Book Cover
Title Old Nathan
Series ---
Author David Drake
Cover Art ---
Publisher Baen Books - 1991
First Printing Baen Books - 1991
Category Fantasy
Warnings None

Main Characters

Old Nathan, Cat, Mule, Spanish King, Bully Ransden, Ellie Ransden

Main Elements Wizards

Five years after the American Revolution, magic is loose in the backwoods.

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 world of Old Nathan, a backwoodsman who talks to animals and says he'll face The Devil himself-and who in the end will have to face The Devil in very fact.

Baen Free Library

Well, I'm not sure who drew the cover art...but it doesn't really have anything to do with the book. There are no freaky scarecrows or wild witch women.

What the books is, is a collection of four short stories, though they can also be thought of as self-contained chapters in a single story. What made this book unique was that all the dialog was in a Tennessee dialect, so lots of "I reckons" and the like, I know that can drive people crazy, but I thought it was a key part of the book.

I really loved how Old Nathan could talk to the animals, and how the nature of each animal came through in their conversations. How the mule could be stubborn and grumpy, how the cat could be sneaky and malicious, how the bull just wanted to fight, and how the squirrels couldn't keep a conversation going longer than a sentence before losing track of what they were talking about. And of course, all with the accent.

The origin of Old Nathan's powers were also rather unique, and also that the magic was limited. He wasn't an all powerful wizard, but he had his skills and he could do something pretty interesting things with them. And as a character, he's a grumpy old hermit, but with a soft spot in his heart...though sometimes it was less about helping out the weak then making a point with the strong to not mess with him, altruistic he wasn't, and yet you couldn't help liking him at least a little. The banter between him and his animals was priceless.

All in all, it was an entertaining book, perfect for a free download to read on my eReader while commuting back and forth from work.

Posted: May 2015


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