Merkabah Rider: High Planes Drifter
Written by: Edward M. Erdelac
This review was done using a pdf graciously provided by the author
I have always been a fan of the spaghetti western genre of movies. My father got me into watching them as a kid and the experience indelibly left its mark on me. As a young man, I found this love of the west shared among many of my Air Force brothers and sisters. Later, I became aware of the Jewish faith, having grown up in the bible belt. I will admit to always being very interested in Judaism, specifically the myths and legends built within the religion tied to Jewish Mysticism of golems, Kaballah etc. While I would never claim to have even as working knowledge of such things, it still is something that has always intrigued me. Merkabah Rider fuses western and Judaism firmly together in a tour de force of epic proportions.
Merkabah Rider is series of four novellas and one short story that embodies visceral action with mysticism and gunslinging to great effect. All this is done in a style evocative of Robert E Howard meets Max Brand action that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat page after page. In short, I would love to see this turned into a netflix series or even movies. Its just that good that it deserves to be in different mediums just to get more of a fan base! What is even better is the fact that all these stories are part of a larger story arc that has the rider hunting a vicious ex-member of his order that seeks nothing less than the destruction of all that is sacred.
The Blood Libel
Our first glimpse of the Hasidic Gunslinger pits him against both the ignorance of a small town and machinations of a sinister cult. Can the Rider tell friend from foe in time to save the small sect of followers within the small town. Especially before the locals decide to lynch the whole lot of them out of ignorance.
The Dust Devils
The rider seeks shelter from a horrid dust storm in the border town of Polvo Arrido. His hunt for Adon continuing, he finds himself drawn deeper still into the sorrows of the town’s residents whom are being terrorized by local bandits. Can the rider put aside his quest in order to help out the less fortunate and free this town from tyranny? In many ways this story reminded me of the movie Fistful of Dollars.
Hell’s Hired Gun
The rider finds a small chapel and village filled with nothing but death. The only survivor a battered and bloodied Franciscan monk who recants a tale of a man who in losing his family lost himself. The last words to cryptically call out the name of the town Gadara. As the rider puts the pieces of this bloody mystery together we even he have the strength to confront something that kills not for pleasure or pain but simply for the sake of doing so.
The Nightjar Women
The town of Tip Top stands empty of the laughter of children. Known for its loose ladies of the night, the rider finds himself drawn to seek comforts he would normally deny himself. But when the very town is run by a much more ancient evil, can the rider find a way to escape from its grip before it is too late?
The Shomer Express
The final short story has the Rider taking a train and coming to the aid of a fellow Jewish traveler transporting his parents bodies for final rest. However, something has other plans and corpses are defiled and ravaged. Can the Rider figure out what is feasting upon the dead?
The Merkabah Rider: High Planes Drifter was a dark, moody action packed trip into the weird west. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and fully intend to find more in the series. I highly recommend it to anyone that likes Lovecraft, Howard or heck even just westerns period. You will not be disappointed. The author’s writing style is very evocative of dime store novels, giving just enough flowery verbiage to paint the picture without bogging down the action. So pick up a copy today!
Thanks for reading,