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Pale Horse Coming (Earl Swagger, #2)
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Pale Horse Coming (Earl Swagger #2)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  4,251 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
Pale Horse Coming, featuring Stephen Hunter’s beloved sniper heroes Earl and Bob Lee Swagger, the first of eleven Swagger thrillers from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

The time is 1951. A smooth-talking Chicago lawyer comes to chat with Sam Vincent, the former prosecutor of Polk County, Arkansas, about a dangerous subject—a big prison for violent black convicts near The
Paperback, 594 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by Pocket Books (first published October 9th 2001)
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May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did just read this, but I may have to concede to this novel the title of My Favorite Stephen Hunter Novel©. Earl’s good buddy Sam Vincent (the lawyer we met in the earlier Black Light...or was it Point of Impact?) has disappeared at the super-mysterious, super-ominous Thebes State Penal Farm (Colored) while on a mission to find a disappeared person for a client. Because Earl is a good friend of Sam’s and just an extremely goodhearted yet utterly badass type of dude he decides to go up to Thebe ...more
Mark Allen
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action, thriller
"Pale Horse Coming" is Stephen Hunter's finest hour. While he is an excellent author who never fails to entertain, most of his other work pales in comparison to this masterpiece which is essentially a retelling of "The Magnificent Seven" filtered through Hunter's mega-macho and gun-centric writing techniques. In a Stephen Hunter novel, justice almost always comes from the barrel of the gun; in this case, it comes from the barrels of multiple guns as Earl Swagger rounds up a bunch of fellow bulle ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gun enthusiasts, Hunter fans.
As the Swagger novels have gone on the quality has declined. Which is a fairly common thing with all long running series. Be it novels, television, movies etc. "Pale Horse Coming" isn't one of Hunter's better novels, but there are aspects that I liked. As others have pointed out this is "Cool Hand Luke" meets the "Magnificent Seven" with a little bit of William Faulkner thrown in for good measure.

The book is written in the style of the tough crime fiction of the 1950's. If you doubt it find your
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carl Rigney
Mythic and elegant and poetical in language, though deadly earnest in its violence and means of dealing with violence, this book just touched me on all kinds of levels more than just the "thriller". It seamlessly blends the myths of the Deep Dark South with that of the cowboy and fast shooters of the West, and I loved how, underlying it all was the root-stock of Oedipus' third play -- Seven Against Thebes, the same stock that upheld "The Magnificent Seven" and "Seven Samurai".

It's odd to read th
Steve Vernon
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be one of my favorite Stephen Hunter books as well as one of my favorite reads. I am a sucker for the old "Magnificent Seven" set-up - which Stephen Hunter uses in this novel with amazing ease. Definitely will raise your testosterone level after a single reading. You will begin to smell funny and thump on your chest at unexpected moments. I recommend this for anyone who wants to read a good old-fashioned no-nonsense shoot-em-up. There is enough in here to please a fan of action, ...more
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very violent book. Part of the violence is to right an injustice where, in the Mississippi of 1951, there is a horrible prison for black men called Thebes State Penal Farm, located in the swamps, almost impossible to reach, except by water. A lawyer friend of Earl Swagger goes there to get some information for a client, and Earl bails him out of trouble, but then can't forget the awful conditions, and rounds up six more gunfighters to go back to Thebes, set the prisoners free, and tear ...more
Carol Storm
Soooooo homoerotic.

Soooo melodramatic.

There are a lot of problems with Earl Swagger. He's supposed to be a "John Wayne type" (not my description, characters in the books actually tell him that to his face -- over and over!) But there are so many ways in which the tough Arkansas lawman never rings true.

How come he's a Southerner who refuses to endorse Civil Rights for blacks, but yet he's always somehow punishing racist whites? It's like he'll do anything for blacks but admit that things have t
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would describe this book as the movies Missing in Action, The Pelican Brief and the Magnificent Seven all rolled into one fantastic story. I picked this book up at a thrift store because it looked interesting. I was greatly surprised. This is a terrific book, with well developed characters. I really liked the fact that Hunter used biographies of real life, well-known gunmen of the 20th century. He changed the last names Elmer Kieth aka: Elmer McKay, Jack O'Conner aka: Jack O'Brien and Audie Mu ...more
Al Datum
I'm on the fence a bit when it comes to Stephen Hunter. On the one hand, I enjoy his writing style and his characters. On the other, his books are never quite what I expect they'll be. From the description of this particular book (main character investigates notorious prison, gets capture, escapes and comes back with a private army to exact his vengeance), I thought the story would read much more like the end of First Blood with John Rambo destroying the town single-handedly. But that's not what ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Believable? Maybe.

I found myself changing my mind about duty to country without question. You would like to think you could support anything your country does (as in the best interest of the country), but this makes you rethink that.

The "mission" of the government meant that everything else was being overlooked. This book showed just what evil can come out when men are being protected from their acts.
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's ok. This would probably appeal more to male readers. I lack the testosterone that's needed to fully appreciate it. AND.... Profanity doesn't bother me, but I do not like seeing GD in my books. If I had a dollar for every time Mr. Hunter inserted it in this story, I could pay off my student loan.
T.W. Barton
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first one of the books about Bob Lee's father that I read. I had read most of the Bob Lee books and never really thought that the books about his father would be as good but I was wrong.

This book is very good and has lost of action and the great story line that you expect from Stephan Hunter.

I highly recommend it for any Bob Lee fans.
David Dalton
As much as I love stories about Bob Lee Swagger, I gotta admit, his father kicks even better ass and he is old school. A great series and I think this one is my favorite of all the Earl books. I love the time period and the characters.
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Earl Swagger is temporarily stuck in an illegal prison deep in the south. He manages to escape with the aid of an old black man he thought was the prison snitch, presumed drowned in the swamp, and promises to return and free all.
He's the Pale Horse of the title.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very excellent contiunation of the Earl Swagger saga. We get to learn a lot more about Sam here as well. Earl is still one of the Baddest Asses around.
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very graphic, but an action packed page turner. Not my typical book, but so happy I read it! If anyone has seen Shooter with Mark Wahlberg, this is by the same author/series.
Jonathan Harrell
Excellent book!! Best Stephen hunter book I've read yet
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
intensely times, offensive....but difficult to put down, and even harder to forget.
Leon Aldrich
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
James Lee Burke is by far my #1 author, ever. But damn if Stephen Hunter might give him a run for the money.
Good but not for everyone.

Stephen Hunter mixes part southern gothic plus western plus Hunter's own macho/gun loving story lines to craft a pretty good action yarn.

Hunter keeps the story moving by going between Earl Swagger's POV and that and Swagger's friend/mentor Sam, a local lawyer. The book culminates (big surprise for a Hunter novel) in a shoot out with an especially violent battle (consider yourself warned-- multiple axes are involved--yes not for the squeamish).

Per usual, Hunter's writ
Loretta Gibson
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hunter-s
Hunter has created a very believable crusader in Earl Swagger.
Sam Vincent, Earl's mentor, has been retained by an attorney to find an heir, who is a black man. The search takes Sam to a prison for blacks deep in the Mississippi swamp. Remember this is Mississippi 1951. As one might expect, Sam doesn't return. So off Earl goes to the rescue. Earl would have had Sam safe at home in no time, but due to Sam ridicules request that Earl kills no one, things go to hell in a hand basket. You have an arm
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I'm not a gun enthusiast. I didn't know the history of the guns or the gunslingers. I suspected it was similar to some movies I'd seen on TV years ago, but so what, all stories borrow from somewhere.

I like it in a story when men are hard and hard hitting and that they like seeing strength in the women around them as well. I like it when injustice is rooted out and the underdogs are vanguished. I like it when there's lots of violence that's done in the work of justice. I like it when that's all w
This runs close to 600 pages of paperback.

All the elements are there, tough men, guns, a righteous mission.

It may not be the book to cut your Stephen Hunter teeth on.

It did not feel as tight as point of impact or black light.

The memory of those fast paced books kept me reading it and also I was interested in the back story of Sam and Earl, having read the books out of sequence.

It is by no means a bad book but somewhere I think perhaps 100 pages could have been removed without too much difficulty
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hunter has created what feels like a 'fairy tale for men.' The archetypes are there: armed men doing battle, a pretty girl or two, several villains worth loathing... all jammed into a true page turner. Good men on a violent mission to right decades of wrong.
Earl Swagger is the kind of man we all wish were were...or at least wish we KNEW! A story of courage, conviction, morality and loyalty.

AND, Hunter manages to throw in some mystery as well as a damned good social message.

As for me, I'm
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Just fabulous! 10 of 10 stars
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With any Swagger novel you know you are going to get some first rate story telling, well defined characters and a bit of a morality tale. Stephen Hunter serves up another winner here. He does a particularly good job of capturing the whole "southern" atmosphere in these novels. The other thing that makes these books great is that while they are clearly targeted at a male audience, the author creates female characters that are very formidable in their own right. I'm certain that with more exposure ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book three times and each time I read it, I discover something new. This one is a keeper!
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous story in all areas: engaging realistic plot, memorable sympathetic characters, vivid intriguing locations, with enough surprises to keep the pages turning.
Stephen Snead
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast paced action.

Not always believable but, entertaining. Kind of like an old cop or western shoot em up. A fast summer read.
Nate Briggs
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this three times - but I think I'd call it a "guilty pleasure".
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
Stephen Hunter is the author of fourteen novels, and a chief film critic at The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
More about Stephen Hunter...

Other Books in the Series

Earl Swagger (3 books)
  • Hot Springs (Earl Swagger, #1)
  • Havana (Earl Swagger, #3)
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