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A Rope of Thorns: Volume Two of the Hexslinger Series (Hexslinger #2)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  168 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
You must let blood to get blood.

New Mexico, 1867. As consort to resurrected Mayan goddess Ixchel, hexslinger "Reverend" Asher Rook has founded "Hex City," the first place in all of human history where magicians can live and work together safely. But this tenuous peace is threatened by the approach of Rook's former lover, Chess Pargeter, bent on revenge over Rook's betrayal
ebook, 329 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by ChiZine (first published January 1st 2011)
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May 04, 2012 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know who wrote the plot synopsis but s/he obviously didn't read the book...
(Re-posted from

One of the most unique reading experiences for me in a long time was Gemma Files' "Book of Tongues." (I recommend reading that one before reading this review.) The book was not without its flaws, but I'd take flawed and interesting over perfect and safe any day of the week, believe me.

Not surprising then that I dived straight into its sequel, and book two of Hexslinger trilogy, "Rope of Thorns" as soon as it arrived at my doorstep. As always wit
Dec 14, 2013 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Weird West, M/M, MesoAmerican
Shelves: ebook
Book Info: Genre: Weird Western/Supernatural Horror/Steampunk
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Weird West, horror, those interested in Meso-American religious practices
Trigger Warnings for Book 2: killing, murder, discussion of mass suicides, human sacrifice , m/m sex, obscenity, profanity, blasphemy, self-injury, non PC language
Animal Injuries: several horses are killed during a melee

My Thoughts on Book 2: Chess Pargeter has quite a mouth on him. I would love to share some of the cre
Jul 16, 2011 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After the vicious Book of Tongues, Rope is a true middle chapter, as our heroes (?) wander on their quest, vanquishing foes while incrementally getting closer to their goal. What that goal is, is in some doubt, as Chess—as violent and psychotic a protagonist as there has ever been— actually grows as a character, learning the limits of his power and actually evolving into something far more interesting. He starts Rope looking purely for revenge, but as Chess becomes more self-aware, he begins to ...more
Kate O'Hanlon
Jul 25, 2011 Kate O'Hanlon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, weird-west, horror
Another delectable serving of blood, sex and psycho Aztec gods.

We've reached the 'characters wander about, seemingly aimlessly, instead of getting on with what they claim they're intent on doing' second book, this should be familiar to any frequent peruser of trilogies. Files uses this lacuna to good effect though by focusing mostly on character and world development.

The whole book is character development bootcamp for Chess, who has to grow up and realize that killing people doesn't make peop
KV Taylor
May 21, 2012 KV Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
This installment in the mind-boggling Hexslinger series continues the awesome and ups the ante considerably. Many of the questions born of Files's fever-dream-pretty writing are cleared up here -- sans infodump, a massive credit to her ability. Point of view, though it hops between heads throughout, is sharp, clear, and wielded like the weapon it ought to be. My only complaint from a writing standpoint is that some of the scenes still seem to go on too long. It's understandable with the massive ...more
Jason Bradley
4.5 stars

Wow! What a wild ride. This second book in the series twisted the timeline more smoothly in my opinion. These characters are amazing and I am fully invested in this series now!
Mason Jones
Oct 15, 2011 Mason Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A follow-up to "A Book of Tongues", this is the second of three volumes of Gemma Files' "Hexslinger Series". It would be hard to go wrong with a Civil War-set western, "hexacious" magic-wielding gunfighters, suspicious Pinkertons, and Aztec gods and goddesses. In this second volume, Files surpasses the first one, partially thanks to less need for introductions: we know the characters, though we're introduced to a terrific new one. Ghost-speaker Yancey Colder loses everything, but it only makes h ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am surely addicted, and this new addiction has a name – Gemma Files. The author spins together imagery that is breath-taking in both beauty and terror.

Chess’s character really grew in this second book. At the end of Book 1, I was cheering him on, but in this book his personality is unfolding piece by piece, against his better judgement. Ed has to address the fact that he cares deeply for Chess, while at the same time being attracted to the opposite sex. Asher Rook, Chess’s former lover, did a
Andrea Blythe
A Rope of Thorns is book two in a trilogy, so if you don't want any spoilers, I suggest you stop reading and go devour A Book of Tongues first.

Book two has Reverend Rook and his Lady Ixchel constructing "Hex City," built on blood and carnage, but also the only place where hexes can live in peace with one another. Meanwhile, Chess, the red-headed little man of grit and violence, barely in control of his new abilities, seeks his revenge against his former lover, Rook, while avoiding the attacks of
Aug 09, 2013 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know that song by Angelspit that goes, 'Rip out my heart/Beat me to death with it'? Pretty much sums up this book.

It's probably ironic that Chess Pargeter started to actually care about people (other than himself and Rook) after he got his heart literally ripped out of his chest, and when he started becoming less human. But it's also when he started seeing people, instead of just irritating gun targets, so I guess there's that.

This book focuses more on Chess and Morrow: how disaster (spelled
JJ DeBenedictis
This was an interestingly frustrating book.

On a page-by-page basis, it's rather brilliant, with a fantastic voice, memorable characters, and elegant and vivid sensory details.

However, the plot was almost non-existent for the first half of the book. The story had zero narrative drive, and the good prose was the only reason to slog onward.

I was on the verge of giving up when the plot finally picked up and became interesting, but that was literally half-way through the book. Unfortunately, then th
Jan 02, 2016 Zserilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I basically inhaled the first book but the next was more like fine wine, sipped here and there and not to be guzzled down. Admittedly, there wasn't as many, how shall I say it, adult parts in this book, and little pervert that I am, wasn't into reading this as much as I should have, because it is a better book, in my opinion, than the first.

If somewhere were to read this series without a firm background in gay fantasy, they probably wouldn't label this book as some sort of adventure, but that w
As Rook builds Hex City, the first established gathering of magicians, newly-awakened Chess sets out for revenge--but he doesn't journey alone. A Rope of Thorns is a right mess, but that's not a bad thing. It (re)introduces character and settings, cluttering up the stage; it has numerous metamorphoses and developments; the end stacks on itself in layers of aborted climaxes, messy and labyrinthine. But while it could use some paring down (the ending, in particular), I would expect nothing less. I ...more
Derek Newman-Stille
With A Rope of Thorns Gemma Files has written a Dionysian text. Like the Greek god, the world she creates is one of fluids and fluidity – of blood, Absynthe, semen, and sap – and these are intertwined in the form of her character Chess. He is a creature of raw sexuality and transformation – a queer cowboy turned magical demi-god after his flaying in A Book of Tongues. His godly characteristics in A Rope of Thorns, given to him by a Mayan deity through his flaying, have meant that wherever he tra ...more
Kate O'Hanlon
Jun 19, 2012 Kate O'Hanlon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-west, audiobook
*audio review only. see here for book review.*

Another excellent reading from Gordon MacKenzie, who's given a larger cast to voice this time. I especially love Yancy's clipped speech and his New Yorker Hank Fennig (and knowing Files' proclivities I could only grin and think Gangs of New York).

Also he sings. HE SINGS.

I cannot wait for A Tree Of Bones to come out on audio next so I can have the set.
Abi Walton
This book broke my heart! And I think I loved it more than A Book of Tongues! its probably ironic that Chess started to care (and even love?) about the people around him (not withstanding Rook and of course himself) when his heart is literally ripped out and eaten infant of him.
I really liked how this book focused more on Chess and Morrow because at the end of the last book I was thinking we were heading for Chess/Marrow, which I totally wouldn't have minded, and to a certain extent we get that
Wahiaronkwas David
More when I can think clearly...
Jun 20, 2014 Yan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, lgbt
Mostly pretty compelling, and introduces a couple of intriguing new characters. It also genuinely made me care about Chess, and considering what a murderous loose cannon he is, that's quite a feat. The over-long magical battles could use an edit, though.
Nov 14, 2014 Karl marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chizine_own
Thi is copy 14 of 35 signed numbered copies.
Aug 31, 2013 Michèle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Notre western fantastique se poursuit, avec en prime une couple de résurrections temporaires, histoire de ne pas gâcher des beaux persos!

Chess, le fou de la gâchette au début du tome un, acquiert des pouvoirs, mais s'humanise graduellement. Les Pinkerton entrent en scène. Une cité apocalyptique se construit dans le désert. Un idylle se dessine entre... mais chut! vous le lirez vous-mêmes. J'adore.
Jan 02, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This books continue to confound me, but I can't stop reading them! They are filled with love, sex, violence, magic, and mythology. I also find them impossible to describe.
Apr 16, 2013 Avivs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was much better than the first one. The characters were more interesting and the story felt more to the point.
The reason that i'm not giving this one 5 start is because some scenes were just too long. The last scene is actually around 20% of the book. Insane!

Moving on to the next book.
I misplaced this mid-read and can't say I'm missing it much. I feel like I'd like these better if they busted out of their awkward, badly plotted cocoons and became the beautiful trashy gay bodice ripping butterflies they were meant to be.
Sep 29, 2015 Sabrina rated it liked it
I (as a non native english reader) found this book hard to follow at times. There's so much western-style poetic word use I got lost every now and then. The story is fascinating though.
Mar 27, 2013 Karlo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really tried to finish this second book in the series, but I just couldn't get excite enough to do so. I figure 100+ pages is enough to give it a shot, so there you go.
Kelly Flanagan
Nov 22, 2013 Kelly Flanagan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
review pending
Andrew Vickers
Andrew Vickers marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2016
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Previously best-known as a film critic for Toronto's eye Weekly, teacher and screenwriter, Gemma Files first broke onto the international horror scene when her story "The Emperor's Old Bones" won the 1999 International Horror Guild award for Best Short Fiction. She is the author of two collections of short work (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under N ...more
More about Gemma Files...

Other Books in the Series

Hexslinger (3 books)
  • A Book of Tongues (Hexslinger, #1)
  • A Tree of Bones (Hexslinger, #3)

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“It amazed Chess how he'd really believed, almost all along, that there was nothing he'd miss, leaving this world. Only the whole of it, you ass-stupid fool.

Every bit, the living and the dead, and then some; hot sun on his back, the wind and the rain, full-out galloping into battle, feel of his guns in hand, a good hard fuck. Getting drunk - on absinthe, anger, blood. Stomping twice on some enemy's face for good measure, and laughing while he did it; the sound of Asher Rook's voice preaching, or Yancey's, singing. Ed's heartbeat under his cheek.”
“Yeah, that's right, Doc: I'm Chess Pargeter, he's Ed Morrow-this is a gun, so's this. Now, I'm just gonna go outside and kill that big bastard, and if I come back in here and find Ed ain't been fixed in the interim, you best believe I will end you. Got that?” 0 likes
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