Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review: Hunt At the Well of Eternity

They say "you can't judge a book by its cover." But in the case of Hunt at the Well of Eternity, by James Reasoner, what you see is what you get: A babes & bad guys B-movie, in book form.

(And yes, the heroine was wearing a red bra while crossing the rope bridge. Her blouse though, was only ripped, not torn off completely as depicted in the picture. I guess the artist Glen Orbik, decided to exercise some artistic licensing for the book cover).

One reviewer on called this tribute to the pulp fiction genre of the '30s and '40s, a "beach read for guys!" Seven others felt the same way and gave this book a 5-star rating, while six readers considered it a 4-star novel. However, not everyone was happy with this modern-day pulp novel, which received 2x3-stars, 2x2-stars and 1x1-star from other readers:

Charles Ardai, editor of Hard Case Crime books, created Leisure Books to chronicle the exploits of Gabriel Hunt, a 21st Century Indiana Jones. So far, a total of six books are planned, with several authors contributing their voice to the life & times of Gabriel Hunt. James Reasoner is the first author to join the "hunt for adventure" club:

Initially, I wasn't impressed with the first several pages Well of Eternity and would have concurred with the 1 and 2-star raters on Amazon. I found the characters, especially the evil mastermind, to be shallow caricatures; while the dialogue seemed awkward and the story loaded with cliches.

However, despite these shortcomings, James Reasoner, the author of more than 200 books, maintained a blistering pace throughout the adventure:

Snippets of Gabriel's backstory were deftly sprinkled throughout the narrative--along with an unsolved mystery haunting Gabriel and his brother Michael--while the "what-is-the-mastermind-after" exposition occured at a natural point in the story. Since it only took 8 pages to clarify the mystery, the remaining 218 pages of the book were chock-full of non-stop, two-fisted, guns blazing, action. (How's that for cliche?).

This book was a quick, easy and enjoyable read that deserves at least a 3.5-star rating.

As an aspiring writer myself, I have a personal bias for liking this book: It's the kind of story I'd like to write! The gaming articles I've penned so far contain the same (or worse), literary gaffes than the 1 & 2-star raters on Amazon gave this book.

And speaking of games, the resurgence of pulp fiction hasn't been limited to the passive art of reading either. "Pulp Gaming" has been gaining popularity among my fellow wargamers for some time now. Instead of commanding vast armies, players lead bands of heroes (or cuthroats), against the minions of an evil mastermind and attempt to thwart his diabolical plans. For some, like "Dr. Merkury," pulp gaming is their primary passion:

(A link to the "Doctor's Lab" can also be found under the Wargaming Blogs Section).

So whether you're gaming it, or reading it, pulp fiction can provide hours--or a lifetime--of great fun.

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