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Sunday, May 10, 2015

OLD NATHAN by David Drake

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. 

Photo by DWD
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 with some magical powers, including the ability to talk with animals. 

Fifty years later, he is living in Tennessee and serves as the local area's potion-maker and a resolver of problems of last resort. He also can cast some spells. He does not understand the powers, but he understands that the spells he cast do not always resolve the problems the way that his clients hope.

The book consists of five inter-related short stories. The best story by far is the last one but you really cannot understand it without reading the other four and they are pretty boring. The stories are long on descriptions of Old Nathan traveling by donkey and dire warnings about using magic but I just never really bought into the characters. Nathan was intentionally stand-offish and mysterious and difficult to relate to. The locals all around him were rubes or just difficult to like or even be interested in.

This book can be found here on Amazon.com: Old Nathan.

I rate this book 2 stars out of 5.

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