Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Indie Book Review: The Converted

A man with a dark past escapes to a new land hoping for a new life and atonement for past sins. Welcome to one of the great Western tropes. Many careers have been made on this basic plot, and I'm thinking C. R. Hindmarsh, author of The Converted, might be one of them as well.

Hindmarsh adds some new twists to the tale; it's not precisely a Western, in that it appears to be set in a fantasy world.  But it's a fantasy world with trains, guns, a mostly 1880s tech level, wilderness, Indians (Skia), and a powerful elite. There's even the local mayor who stands up to the rampaging savages, soldiers who don't really know what's going on where they are, and a stand off at a public hanging.

So, all in all, everything everyone loves about Westerns are in this book. If it takes place in New Alania instead of Wyoming, well, who really cares?

The twist, instead of a dark past of Civil War crimes (or heroics) our Dark Hero was a failed geneticist, whose experiments killed a slew of children.

It's a good twist. Everything other than the genetics looks pretty well set for the 1880s, but the rich and powerful have figured out how to vert (convert) genes and are walking around with different colors, different skin types (scales for example). It's not so much that the powerful have more money, they're practically a different species by the time this story gets going.

But of course, there's a dark secret involving the verts and the rich and powerful. And it's the job of the hero to get to the bottom of it and seek redemption along the way.

The cast of characters is wide enough to cover almost all of the basic Western roles. There was no whore with a heart of gold, but I think that was the only one who was missing.  They are competently drawn, interesting, and worth following.

This is a tidy and solid western. (Even if it looks a little different.)  If the drifter, one step ahead of the law, rides into town, finds things aren't the way they should be, grows a spine and a conscience, and then, with the aid of a few new friends, goes in and saves the day, overthrowing the corrupting influence is your idea of a good time, go read The Converted, you will enjoy it.

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