I wanna take a minute to familiarize the peanut gallery with the excellent, insightful reviews J. Keith Haney has been giving the entire Merkabah Rider series since it’s beginning.
I love IFP’s reviews anyway and am really honored to see Merkabah Rider get such an appreciative write up over there.
Here they are in order, with some of the best bits quoted. Please take a look at the links for the full review.
MERKABAH RIDER: TALES OF A HIGH PLANES DRIFTER –
‘There are two elements of Merkabah Rider that make it stand out. One, the clash of cultures highlighted throughout. Too much of what we have come to accept of the history of the old American West has come from white-washed Hollywood films and their pulp predecessors. The biggest mistake these fictions make is that everything is just as homogenized as we like to pretend our society today is. Erdelac reminds us that this landscape has many competing cultures knocking heads, with little to no arbitration to keep the bloodshed down. He shows that the main source of the strife is when all the ugly prejudices that these immigrant cultures came up with in the Old World follow them out west.
Two, there are no happy endings at the close of most of these tales. Westerns have been selling happy endings like hot cakes for well over a century now, but a few of the best ones (Unforgiven, the comic miniseries Saint of Killers) leave troubling endings that echo in the brain long after the story is over. By the volume’s conclusion, the Rider has lost more than he has gained and too many of his opponents prove to be more sympathetic than they would seem at first glance.’
MERKABAH RIDER 2: THE MENSCH WITH NO NAME
‘The extraordinary characterization and culture clash are back here with gusto. The Yiddishcentric cosmic view I had complained about in the last volume is more-than-rectified here. The main trunk of the tree is still Yiddish tradition, but the branches of it manage to incorporate the Great Old Ones into the woodwork. It has the added bonus of showing faith of any kind as a constant struggle to keep up with the real world, rather than an issue that can be settled forever and ever. Modern-day Christianity could learn something from this lesson. In addition, the gradually increasing price of the Rider’s quest is brought painfully home. This also closely follows the Lovecraftian model of mystical insight: the more you learn about how the universe works, the more it costs you. The Rider’s journey adds the twist that he started off his journey THINKING he knew everything. But the revelations take as hideous a toll on him as they do on any of the scientific rationalists of the coming century (Lucifer’s punishment for these souls is particularly unsettling).’
MERKABAH RIDER 3: HAVE GLYPHS WILL TRAVEL
‘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. Having picked up on Mr. Erdelac’s work in “Crawling Chaos Blues” for the first time and loved his unique, historically based take-off on the Mythos, I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the next work that comes from his pen.’