John Montagne's Reviews > The Buntline Special

The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick
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's review
Aug 25, 11

liked it

I adjusted this down from four stars, as I realized that my love for the weird west sub-genre was probably effecting my judgement of it. Buntline revolved around the famous conflict of the O.K. Corral re-written (though said shootout didn't actually happen in the corral), with the supernatural involved - and some steampunk thrown in. Western enthusiasts will recognize many of the characters, Bat Masterson, The Earp brothers, Doc Holiday, etc. The plot is pretty straight-forward, and while there are some subplots, they're weak but not altogether uninteresting. Some of the story arcs are not very sharp, this could have been helped with more 'build-up'/tension. The characters themselves are moderately developed, though if one has read a lot of westerns or accounts of the wild west, they will realize that the author simply did 'character sketches' of the historical counterparts (and did manage to place actual sentences they were quoted to have said). The magic spells in it were kind of a let-down. When something 'magical' happened it was barely described (such as shape-changing, which in my opinion should have more description as metamorphosis is a fascinating thing in our natural world let alone in fantasy/science fiction), and to cast a spell the shaman/medicine man had to merely do a quick chant and wave his arms. The magic system itself was thought out though, relying on an electrical frequency, which is more than many fantasy novels revolving around vague magic systems. The steampunk elements were interesting, but sometimes forced (for instance, the author does the classic 'characters wearing the goggles for no reason' mistake - in the shootout at the O.K. Corral). The climax was weak, and left me with a mere shrug. Not to say this wasn't a fun read - the writing style is very easy, but it lacked the 'grit' of a good western novel. I'm interested to see how the author will continue the series and will read the next one - hoping for more unique character development of historical figures that I cherish.

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