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One-Eyed Jack

(Promethean Age #5)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King: personifications of the city of Las Vegas—its history, mystery, mystical power, and heart…

When the Suicide King vanishes—possibly killed—in the middle of a magic-rights turf war started by the avatars of Los Angeles, a notorious fictional assassin, and the mutilated ghost of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel–the King’s partner, the One-Eyed Ja
Paperback, 328 pages
Published June 22nd 2014 by Prime Books
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  195 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Received to review via Netgalley

Originally, when I got this, I intended to read the other books that are loosely in the same series first. I didn’t in the end, and I think that might have impacted my understanding of all the terms and the worldbuilding. It didn’t help that I also don’t know The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or I, Spy fandoms, given that this is very meta-fictional and several of the main characters are essentially based on those works. And then there’s also my lack of knowledge of US hist
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I decided it was time for some escapism to deal with this cold that seems to have grown into a throat infection. Someone, somewhere on the internet that I can’t remember (goodreads? tumblr?) mentioned this book and it sounded like fun, so I did the risky thing of jumping into a series in the middle. Or at the end, in this case. It was a risk that paid off in spades, as I had a great time. ‘One-eyed Jack’ uses a similar conceit to Rivers of London and sequels: that places have adoptive spirits ca ...more
Mary Kay Kare
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
An absolute tour-de-force with ghosts, legends, and genii loci. Oh, and vampires. It's more than a little meta-fictional, but highly recommended. Especially if you remember some tv shows of the 1960s with affection.
Clare Fitzgerald
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I started reading Elizabeth Bear's One-Eyed Jack a little over a year ago, in the bathtub at Mohegan Sun.

It has taken me so long to finish the book not because it wasn't good, but because I have only read it in the bath — sometimes at casinos but also sometimes not, otherwise it would have taken me even longer, especially considering the last casino I stayed at only had a shower. My copy is now very water damaged.

Anyway. I had picked One-Eyed Jack for my casino bath reading because it's about
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
A strange little book. I think I use that phrase more when writing about Elizabeth Bear than any other author.

One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King are genii loci, the legendary avatars of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas of 2002, that is, because the city's symbology shifts from decade to decade. (And 2002 is roughly when the book was written, says the author.)

We find Jack and the King setting up a ritual at Hoover Dam. It happens that Las Vegas is involved in a mystical war with (no points for guessing)
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
I would like to have given this a higher rating, but since I had a hard time following the plot (probably because the narrative seemed to assume I would know who characters like "the American" and "the Scholar" etc were). I did finish the book, but still wasn't entirely sure what was going on.

Oh, and how weird that the day after finishing it, there's a story on my local news about towns uncovered by recent drought, and one of them is Saint Thomas, where the climax of this book takes place.
Lovely, numinous magic, but the paper-thin characterization, however deliberate (and I suspect it was, as commentary on Vegas's shallowness), kept me from fully sinking into the story. If I knew Vegas--or the TV shows Bear is drawing on--better, it probably would have earned a fourth star.
Belinda Lewis
Dec 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didnt-finish
Couldn't get into this, felt like a narrower and much less interesting American Gods.

A lot of the Las Vegas and other American references went over my head though, so possibly if you're from that part of the world its a better experience.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF'd at 110 pages. The chapters are short and choppy, and the book seems to rely more on a grimy Las Vegas noir atmosphere than actual plot and dialogue. I only half knew what was happening and I 100% didn't care despite the inclusion of the ghost of John Henry, the steel driving man, whose myth taught me the meaning of beautiful tragedy when I was a child. Having read the other four Promethean Age books, this doesn't feel like it belongs in the same universe, much less the same series.

I love
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked up One-Eyed Jack as a spur of the moment decision and I am glad I did. One-Eyed Jack is part of the Promethean Age series and, although I have not read any other books in this series or by Elizabeth Bear, I thoroughly enjoyed it. No knowing what the other books were like, I found that this one was quite easy to follow once I got my head around the magic system and it read like a standalone. There was a lot to love in the book – the characters, the quirks, the overarching story. Jack was ...more
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This made for an interesting book. It's not my favorite - hence the three stars instead of four or five - but it tied in a lot of my personal loves in fiction: urban fantasy, the mythology of American cities (in this case, Los Angeles and Las Vegas and the power of fiction and media.

In the case of One-Eyed Jack, cities are represented by Genius Loci - human personifications of the cities themselves, people who are consumed and then empowered by the cities. In Los Angeles, it's Angel, the would-
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A contemporary fantasy set in Sin City with a turf war between avatars, deities, ghosts, and a twist on Elvis' appearance. It was a decent read, and I wanted to like it a lot more. I'll have to admit this is part of the Promethean Age series, and I haven't read the previous books, though it seems like it takes place in the same kind of world of deities and such, but it doesn't have the same characters, follow the events, or incorporate the same mythologies/narratives. I didn't have too much trou ...more
A Reader's Heaven
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

The One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King: personifications of the city of Las Vegas — its history, mystery, mystical power, and heart!
When the Suicide King vanishes — possibly killed — in the middle of a magic-rights turf war started by the avatars of Los Angeles, a notorious fictional assassin, and the mutilated ghost of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel — his partner, the One-Eyed Jack, must seek the aid of a bizarre b
Abi Walton
the book was stunning filled with legends, media ghosts, vampires and genii. This book is filled with the myth of America and shines. One Eyed Jack is the final book in the Promethian series - but we have a whole new set of characters from Jackie, the Jocker and Genii of Las Vagus, and his lover Stewart the suicide King and their to be Knights The Russian (based on Ilya Kuryakin) and his partner The American (Napoleon Solo) both are media ghosts trapped in their own story Man From UNCLE. It help ...more
Chris Bauer
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
One-Eyed Jack is the latest installment of Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age novels. And is a fantastic new look at the world of hidden magicks and supernature in a contemporary setting.

As always, Bear's ability to convey a tome's worth of backstory in just a few pages of dialogue is amazing. No info-dumps here, please.

The utter scope of the novel is impressive as well. Touching on a variety of themes (folklore, living legends, vampires, hidden mages and a power conflict between LA and Las Vegas)
This book was so much fun--60s spies, Elvis, ghosts, gangsters, gunslingers and con artists, all fighting for control of Las Vegas. It lagged a bit in the middle, but then picked up and hurtled toward the ending. Even when you see the twists coming, they're still fun and satisfying because following these archetypal characters through the plot is like unwrapping a pile of presents. Also, Bear's prose is delightful and delicious.

You don't have to read any other books in the Promethean Age series
Pedro Marroquín
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Pues no, no era para mi. Demasiadas referencias a series de televisión de espías de los 60, junto a un Elvis vampiro, estrellas de Las Vegas en los 50, y saltos temporales continuos entre 1964 y 2002, además de tener la impresión de haber leído la historia antes en un libro de Tim Powers, y no saber de que va el libro sobrepasada la marca de 2/3 ha hecho que pasase totalmente de la historia. Eso si, escrito muy bien. ¿Pero para qué sirve escribir muy bien si por el camino se te pierde el argumen ...more
Ms. Reader
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I received this book off of Goodreads First Reads. I have a lot of mixed thoughts about this book. I find it to be very well-written with a wide vocabulary of interestingly-used words, making this book a unique read that stands out on it's own. The author put a lot of twists and turns into the plot, and the characters were bold and decently described. Yet, my attention faltered greatly in every chapter of this book. It was hard to remained interested and his prolonging filler made it hard for me ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting experiment that didn't quite come off for me. Although part of the Promethean Age series, it is less closely tied to the earlier books, and very different to The Stratford Man duology. Many interesting concepts raised, but a knowledge of Las Vegas history/folklore and of three 1960s TV Spy series is helpful to appreciate all of the subtleties and links in the book. Googling is helpful to a point, particularly on playing cards, but I was still left with the feeling that I was missi ...more
Matt Fimbulwinter
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Bear's love letter to Las Vegas, with spies and leather.

Never having been to Vegas, I didn't get as much out of this as I might have. Also, a major component of the book are the media ghosts, characters from 60s TV spy shows who've snuck into the book's reality. They're never given their source names, so it was mainly because I read Bear's blog that I recognized the characters from I Spy and Man From UNCLE. I *think* I know who the assassin was, but I was never certain. As a result, I wasn't br
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1960s, kindle, scifi, spies
I don't usually read urban fantasy, but the presence of ghostly 1960s TV spies was more than I could resist. I particularly liked the way the author avoided copyright issues by making the agents unnamed as part of the plot, which kept me interested and guessing all the way through. With a cast containing John Henry, Doc Halliday, and a bunch of others I won't name for reasons of spoilers, this was a bunch of fun.
Shawn Manning
Sep 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
First off, I won this little dear via GoodReads. Now, having got that out of the way, let me say that I didn't realize this was part of a series. Fortunately, it doesn't matter if you haven't read any of the previous books. The reader will, however, need a firm knowledge of old 1960's spy shows. I feel that Tim Powers and Neil Gaiman have done this sort of thing better, but still a fair to middling read.
Kathleen M
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
By and large, this is what I wanted American Gods ro be. The American folktales (spoiler: John Henry makes me cry) and the character of a city and the presence of ghosts and history and subcumming to a a story were great. Also Elvis. That being said, even on my second or third read, I still had moments where ai consciously decided that I didn't understand the plot and would just go along with the ride. The plot may have some holes but the characters make it worth it.
Oct 30, 2014 marked it as unrated-unfinished
Shelves: arc-first-reads
Apparently, this book is part of a series. Had I known that, i would have started from the beginning. As it stands, this book was much too confusing for me to follow. The premise sounds good: the "anima" of great cities, personifications that walk and talk and interact with people, plus ghosts, a 30 year old mystery, and some good, old-fashioned lovin'. I just couldn't follow it. This book was not for me.
Pauline Zed
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Loved the magic and the setting and the characters, both real and legendary. And as a fan of the show, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. pastiche might have merely been a nice bonus, but the U.N.C.L.E. characters, as well as those from I Spy and The Avengers, are also a very necessary part of the story.
Joe Crow
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Didn't realize until the afterword that this one's a few years old. Was wondering why it read like some of her earlier work, and then the afterword mentioned that it'd been written between '99 and '06. Which also explains why it's set in '02.

Anyway. Good stuff, kinda reminiscent of Tim Power's stuff at times.
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Spies and vampires and the spirits of cities, lost in Las Vegas, in the wreckage left by the Promethean Age books. Fun, although as always I feel like I'm missing half the information she's trying to convey. I only finally figured out the media ghosts when she thanked the fandoms in the afterwards; I hadn't watched some key classic spy TV shows, and had no idea who she was referencing.
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fantasy noir? Something like that - metafiction has always been a favorite of mine, so a story about stories works very well for me. References to 60's television shows will add some depth for those who recognize the characters, but revealing who they are would spoil the fun!
Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very nice. The story evoked and expanded on a story by Fritz Leiber that I remember about the entities lurking around Hoover Dam--Bear goes in a different direction with different characters but the mythos is one that could use more stories. Loved it.
Sparrow Knight
Nov 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
I think meta-fiction must not be my thing. I've read 3 of the Promethean series & I can't say I've enjoyed any of them. I love Bear's Amsterdam series, so I think I'll go back to those.
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Other books in the series

Promethean Age (5 books)
  • Blood and Iron (Promethean Age, #1)
  • Whiskey and Water (Promethean Age, #2)
  • Ink and Steel (Promethean Age, #3)
  • Hell and Earth (Promethean Age, #4)