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A Congregation of Jackals

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  794 ratings  ·  123 reviews
One of Oswell's old bank-robbing gang is getting married out in Montana Territory, and the rest of the boys are all invited. But someone else will be there too. Quinlan. He was part of the gang once, but betrayal turned an ally into a bitter enemy, one who will stop at nothing to get his revenge. He and his gunmen will be at the wedding out for blood and to revenge the bet ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Leisure Books
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Melki
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tomorrow morning he would . . . board the continental rail and ride it to the western horizon, where his past awaited him like a dark room filled with bear traps.

Weddings are such tension filled occasions; so much can go wrong. The bride may flub her vows, or maybe when the minister asks anyone to "speak now or forever hold your peace" . . . someone will speak. Or, perhaps . . . an unspeakably evil villain from the groom's past will show up, and slaughter half the guests. Hey, it could happen, a
...more
Still
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No Idea
Recommended to Still by: I was curious after seeing the author's film BONE TOMAHAWK
This is a dark, compelling and ultimately horrifying Western.
It is possibly the most violent novel I've ever read.

If any of Cormac McCarthy's Westerns were a little too gory or violent for you then avoid this novel like you'd avoid putting your hand inside the nest of a Gila monster.

I enjoyed this riveting Western very much but I must admit that when the going got horrific it was almost too intense a read. The depravity of the villains is unforgettably disturbing yet this novel contains remarka
...more
Steve
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

I'm not a fan of westerns, but this was an outstanding book! Well-written, well-plotted, and shocking in its execution. There are some surprising plot twists, too. This is not a feel-good book by any means, but it's probably closer to what the Old West was like in reality rather than some other, more popular books/movies/TV shows.
...more
William
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to William by: williamc@gmail.com
Violent and gruesome, "A Congregation of Jackals" is as modern a take on the Western as No Country for Old Men but one that overlays the standard tropes of the genre with a barbarism that seems believable for its mid-19th century setting and that gives readers a sense that the "lawless" West may have been far less romantic than they imagine. The novel is essentially one long draw toward a brutal climax, but characters along the way are exceptionally well crafted -- particularly the womanizing Di ...more
William M.
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
5+ STARS

Let me first start off by saying that while I am an avid reader, I do not have a lot of experience with Westerns. However, the ones that I have read are not even in the same league as this book. And to be honest, neither is every other book I've read in the last few years, regardless of genre. I expect this book to be on most people's top 10 list of the year, and on some people's top 10 of all time. "Congregation Of Jackals" is that damn good.

What a tremendously groundbreaking and powe
...more
JL Shioshita
It took me months to get through the first three quarters of the book, then one night to get through the rest. That's not because it wasn't a good book or was boring. Those first three quarters were just too tense. I knew something bad was going to happen, like a car wreck in slow motion, like a deer in the headlights. I had to take breaks. I grew familiar with these bad men who tried to do right later in life. Who regretted past mistakes and were trying to redeem themselves in their own ways. T ...more
David Mcintire
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow...what a book. During the first few chapters you notice the rich prose and I almost thought the author was trying a little to hard, but soon you just fall into the story and are enveloped in the wonderfully gritty and and in some cases grotesque scenes. The story moves fast and gripped me from the start. Truly one of the best page turners I have read in a long time. I have heard virtually no hype for this book and was so lucky to come across it. If you want a disturbing, gritty western that ...more
Mitchell
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
It seems pretty clear why Zahler made the jump to screenwriting; his dialogue, sense of scene, and characterization are top notch. The weak spot, in my opinion, is his prose. I am all for the $5 word, but pick your spots, man! In all fairness, I read this immediately after Guthrie's "Big Sky", so the bar may have been set a little high going in. That said, there was enough here to justify checking out his other books. I suspect that his later work will be a bit more polished. ...more
Rachel
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can describe this book in words: astounding, horrifying, gripping, grotesque,redemption, bravery, savagery.

My head is still reeling.

There was a line in the book by a Mrs. Meredith Everston that sums it up perfectly; "That is an extraordinarily evocative chiller."
...more
Brendan Kraus
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Congregation of Jackals from Craig S. Zahler is a masterclass in the western genre. A novel that is a step above the rest. A story that uses many of the western tropes you know, but in new ways.

From it’s opening scene Zahler paints a picture of a coming doom. The opening chapter of the book is an introduction to two key characters and it works as standalone short story. Zahler masterfully racks up the tension until the end. The first half of the book is mostly buildup to an impending wedding.
...more
Rubberboots
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Damn this guy can write. Last year I stumbled across this author and read 'Wraiths of the Broken Land' (which I gave 5*) and then watched Bone Tomahawk (excellent movie). I never knew I would enjoy 'westerns' this much but he makes them super entertaining. I didn't find Jackals as strong as Wraiths, but a really good read. Zahler does not hesitate to stray from the predictable which is what I like. ...more
Joe Adams
PROS;
- Well-rounded characters. Zahler does a solid job of injecting sympathy into most of the lead and secondary characters. Goodstead and Dicky are particularly well written.
- Brutality is as creative as we've come to expect. Crimes well thought out and the sense of peril seems insurmountable at times, building great tension.
- The early scenes where T.W. expels the Frenchman were great.
- Depiction is vivid and unrelenting. Visceral and gorgeously described. Very exciting top read when the acti
...more
Libby
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was thinking that Quentin Tarantino would have a field day with this as a movie. Then I discovered the author, S. Craig Zahler has actually directed a couple of movies himself.
A Congregation of Jackals' is a brutal western, reminiscent in a small way of 'Lonesome Dove.' Although I certainly wouldn't classify it as a romance, one of the central plot elements is a wedding between Beatrice, daughter of T.W. Jefferies, the town sheriff, and reformed outlaw, James Lingham. The story centers around
...more
Dorsi
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, owned-by-me
This book is difficult to rate and review. I don't usually read westerns (those were for my grandfather) however when I originally saw this on goodreads, something kept drawing me to it. It is definitely not your typical western. It is brutal, savage, & graphic. This story had major potential. The premise behind the final product was brilliant. The delivery was decent however it could have been much better. Here's my opinion... (which you must want to know because you are reading my review, lol) ...more
Justin Decloux
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A pressure cooker Western that takes time to build-up every player on the board until it explodes in a storm of gunfire, death and tears. It's all intricately written, suspenseful stuff, that had my heart pounding through my chest. And, this being a Zahler novel it's filled with revolting violence and degradation: Guts are spilled, someone eats two pounds of shit, and a gunfighter has a fish hook shoved down his throat.

But goddamn the racial stuff in the book is deeply troubling. It's all window
...more
Brigette
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, best-titles
There is a small time gang of bank robbers who wind up with the wrong sort of partners. Things go south and the gang leaves that life and go their separate ways. Decades later, one of the gang members is getting married. He invites the entire gang after discovering some of the their old acquaintances are going to be crashing the ceremony.

This is the most gruesome book I've ever read and parts of it were difficult for me to get through. Some imagery will be seared into my brain for a long time. E
...more
Shaun Meeks
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read a western in years, but after seeing Bone Tomahawk by S. Craig Zahler, I was looking forward to reading this. I wasn't disappointed.
The novel is dark and at times pretty gruesome. If you're looking for a happy ending with defined lines of good and bad, you won't find it here. This one has the same tone as Bone Tomahawk with moments that reminded me of the Saint Killer's storyline in Preacher.
All in, this is one of the best books I've read in a while and I can't wait to get my hand
...more
Katherine Tomlinson
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a solid tale of a vengeance ten years in the making. The characters are solid, if not exceptionally original, and the story builds smoothly to the final, fatal confrontation. It is a classic western, and if the genre truly is back, would make a good movie. The writer draws on a lot of iconic western stories (HIGH NOON comes to mind) and it’s clear he has a love of the genre, but the material isn’t as iconic as his sources. It feels … familiar and more than a little predictable
Vincenzo Bilof
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Revenge and love are perhaps two of the most significant (or overused) concepts employed by the bard, Shakespeare. One of pop culture’s most prominent directors, Quentin Tarrantino, uses revenge as a motivation for many of the characters he has brought to live in his films. How does an artist craft a compelling revenge tale? Why is it still popular? Arguably, the most important component to these stories is the characters; the audience has to believe that the character’s lust for vengeance is ju ...more
Brendan C
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My third book by Zahler might be my favorite one yet. A sweeping tale of an old crew of cowboys being forced to come back together for an old friends wedding. Shocking, brutal and surprisingly very sweet, it's the classic tale of not being able to escape one's past. Loved it. ...more
Sam Gor
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a ride. Pun intended.
I don't think I've ever read a western before.
Granted I don't even know if this is filed under the 'western' section or the 'fiction' one. But I digress.

So I read this after watching Bone Tomahawk because that was amazing so I needed to have more stories from Zahler.

I was not disappointed whatsoever.

It is a slow start as you get introduced to characters and at times it feels kinda shallow characterisations but when things finally start going and you start knowing t
...more
Gavin McHugh
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-2019
When a dispersed, but retired bank robbing gang get a wedding invite from one of their own, they journey back together for the first time since their younger days. Unfortunately, with their rendezvous plans there are also malevolent things in the air.
Once again I have been completely drawn in by S Craig Zahler's style and prose. Nominally centring around one of the gang, Oswell, you nevertheless feel like you have been given a complete picture of all of the other characters in the story and from
...more
Thomas
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was not the typical western paperback which I normally read, and I have read hundreds. There is no one main person in which the story revolves around. As the title says...a congregation of jackals. Several share the spotlight and are equally given space to evolve. Certainly, a few are a bit more ghoulish than the others, but of the two main factions, they are all bad guys at some point in the book. I enjoyed the story, plot and the players. All exceeded my limited expectations. As a we ...more
Horror DNA
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steve-pattee
I cannot understate how merciless S. Craig Zahler's A Congregation of Jackals is. There is a point in the book, where after describing what a particular tribe of Native Americans does to their captives, the characters meet up with chief of said tribe. It’s so full of tension, I literally felt an anxiety attack coming on and I had to briefly put down the book and use the techniques I’m familiar with to reel it in (and by literally, I mean it in the true definition of the word, not the figurativel ...more
Deba Jyoti Khawas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brett Tharp
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Precisely like his other western novel, “Wraiths of the Broken Land”, Zahler’s “A Congregation of Jackals” is tremendously brutal, occasionally unwieldy, often captivating, yet deceptively simplistic. He tends to dramatically overwrite his narration and description in a way that can be annoying (as well as a few glaring spelling errors), but largely, both his western-horror novels are vicious yet satisfying works that I’d recommend to anyone with a strong stomach. Each follows a suspiciously sim ...more
Shiela Rozich
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I put the book down a few times because I was too afraid of what happens next; but not for long because it urged me on. And I was rewarded with a terrific read!
Difficult to classify this into a single genre - chilling like a noir/horror, suspenseful like a psychological thriller, a western set in the late 1800’s and much more. The many colorful characters are multi dimensional although the book is a little too short to develop them more fully. The violence/gore is very well balanced with humor.
...more
JasmF
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I came to Craig Zahler, the author, through Craig Zahler, the filmmaker. I was so impressed with his film "Bone Tomahawk" that I googled him and discovered he was an author and screenwriter before he was a director. I quickly read as many of his books as I could get my hands on, and this was the first I was able to obtain. I've read plenty of westerns in the past (obviously I am a fan of the genre if I managed to find an obscure film like "Bone Tomahawk"!) and this one did not disappoint. A litt ...more
Perry
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gets off to an extraordinarily rough start, and for the first 70-odd pages, I feared I was going to actually loathe this, but then a startling flashback hits and something clicks, and this becomes maybe the most emotionally mature work of Zahler's career. Layered, nuanced, heartbreaking, and of course, bloodcurdling. The last 100 pages are basically perfect. ...more
Joe Adams
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
PROS;
- Well-rounded characters. Zahler does a solid job of injecting sympathy into most of the lead and secondary characters. Goodstead and Dicky are particularly well written.
- Brutality is as creative as we've come to expect. Crimes well thought out and the sense of peril seems insurmountable at times, building great tension.
- The early scenes where T.W. expels the Frenchman were great.
- Depiction is vivid and unrelenting. Visceral and gorgeously described. Very exciting top read when the acti
...more
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"S. Craig Zahler is certain to become one of the great imaginers of our time." ― Clive Barker

Novelist S. Craig Zahler is also the screenwriter, director, and musical co-composer for the movies, Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, and Dragged Across Concrete.
His debut graphic novel, Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus (which he wrote and illustrated) and his crime book The Slanted Gut
...more

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