Some Reviews Of Merkabah Rider And The First Three Pages Of The Series

The Rider’s signature weapon, his silver and gold gilded Volcanic pistol, stamped with twenty two Solomonic seals.

When all the varmints of hell and worse are snappin’ at your boot heels, trust the gun that’s shomer shabbos.

It’s Merkabah Rider.

But what the heck is it?

It’s a weird western.

OK but what’s a weird western? It’s essentially a western with….well, weirdness thrown in. Ghosts, demons, zombies, (my umbrella term is ‘ghoulies’), anything bizarre and out of place. Like Cowboys and Aliens or Jonah Hex. But better than that. More like Grim Prarie Tales or High Plains Drifter, if you’ve ever seen those.

So what’s weird about the west of Merkabah Rider (and that’s Mur-ka-baa Rider)?

Set in 1879-1882, the series follows The Rider, a Hasidic gunslinger tracking the renegade teacher who betrayed his mystic Jewish order of astral travelers across the demon-haunted Southwest. As part of his training and vows, the Rider has given up his true name to prevent his coming under the influence of malevolent spiritual forces. He drapes himself in protective talismans and carries a silver and golden gilded Volcanic pistol covered in glyphs and Hebrew symbols. At times he, sports a pair of blue glass lenses, mystically embossed with Solominic seals that allow him to see into the spirit world.

Now, the world of Merkabah Rider is the historical west, and the Rider sometimes bumps into real people. He’s met Doc Holiday, Geronimo, and Wyatt Earp’s future wife, to name a few. The average joe cowboy doesn’t know jack about angels and demons beyond what the local street preacher tries to hammer through his hangover on Sunday morning.

But the thing about the Merkabah Rider series is, everything’s real. Every bump in the night campfire story, every hell and damnation sermon the pulpiteers throw down. The Rider tangles with a demonically possessed ex-Confederate sharpshooter, a brothel full of antediluvian succubi, and a gang of half-demon outlaws with an infernal cannon in the course of his adventures. But there are worse things out there. Things some people only whisper about. Terrible, cosmic things.

If you’ve read any HP Lovecraft, any Ambrose Bierce or Chambers, you know what I’m getting at. There are things worse than the mere devil and demons of Horatio’s philosophy. Old things from the dark void before God and Creation.

Imagine Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane meets Joe R. Lansdale’s Dead In The West. Although they’re novels, they’re presented as collections of sequential, novella-length ‘episodes’ to evoke the old Zebra and Lancer pulp paperback collections.

Read some reviews, culled from around the web, or click on a cover to the right and read an excerpt.

Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter

“Riding out of the Old West comes the Merkabah Rider, a Hasidic gunfighter who owes his provenance as much to the nasty inhabitants of Elmore Leonard’s westerns as he does his piousness to Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane. This highly original episodic series breathes new life into the overworked western with tight action, inglorious heroes, and unpredictable plots.” – Weston Ochse, award-winning author of SEAL Team 666 and
Scarecrow Gods

“The Rider is a fabulous character, in all senses of that word, and Erdelac’s a fabulous writer. High Planes Drifter contains all the demons, ancient gods, and gunplay a lover of weird westerns could want, but
told from an angle no one else has touched before. Where else are you going to find a Jewish Doctor Strange packing heat in the old west? Nowhere, that’s where. This is crazily entertaining stuff.” – Daryl Gregory, award-winning author of Pandemonium and Raising Stony Mayhall

For a reviewer, it is always a pleasure to find the unexpected trinket of treasure somewhere in the pile of dreck that too many novels of any genre tend to indulge in. The Merkabah Rider series has been exactly that, combining the Weird West mystic overtones of Joe R. Lansdale with the commitment to historical accuracy of Max Allan Collins. -J. Keith Haney, Innsmouth Free Press.

Merkabah Rider 2: The Mensch With No Name

Merkabah Rider 3: Have Glyphs Will Travel

MERKABAH RIDER-HAVE GLYPHS_Erdelac__edited-HEALINGMerkabah Rider 4: Once Upon A Time In The Weird West

Merkabah Rider 4 cover


And here’s the first three pages of Merkabah Rider: Tales Of A High Planes Drifter….

The Blood Libel

Episode One

The Merkabah Rider passed into the San Pedro River valley on a narrow, stony path through the Huachucas. It was an old road white men and Mexicans wouldn’t use. They dreaded the Apache purported to skulk in the rocky places drunk on tiswin, plotting the rape of virgins and devising new ways to make the blue bellied soldiers scream.

The Chiricahua shunned it too, reckoning it too arduous and remote a pass. Some among them believed it sank into the heart of the mountains and passed through the shadowy worlds of wicker and web where only Coyote dared, to finally open up into the dark place where it was said the ravenous thunderbirds of old nested, dreaming lightning dreams, and stirring at the smell of a man’s terror.

The Rider had encountered none of these things. Thirst and shifting stones and steep paths were all the evils that plagued him. As for the shaggy white onager he led, perhaps it had sensed all manner of evils.

It had balked and shivered enough times on the journey, but whether that was from preternatural unease or inborn wild ass stubbornness, he couldn’t say.

He had spent the day passing through the foothills and trekking across the flat anvil of the baking valley floor in the direction of the river. There was a town there, haphazardly arranged as if some ungainly colossus had tripped over the ribbon of water and spilled the clapboard and adobe buildings from its arms, then stumbled on.



POP 180

The letters were carved into a plank sign bolted to a boulder set along a road, which appeared quite suddenly. It was a rutted swath that slashed through the rough tumble of ominous saguaro and mean dry brush and drove down the center of the town. The Rider followed it.

It was on a dying, red sun Friday when he passed into the town; only the black gummed growl of a scrawny, long-nippled cur that slid from underneath the shadows of a boardwalk, welcomed him. Though there were people locking up stores and heading for their homes, they greeted him in much the same way as the bitch, but in their own, more insidious manner.

Curtains drew. Fleshy lips moved behind lily hands. Whispers carried words he’d heard a hundred times before in towns better than this. Questions both bemused (What do you make of that?) and pregnant with fear-born threat (Who does he think he is?). Speculations (Some kinda Mennonite? A Mormon? A Mexican-Mormon?). Then, probably from some drummer who had been out of the valley once or twice— maybe as far as Tombstone or Bisbee he heard another; Jew.

That was all it took to tip the murmurs spilling. They came gushing over curled lips like the salivation of wagging dogs smelling a kill. They crawled up, pestilent and envenomed, from the throats of shopkeepers—men in aprons, who if they knew whom they were addressing, would have hunkered down behind the counters of their stores and averted their gaze like peons before a passing maharajah. They squeezed through the gritted yellow teeth of posturing men with wide belts and big pistols who thought themselves hard, but would have scrabbled with their fingers in the earth to hide their eyes from all The Rider had seen.

The words meant nothing to The Rider. They were just more words.

Christ-Killer. Heeb. Dirty Jew.

He knew what he was to them, in his strange black garb and his long, blue-black beard and curled payos. He knew they looked on the four white fringes of his prayer tallit with nervous hatred. He was alien to them who knew only mine dust and horse stink, faded calico, and the red faced brimstone clamor of the gospel peddler. He was a weird apparition that stoked distrust in the most neighborly breast. He was a strange mirage shimmering down the desert road, salted in moon dust and smelling of foreign lands.

As he passed a sundry, where a fat clerk leaned in the doorway speaking with a rail thin man in overalls who straddled a barrel, he heard the clerk say;

“One of them. And right down the middle of the street! Someone should…”

The Rider paused in his walk, feeling the onager nuzzle against the small of his back and snort, wondering why they were lingering when water was so near. The Rider fixed his stare on the fat clerk, looking at the man’s pinched face over the golden rims of the blue tinted spectacles he wore. The clerk gave pause, and his eyes flitted to The Rider’s frock where he saw the gilded pistol strapped to his waist. Those eyes met The Rider’s once more, then darted with sudden interest to a sign on the wall—an advertisement for Proven Gall Bitters, which promised a relief to habitual feminine maladies.

Neither the clerk nor the barrel rider spoke again till he was gone.

The Rider was a man who understood the root of fear, but would not suffer its fruits.


If you’re convinced, head over to Amazon and give Merkabah Rider a shot…print or ebook.

And please, love it or hate it, tell somebody or write a review.

Shalom, pardners.

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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Ed,

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve recently read Tales of a High Plains Drifter, and I literally could not believe how great it was. First of all, I was seriously impressed at how much research you must have done with all of the Jewish mysticism involved in a story like that. Not only that, but the blending with Cthulu type mythology completely ruled! You nailed the Old West feel, and The Rider is a wonderful character. I am currently reading The Mensch with No Name, and if anything is better than the first book. The stakes have been upped tremendously, and I am just now getting a feel for just how powerful his enemies are. Also, kudos for making me feel absolute terror reading about just how awful a demonic cannon can be, and then a few pages later making me almost feel compassion for it when the Rider puts it out of its misery! I have also read Red Sails, which I thought was equally brilliant.

    As a huge fan of the Weird West, I hope Cowboys vs. Aliens ignites a fire in the reading public to seek more of this type of subgenre. Thank you so much for the wonderful stories, and please, keep them coming!

    • Hey Jeff! Thanks a lot for dropping in and letting me know you’re enjoying the series. I really appreciate it – and thanks for giving Red Sails a try as well. Hope you enjoy the end of The Mensch With No Name. Book 3, Have Glyphs Will Travel, should be coming your way from DB at the end of the year, and Pill Hill Press will have a one off Rider story called ‘The Shomer Express’ in their monster hunter anthology, ‘The Trigger Effect’ (don’t know when that’s due yet). I have my fingers crossed on Cowboys vs. Aliens as well (as I did for Jonah Hex unfortunately). I like John Favreau and I haven’t seen Harrison Ford in a cowboy outfit since The Frisco Kid, so I’m excited. Wish they’d got a real Native American girl, but that’s Hollywood. Johnny Depp is their ideal Tonto!

  2. […] There have been three notable exceptions, Gully Gods (from Four In The Morning) The Crawlin’ Chaos Blues, and Merkabah Rider. […]

  3. my landlord says that it should properly be Merkavah, with a “vav” instead of a “beit.” but he likes the concept, and says it’s the oddest Hebraic-oriented thing he’s heard of since “Snow in August.”

    • Yeah honestly the beit spelling just appealed to me for some reason. I tried it both ways before I went back to the beit. The first time ever I read the word it was misspelled that way.

      • Not vav, just vet. Biblical word, so there’s no real doubt about the spelling: מרכבה

  4. Looking forward with GREAT enthusiasm to the last installment. Does it have a title or projected publication date yet?

    • The title for the last installment, which is a full length, non-episodic novel, is tentatively Once Upon A Time In The Weird West. I hope to have it out by the end of this year or early next. I’m planning to have a few illustrations throughout, so it may delay things a little.

  5. Merkabah Rider is a great, wonderful read, and Erdalac has done his research well. He has very creatively blended historical, mythological, and theological into a very unique concept of a grand adventure. The Rider, (a seemingly blend of Clint Eastwood’s famous “Man with no name” character, Indiana Jones, and Van Helsing), is a character that you can get behind. You feel for him. You root for him.
    This is a book that really can not be compared with another. The way Erdelac has woven his creation of a world and era is like no other that I have read. This book stands alone because it can. And you want more.
    To describe this book in one word, I would have to create a new word.”Fantastique”, for it is fantastically unique.

    • Thanks a lot for stopping in with the kind word, Scott.

    • Sampled the prose, appreciated its inventiveness, might read the stories. “Fantastique”‘s already a real word though.

  6. Is the first book really out of print, with no way to order, and no kindle version? This makes me very sad. I really want to get into this series? Options?

    • Hey Daniel – I have exactly two print copies of the first book left, which I can let go for $20 each with free shipping in the continental US (everybody else pays actual shipping) via Paypal. I can probably work something out with Kindle. Email me at -Ed

      • Thank you. I forgot to check the
        “Notify me of new comments via email.” box when I posted and by the time I checked back I had already been to the used bookstore. I had it shipped from another location. I know used book sale does you know good but I am hooked and am going to read the others on kindle (my preferred method). I definitely am going to tell folks about this series especially folks in my Doomtown group (

  7. Thanks so much, Daniel. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Doomtown looks pretty cool. I do some tabletop gaming.

  8. Okay I am on to the fourth book. Just two things are really nagging at me. We jews don’t really believe in a “Satan”. And are not onagers notoriously untamable?

    • Hey Daniel, thanks for writing, and for picking up the series.

      Yeah onagers ARE wild animals not really given over to the bit and bridle. But by the end of the fourth book the Rider’s companion’s odd nature should be explained.

      As to Satan, though I did use a lot of John Milton in his depiction, the character has some precedent in Jewish folklore (if not in proper religious practice). In Merkabah Rider Satan or Lucifer is a subservient angel who once bucked the system he is a part of out of personal ambition and was basically given a crummy duty as punishment, just as the angel Samael was – he’s not precisely a force against God as depicted in some Christian-centric genre fiction.

      From Geoffrey Dennis’ Jewish Myth Magic and Mysticism, which was a big influence on the series, Rabbi Dennis refers to the Baba Batra Talmudic Tractate as a source on his definition of Satan (or ha-Satan) which reads;

      Satan, ha-Satan – “Adversary/Accuser.” The angel of temptation and sin. From his first appearance in the book of Job as one of the B’nai Elohim, the ‘Sons of God.’…..Unlike in Christian mythology, where Satan is seen as a kind of ‘anti-God’ leading the forces of rebellious angels/demons against God’s rule, in Jewish tradition Satan is totally subservient to God. In Jewish myth functions as God’s prosecuting attorney, indicting sinners and demanding their punishment. As the angel of temptation, he is also conducting perpetual ‘sting operations’ against mortals, setting them up in situations meant to lead them into transgression. But at no point in normative Jewish literature is there any indication Satan can act contrary to the will of God.”

      In the Ta’anit tractate, it’s said that Satan introduced Noah to wine, and according to Folio 89a of the Tractate Shabbath of the Babylonian Talmud (which deals with the Golden Calf) – ‘At the end of forty days Satan came and confounded the world. Said he to them: ‘Where is your teacher Moses?’ ‘He has ascended on high,’ they answered him. ‘The sixth [hour] has come,’ said he to them, but they disregarded him. ‘He is dead’ — but they disregarded him. [Thereupon] he showed them a vision of his bier, and this is what they said to Aaron, for this Moses, the man, etc.’

      There are other instances Rabbi Dennis mentions, but all that being said, I’m far from an expert on Judaism or Christianity (or even Lovecraft for that matter). Given the revelations about the nature of God that take place in book four, I hope I’m clear that Merkabah Rider’s just a story culled from many different elements which I’ve tried to mix into a satisfying whole, and that while I have made a concerted effort not to maliciously misrepresent anyone’s beliefs, I’m not trying to depict a real to-the-letter faith or cosmogyny either. The Sons of The Essenes bare only a passing resemblance to the actual Essenes of history. I like to think that in the universe(s) of Merkabah Rider, everything has a measure of truth, as Faustus Montague states at one point. Conversely, as a writer, I know that in a story for every piece of truth there must be an accompanying lie to balance it out. I hope that doesn’t detract too much from the appreciation.

      • Thanks! I knew you had done some research and I was just wondering how you got where you did. I mean I am reading a cowboy fighting old ones yarn, I was totally willing to roll with it. Again awesome story telling on this one, you have made a fan.
        Enjoyment level not decreased one iota.

        Mi-Go now.

  9. Hello Mr. Erdelac,
    I only recently came across your merkebah rider series and finished the first book! I really like it! The writing is exceptional and the rider is a very unique weird west character! 🙂

    I noticed that not all of the series is currently available as ebooks on both the Barnes & Noble and Amazon websites (only book 4 is available). Do you know when they will become available again, particularly the nook (ePub) versions?

    • Hey Michael! Thanks for dropping a note and I’m glad you’re liking the series. Yeah my contracts with Damnation Books have expired, so all the e-copies are down. I do have a few remaining copies of the second and (I think) third books in paperback on hand, but the e-copies won’t be re-released until the series is brought back out again, probably in 2017 through Ragnarok Publications, who did my collection With Sword And Pistol this year.

      • Hello Mr. Erdelac,
        Thank you for responding so quickly! That is too bad that volumes 2 and 3 are no longer available as ebooks. Can I inquire as to how much it may cost to get hardcopies of those books – vols. 2 and 3 – from you, particularly vol. 2? It seems to be the most expensive volume to get secondhand. I will be looking forward to the re-release of the series in 2017 (hopefully sooner). Do you know if it will be re-released as a compilation, individually, or both?



  10. Hi Ed,
    Not sure if my other post got put up from earlier today (if it did just ignore this one). Just wanted to ask if/when the ebook versions of Merkabah Rider vols. 2 and 3, particulary for nook, will be available again (I already have the first book on kindle). Vol. 4 is currently the only ebook available in the series on B&N and Amazon.

    Thanks and keep writing good books! 🙂

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