Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Book Review: Blaze of Glory by Ryan Krol

An Interesting Story Written in an Unusual Style

First person omniscient? That’s a narrator, sometimes the protagonist as in this book, who not only knows everything he/she is thinking but the thoughts of every other character. I can’t say I’ve read many books like that, but Jimmy Buckman, the protagonist of Blaze of Glory knows all! “I wasn’t surprised that he knew my name. Neither was Robert nor Downing.” And while that sounds like an optimal point of view, I found it quite distracting. One minute, Buckman is recounting his thoughts. The next, he’s reading everyone’s mind around him. If you want to give it a try, check out this book.

Point of view aside, Blaze of Glory is an interesting tale. Jimmy Buckman is a rancher, turned gunslinger of sorts when the villain, Lone Pine Jack Maddux tries to steal the gold he believes Buckman’s father has left him. Actually, there isn’t any gold; it’s just a family legend that Buckman has failed to keep secret. And though Buckman, his son, Robert, and his friends get the better of Maddux during the confrontation, they flee and Maddux burns the ranch. (Frankly, I had some trouble following the logic of Buckman having the upper hand against Maddux and then leaving the ranch to be destroyed, but took it as a literary gimme.) After that, Buckman and son join up with friends and they go after the gold so Buckman can start anew. Maddux pursues him, setting up potentially deadly confrontations along the route, although why Maddux didn’t just wait for Buckman to return with the gold is another mystery to me.

All of this story is being recounted some thirty-seven years after it occurred when a reporter interviews Buckman. Maddux shows up at the interview and scenes with lots of traded glares and veiled threats ensue. Of course, if you think about it—Buckman’s son was 17 during the original story, meaning Buckman was mid-to-late 30s. So, during the later interview, which occurred in 1906, you have two 70+ year-olds snarling at each other in a time when life expectancy was under 50. It’s not impossible, although that perspective changed my image of the scene considerably.

Though interesting, the story had several weaknesses in its telling. For one, the language didn’t seem appropriate to the era or the rancher/gunslinger character: “I thought it would be more beneficial to adapt to the darkness and let the moonlight take over as the spotlight.” There were quite a few typos and internal inconsistencies: “Downing managed to kill Charlie McGwire, and I got Gus Davis.” Then later, Buckman says, “Never in my life had I killed anyone ….” Terminology was used inappropriately or at least in unusual ways; Buckman often "parks" his horse, for example. Additionally, perhaps due to the author’s background in film, the text often includes detailed movements of every character. “So, Elizabeth, Whitewater, Wind Runner, Timmy, and I all dismounted.” A few sentences later, “Kaiba then led the way as Elizabeth, Robert, Whitewater, Wind Runner, Timmy, and I all followed Kaiba to his hut.” And a few more sentences, “Meanwhile, Elizabeth, Robert, Whitewater, Wind Runner, Timmy, and I all sat in the hut ….” That style hurts the story’s pace. The dialog is similar, where nearly every statement is attributed to a specific person. True, attributing statements is a balancing act—too many slow the pace, too few can be confusing—but for my tastes, the book was on the “too many” side of the issue.

Overall, Blaze of Glory is an interesting story told in an unusual style. The writing, however, ends up feeling somewhat plodding because action and dialog are told in low-level detail more than shown in the flow of the plot and through different voices of the characters.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

No comments :

Post a Comment