Sunday, April 01, 2012
Swords and Six Guns
My friend Howard Andrew Jones mentioned that he had been reading bunch of old Series Westerns written by an author named John Benteen. Well, actually Howard mentioned the writer by his real name, Ben Haas. I wasn't familiar with Haas, but since Howard and I tend to like many of the same kinds of fiction, I tracked down one each of Benteen's series, Fargo and Sundance. Started with Sundance: The Wild Stallions. Sundance is a half breed, a striking looking Indian with blond hair and blue eyes. His series is subtitled man of Violence, so that should let you know right off that these are manly books. The one I read was extremely entertaining, very violent, and much better written that one would expect from a series Western from the 1960s-70s.
During my web search for Benteen/Haas, I learned that in addition to writing a lot of westerns, Haas had also written a few sword & sorcery novels using the pen names Quinn Reade and Richard Meade, Turned out I already owned the Reade book, Quest of the Dark Lady, which I had bought a few years back, mostly for the Jeff Jones cover, and had never gotten around to reading. Since Quest and Stallions were each less than 200 pages, I read them back to back.
Of the two, I preferred the Western. Though I'd rate the S&S book on an equal standing with John Jakes' Brak novels, I got the feeling that Haas wasn't entirely comfortable in the sword & sorcery realm. Still, his hero, Wulf the bladesman, is cut from the same cloth as Sundance, so he's not an hombre to mess with.
I will definitely track down some more of the Sundance series. Quick, violent reads, very much in the pulp tradition. So thanks, Howard. Once again you've steered me toward some fun reading.