillment and/or dealing poorly with female characters; or signs that the copy-editing stage was skipped entirely. 😛

        The funny thing is, a lot of my pet peeves show up in books that I’ve bought because so many people raved about how great they were. I probably need to learn to read reviews more carefully. 😛

  2. The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity by James C. Cobb (1992), Oxford UP.

    I read it first when it came out. But I knew nothing then!* So this re-read is as if I’d never read it at all. For example, I know what the Delta is (and it is not the mouth of the Mississippi River, which I didn’t know back in 1992 until I read this book). But even though I had read this book I didn’t comprehend the Natchez Trace or Vicksburg until this year. Which is why re-reading this book is such a rich experience, which also makes me happy. 🙂

    Love, c.

    * If I allowed, I could get depressed thinking about how in another 7 years I’m going to look at materials I believe now I comprehend well and see how I knew nothing in 2015 either.

    • I felt that way for a while when I realized that I knew almost nothing about the Blues. It’s probably not fair that we are only embarrassed by our own ignorance after it’s gone, and never while we still suffer from it, which is the proper time to be embarrassed. Life’s weird like that.

      On Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 2:02 PM, Richard Parks wrote:


  3. Thanks Sinclair. I’ve heard of Scalzi, naturally, and Weeks as well, though I haven’t read either of them yet. I’ve been to Williamsburg/Jamestown before, likewise. Interesting place.

    – Owain

  4. Have you tried anything by John Scalzi? I first came across him when I picked up a book called ‘Old Man’s War’ – which turned into a few others in that ‘universe’, some told from perspectives of different characters. In truth, I did not find them all equal (No real surprise as even two stories can be ranked). I am currently reading ‘The Android’s Dream’ by Scalzi, and find it very amusing and well written. Faith liked it. I just finished a book called ‘Unbroken’, which is good but disturbing in many ways. (Really). It is a fact based account of a world class runner and his experiences in WWII as a Japanese POW – and his life after as well. I knew a couple of people who were German POW’s – Faith’s father was a Japanese POW, and I know experienced many horrible things. (I spent some time with him after he was diagnosed with cancer). And, if you have not ready anything by Brent Weeks, I suggest you do so. There is an interesting storyline of an assassin, and one graphic novel was made from it called ‘The Way of Shadows’. I have not read it – I do like the artwork and plan to. Faith and I went to Williamsburg, VA at Thanksgiving for a week and looked around the area (Jamestown, Yorktown battle site, etc) and we liked it so much we will probably go back there in September for a professional bike race. (Richmond is hellishly hilly, really steep – some of them are 15-20 percent. I could live in that area quite easily, I think. And from that, I have a renewed interest in early U.S. history – recently read ‘George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager. Its good, fills in some things I did not know.

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