- Series: Merkabah Rider
- Paperback: 316 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition (July 2, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1721011234
- ISBN-13: 978-1721011230
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Merkabah Rider: High Planes Drifter (Volume 1) Paperback – July 2, 2018
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About the Author
Edward M. Erdelac is the author of twelve novels. His fiction has appeared in some thirty anthologies and periodicals including Star Wars Insider Magazine. Born in Indiana, educated in Chicago, he resides in the Los Angeles area with his family. News, excerpts, and updates can be found at http://www.emerdelac.wordpress.com
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First up is 'Blood Libel', in which we are introduced to The Rider, and the time period his story is set in. Set in the Old West, Rider is a former member of The Sons of the Essenes, who would travel the celestial realm, witnessing the Divine. The Sons, and The Rider, have been betrayed by his former master, Adon. Now The Rider wanders endlessly through the world, seeking to bring Adon to justice. Traveling down a lonely path, shunned by all but him, he arrives at the town of Delirium Tremens, Pop. 180. The townsfolk greet his arrival with both suspicion, and downright hatred. You see, there has been a bit of trouble going on in the town, as of late. First, the young hogs of the local pig farmers begin disappearing, then the calves of the ranchers are taken. Finally, the young children of a number of the townsfolk go missing. The blame has been laid at the feet of the residents of the local Jewish settlement, and a bloodthirsty posse is preparing to burn them out. The Rider will meet an old friend, and encounter an ancient enemy from the hidden realms, and possibly manage to save a few innocent souls...
In 'The Dust Devils', The Rider stumbles upon the town Polvo Arido, straight out of a roiling windstorm. Although the town seems deserted at first, his attention is drawn by a local man hiding in the dry goods store. Scared out of his wits, the man reveals that Polvo Arido has been taken over by bandits. Unable to leave to summon help due to the storm, he chooses to confront the gang head on. The mass of banditos is bad enough, but their leader, Hector Scarchilli, is pure poison. Add in Kelly Le Malfacteur, a brujo with powers rivaling that of The Rider, and our hero is in for a very bad day. One which he might not survive...
Next up is 'Hell's Hired Gun'. Weary from crossing through the desert, The Rider stops at a Catholic mission, hoping for rest and water. Instead, he finds the entire mission brutally slaughtered, down to the last man, woman, and child. A single monk clings to life, and with his dying breath utters the name, "Gadara." After burying the dead, he sets out to find Gadara (which turns out to be a town, high in the hills), and the force behind the slaughter at the mission. Waylaid in the hills by a snowstorm in the hills, and struck down by fever, he is tended to by a preacher who has been hiding from an implacable foe. He is soon to learn the story behind the atrocity he witnessed, and be brought face to face with the perpetrator. Will The Rider be able to overcome such a demented fiend?
The concluding episode of the collection is 'The Nightjar Women'. The Rider is unerringly drawn to the town of Tip Top, where he is suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of lust. He has felt temptation before, but never like this. After The Rider discovers that the newborns of the town are hideously warped at birth, he realizes that there is an ancient evil haunting the town. Is it his former master's doing? Could Adon be lurking in the town, furthering his own singular purpose? The Rider seeks to unravel the mystery, and what he finds, is a shock even to him...
This was my second time reading Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter, and as I stated above, I was totally impressed once again. Edward has a knack for taking elements from different genres, mixing them well, and coming up with a totally original narrative. I'm a big fan of Western stories, and this is a wholly original and unique take, using the Western as a jumping off point. It takes us in truly imaginative directions, but still manages to keep the overall feel of a Western. The Rider is one of the most interesting characters I've come across, very well envisioned, and portrayed in a nuanced manner. Throughout the collection, we find out more about this mysterious man's past, and this has a distinct humanizing effect. Handled differently, the character could have easily ended up being a two-dimensional cutout. We are reminded throughout the stories that, despite the powers he wields, and the higher plane on which the battles take place, that this a thinking, feeling human being. If you look at the setting as a whole, this is present throughout. None of the mortal characters are solely good or evil, they are a mix of the two. Even the villains have a justification for acting as they do (however self-serving these reasons are). The setting is wonderfully imagined; as I read through, I was THERE. Like all the best tales, you could boil this one down to its core, strip away all the different genre trappings, and you would be left with what it is. An entirely entertaining group of stories, told by a master of the craft. I highly recommend picking up whatever edition of this entry that you can get your hands on, and diving in headfirst. It's that good. Happy reading, all!
The Blood Libel: Fate draws The Rider to Delirium Tremens, a mining town where hostility is brewing between the residents and the Jews of nearby Little Jerusalem, who've allegedly turned away from God and kidnapped the daughter of the local preacher. Can The Rider find the cause of the trouble before the Angels of Death wipe out everyone in Little Jerusalem?
The Blood Libel does a great job of introducing The Rider and his world. The Rider's continuing quest is to find his mentor and betrayer, another mystic calling himself Adon. The world building is surprisingly deep for a 70 page novella. Erdelac introduces the Sons of the Essenes, a Jewish mystical society with branches in all parts of the world, as well as revealing parts of the Rider's history.
The story itself is a nice melding of western standards and Jewish mystacism. I'm looking forward to when The Rider goes up against The Great Old Ones.
The Dust Devils: An unending dust storm grips the town of Polvo Arrido as The Rider rolls into town. Can The Rider find clues to Adon's whereabouts and save the residents of Polvo Arrido from the bandits that have them under thumb?
While I didn't like this one as much as The Blood Libel, it was still pretty good. It reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom more than anything else. The Rider's past was fleshed out a little bit more and, once again, he took a pretty good beating and still came out on top. The one complaint I have is that he walked into an ambush a little too easily when he visited Scarchilli.
Hell's Hired Gun: The Merkabah Rider encounters an old preacher, who recounts the tale of Medgar Tooms, a gunfighter that killed an entire town after the death of his family and now stalks the prairie dragging chains and leading a pack of ravenous pigs. Can the Merkabah Rider put an end to his reign of terror?
Hell's Hired Gun was pretty good but didn't involve much in the way of magic from the Rider. The violence was well done and the subplot of the Hour of Incursion by the Elder Gods mentioned in the first story was elaborated upon.
The Nightjar Women: The Merkabah Rider finds himself in a town where no children are born and three prostitutes seem to be in league with a dark power...
At last, The Rider gets a hint of Adon's whereabouts. More of The Rider's past is revealed, and more about the Hour of Incursion. Lots of Talmudic stuff in this one and The Rider seems more human than ever. The Merkabah Rider continues his transformation into one of my favorite weird western characters. That's about all I'm going to reveal for fear of spoilage.
For fans of weird western, look no farther than the adventures of the Merkabah Rider. I'll be tracking down the second volume very soon.