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Old Nathan

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  917 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The forces of evil are poised to prey on the folk of the hamlets and hollows: witches, demons, and red-handed men—but first they'll have to overcome Old Nathan the Wizard.

He doesn't claim much for his magical powers, but they're real enough for what they are—and besides, he hasn't forgotten how to use his long flintlock rifle ....

Enter the gritty, r
Paperback, 228 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Baen Books
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Joe Burke Not in the least. While I dislike when dialog is written in untranslated foreign languages, I don't mind dialect at all. For some reason, the voices…moreNot in the least. While I dislike when dialog is written in untranslated foreign languages, I don't mind dialect at all. For some reason, the voices in my head only have accents if the words on the page have accents.(less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  917 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
There is a big difference between copying and paying tribute. A copy steals the ideas of a better work with no interest in finding your own voice. A tribute is a work that pays homage to an artist and while using deliberate similarities, strengthens the original by adding new dimensions to the ideas.

Old Nathan is a tribute to the Silver John stories of Manley Wade Wellman. David Drake uses a similar idea and setting as Wellman's stories of a magic-savvy wanderer in the Carolina mountain. Yet Dr/>Old
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Like Karl Edward Wagner, David Drake was a close friend of Manly Wade Wellman during that author's final years, and this series of linked novellas about white and black magic in the Carolinas is very much a tribute to that friendship. It is a pity that the book is not better known, because I believe that a lot of people who enjoy Wellman's stories of John the Balladeer would enjoy the distinctive and in no wise derivative flavor of this one as well.

These are quite different from anyt
Apr 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Not ten pages, despite what Goodreads says - more like 150 pages. The eponymous character is by turns heroic, cunning, despicable and pitiable. His folksy 1800's dialect can be irritating at times, but it's believable, as are his neighbours. Some of his interactions, particularly with animals, are really satisfying, the adventures are exciting and the end is brilliant.
MeiLin Miranda
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I got this from the Baen Free Library and hadn't been too optimistic. Drake's military sci-fi books leave me cold but for the "Lt Leary" series, and I'm often uncertain about that series as well.

But "Old Nathan"--now here's a book. Baen's description isn't fair to the book; it's not alternate history at all. For lack of a better term, it's "rural fantasy."

It's set between the Revolution and Civil War, in the hill country of Tennesee, where Old Nathan is his area's "cunnin
Sep 09, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a complete divergence from anything I've read by Drake before. It's neither SF, nor military, nor even epic fantasy. 

This is a collection of five short stories about Old Nathan, a Tennessee pioneer in the late 1820s. Nathan fought in the American revolution, where he unfortunately lost his genitals at the battle of King's Mountain (which is a historical event). Apparently the loss of his "knackers" was offset by gaining the ability to perform magic and talk to animals. Talking to animals leads to hi/>
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a title I was unfamiliar with. I knew that David Drake was friends with Manly Wade Wellman but I was unaware that Drake had written a homage to his late friend's Silver John stories. I became aware of Old Nathan because a friend shared it here on Goodreads. And it just so happened that Amazon had it for free on kindle at that same time...

The setting is rural Tennessee and the vernacular of the conversations can be a trial until you get a grip on it.

Old Nathan is a recluse,
Dayl Thomas
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really good story. Read it while I was stuck in the hospital recovering from an illness. I'm still undecided about David Drake, but reading this give him big brownie points with me. It's a short book, only 149 pages long, but it does a lot with those 149 pages. Don't pay any attention to the cover; though pretty, it has nothing to do with the story save for telling you the book is about magic.
Old Nathan is a wizard in Tennessee in the late 1820's to early 1830's. The book looks at a year in h
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it
This here were one uv the strangest fant’sy books I’ve ever read. Sort uv a country-western tale with a bit of magic. Now I ain’t much uv a fan uv thet country-western stuff, so I had some trouble gettin’ into the book et first. This is rilly more a collection uv five related stories thin one single story. The stories started off plum silly, what with the main plot uv the first one bein’ about a bullfight an’ all. But them characters, they stuck in my head they did. Most times I put down the boo ...more
Eric Tanafon
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed 'Old Nathan' more than anything I've read in quite a while. These stories were such a pleasure to read, I'm buying a print edition as well as the e-book, which is currently free on Amazon. I liked the Silver John stories, but these are even better. Old Nathan is gruff and bitter, a Revolutionary War veteran and do-good curmudgeon who helps people with their supernatural troubles as long as he's paid (but doesn't ask for much). One of his powers is that he can speak to and understand an ...more
John Allgood
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book that appears to be a series of short stories merged into a book. An interesting blend of magic and the early American frontier.
Al Lock
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book. It reminds me of other tales from the era that it is set in. Long enough after the War for Independence that people look at the one veteran of King's Mountain among them and tell stories about his having fought with Andy Jackson at New Orleans. Set in the backwoods of America at a time when magic was believed in and people were simple - most good, but some bad, maybe real bad.
It's a good read. You have to deal with dialogue that is written in the patois of the era and region -
Michael D Wardren
silver John with an attitude

This novel was absolutely wonderful. Moments throughout of amazing conflict and sacrifice, one of the most human characters I've seen in literature, and an ending that jumps straight out of the stories I heard as a kid in West Virginia. Old Nathan is the devil's master, and the subject of a fine book to boot.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW! I have read many of David Drake’s stories over the years, this is quite a departure from his military science fiction. Old Nathan is part sage and part madmen. You are never sure which is who… He is a very believable character with wisdom and witt.
I was intrigued by this excursion into the strange. Best read of the year.
Bernadette Hutton
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the language put you off

Took a bit to get into. The language is not proper English all the time but with a little practice you can understand it. A bit strange as I could not work out where this is meant to take place of when. I liked the madness within the book which ultimately lead to goodness.
John Adams
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
A somewhat fun, but mostly unsurprising, series of episodes about an old wizard in the backwoods of the antebellum south.
Drake's tribute to his friend Manley Wade Wellman. A decent tale of a magical American frontier.
Sep 08, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Why I didn't finish this: I wasn't feeling it. Not sure if I'd try again.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book to read now, because it was relatively short and because it has a great cover by Larry Elmore, who is by far one of my favorite fantasy artists. (I’m pretty sure the cover is not meant to represent anything remotely happening in the book.)

It was a little odd to read this while reading The Old Gods Waken. Both are written in a backwoods patois, but it’s a different one, and handled differently. Old Nathan is not written in first-person, so most of the dialect is confined to people talk
Erin Penn
Old Nathan by David Drake is a collection of stories about a cunning (witchy) man located in the Carolinas about fifty years after the revolutionary war strung together in a novel-type package but easily read separately. Old Nathan is the person a body goes to when you've dun run out of all other options. His price is high. Mostly swallowing yer pride but he do speak to animals and does strange things, and maybe in league with the Devil.

The writing is in the dialect language of the s
Andrea Ika
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
My rating :4 stars
The forces of evil are poised to prey on the folk of the hamlets and hollows: witches, demons, and red-handed men—but first they'll have to overcome Old Nathan the Wizard.
He doesn't claim much for his magical powers, but they're real enough for what they are—and besides, he hasn't forgotten how to use his long flintlock rifle ....
Enter the gritty, realistic wor
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fantasy
This one book is really five novellas with a strong connection and overarching elements. Essentially, the story revolves around an old man that lives in rural Tennessee. Ever since a gruesome war accident left him castrated, his recompense is a unique ability to communicate with all animals while possessing some other minor mystical powers. Old Nathan becomes a loner and is known as something of a witch or wizard by the countryside inhabitants.

At first the author's attempt to capture
James Pratt
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A wizard having adventures in the post-Revolutionary War American colonies. An unusual combination of genre and setting, but it works. This collection of four long-short stories (or short long-short stories) about the backwoods wizard known as Old Nathan is imaginative and engaging. Old Nathan is no Gandalf but his powers are real enough. He can speak with animals, cast curses on those deserving, and would face the Devil himself to save an innocent soul (which he in fact does). I really like the ...more
May 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 1991 by Baen Books

David Drake, a science fiction author who usually specializes in tales of high-tech fighting told from the grunt's point of view changes pace with Old Nathan , a tale of backwoods folk magic.

Set in the the 1830s in rural Tennessee, this book features Old Nathan, often called the "cunning man". Old Nathan suffered a life-changing injury during the battle of Kings Mountain in the Revolutionary War. As he recovered, he discovered that he had been gifted wit
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wanted to quit this book so many times but am cursed with an affliction of being tormented by abandoned books.

I liked the ending. It had a good twist, but getting there wasn't worth it for me. The dialog is written in a "phonetic" vernacular that makes it really miserable to read. You don't find out till the middle of he book that its set in central TN which would have helped immensely with deciphering the generated spellings of words.

It's written as a series of loosely
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable! and very well written. The main character is clever and fully realized, and the ending was very satisfactory. I didn't find the dialect distracting; by the middle of the book, I no longer noticed it. It did make the characters feel real. A couple word choices here and there that were bothersome.
I haven't read the author it is a tribute to, but it reminded me of the early Alvin Maker stories in cleverness. No overarching destiny here though! Just a good story, complete and entire
Hikes in Rain
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Drake is a fine writer, but his chosen genre of military stories just aren't my style. This one, however, is a breakout from his usual writing, and is right up my ally. Old Nathan is a wizard. He can use magic, and hold conversations with the animals. As the series of related short stories progresses, we discover that his powers were obtained at a great cost during the Revolutionary War. In addition to his magic, he also has his trusty old flintlock, which even at his advanced age he can sti ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
I read two of the stories, but just couldn't get into it. It's not that the stories are bad. The archaic backwoods English is just too irritating and distracting. I tried to get over it, but couldn't. Even stuff actually written in the 1800's is easier to read than this. I mean, kudos to the author for trying to do something different, but it doesn't add to the story, and just doesn't work for me. He still seems like a good writer though, so I will definitely try some of his other works.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book. It was recommended to me by my father and once I started reading I couldn't stop.
I loved the colloquial language, and the command that the main character had in every situation. I also really liked the way that magic was described and that it put us in a real world with real things, not a brand new land that we have to get used to.
If you like Sci/Fi Fantasy stuff, give this a try.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a fine collection of five linked stories inspired by the work of Manly Wade Wellman. The Goodreads heading lists it as 150 pages long, but my mass-market-sized paperback is 228; I'll assume that I have the same one as everyone else does. Anyway, the "mountain" dialog is a bit think in spots, but it's a fine book. Drake is constantly labeled as -the- military sf guy, but he's written very successfully in many other genres; in this one it's history and horror/fantasy.
Clark Wierda
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A tale in 5 stories set in rural Tennessee somewhat after the War of 1812.

The dialogue is in dialect and can be a take a bit to thread your way threw, but it does add to the texture of the story. Any of the stories can be read on their own except maybe the last. (I had read a couple of the middle stories before.)

This is very different from the usual Drake story. I found it an easy read except for some of the dialogue as noted above. I did not see the final twist coming.
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Goodreads Librari...: correct page count ISBN 0671720848 1 12 Jan 30, 2018 02:11AM  

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David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre.