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Monday, May 23, 2016

Brings the Lightning by Peter Grant

Castalia House is very pleased to announce the publication of a new Western novel, Book 1 in The Ames Archives, Brings the Lightning, by Peter Grant.

When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side? Where can Johnny Reb go when he can't go home?

He can go out West, where the land is hard, where there is danger on every side, and where no one cares for whom you fought – only how well you can do it.

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. But in his way stand bushwhackers, bluecoats, con men, and the ever-restless Indians. And perhaps most dangerous of all, even more dangerous than the cruel and unforgiving land, is the temptation of the woman whose face he can't forget.

When you can’t go home again – go West!


Earlier this year, Peter Grant, the author of The Maxwell Saga and The Laredo Trilogy, happened to mention that he was interested in reviving the classic Western, and was, in fact, engaged in writing one. While the thought of publishing a Western was appealing, my initial impression was that Castalia House had more than enough on its plate attempting to revive classic science fiction and fantasy, and besides, I've always been more of a Louis L'Amour fan than a particular fan of the genre.

But then it occurred to me that for many Western civilizationists who love liberty, the Western is central to our conception of ourselves, and moreover, that there was very likely a connection between the SJW infestation in SF/F and the loss of interest in the Western genre by the mainstream publishers. As we've seen everywhere from computer games to comics and RPGs, it is all one big cultural war.

And then there is the fact that Fair Blows the Wind is one of my favorite novels in any genre.

So, I got in touch with Peter, told him that Castalia would love to get on board with the Western revival, and offered to publish what I learned was not merely the novel that turned out to be Brings the Lightning, but was the first book in a series about a man named Walter Ames, a Confederate who finds that he can't return home to the farm in Tennessee after the Civil War. Peter is a man of a vast and varied experience, and it shows in his writing; moreover, he is a stickler for historical research, especially where firearms are concerned.

If you have a soft spot for Westerns, or you are, like me, a L'Amour fan, I am confident you will enjoy the adventures of Mr. Walt Ames. Brings the Lightning is 229 pages, retails for $4.99, and is available only on Amazon. New Release subscribers should check their emails for the customary free bonus book offer.

From the early reviews:
  • Brings the Lightning is an excellent revival of the western genre popularized by the likes of Louis L'Amour and Zane Gray in years past. 
  • The gun nuts among his fans will be delighted at the myriad details about firearms he includes, deftly weaving them into the tale as his main character comes to depend on them for his livelihood and defense on the dangerous trip West. 
  • I found the novel to be on a par with the early L'Amour works such as Killoe, Fallon, Radigan, Hondo and Kilkenny. Very much worth reading.
  • The storyline is L'Amouresque, but the writing style is much better. L'Amour told great stories, but let's face it, some of his prose really clunked in places, whereas Grant's is very smooth. 

UPDATE: Peter Grant's own announcement of his first Western is here. It's interesting to learn that the genre was so popular with the South African military.

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53 Comments:

Anonymous malcolm May 23, 2016 3:19 AM  

As unrealistic as it is, William W. Johnstone's Last Mountain Man Series (the early books, not the later ones which were obviously written by someone else who seemingly hadn't bothered to read the earlier ones) was instrumental in forming my libertarian beliefs.

Don't underestimate the power of a good book, and especially a Western, where personal responsibility and libertarianism really shine.

Blogger Horn of the Mark May 23, 2016 4:48 AM  

My dad was one of those kids of the 50s that grew up steeped in cowboy stories before the Western genre was fenced in by political correctness. Never clicked for me, and I thought of the genre as a relic. But I've been coming around to the romance as I get older. For Americans in particular, the Western is part of our cultural DNA as much as books of chivalry, and the quixotic appeal is just as real. It recalls an idea of America that's worth remembering if we're to keep any sense of identity.

I'll pick this up and send it to my dad as well. Firearms accuracy is no small matter to him, so I'm glad to hear the author is attentive.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY May 23, 2016 4:55 AM  

Peter writes excellent stuff, God bless him.
Vox, are you interested in Biker fiction ?

Blogger VD May 23, 2016 5:12 AM  

Vox, are you interested in Biker fiction?

No, and I didn't even know such a thing existed beyond Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I think one new genre will suffice for the time being.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY May 23, 2016 5:35 AM  

Just askin'. Zen and the art is some pretty boring shit if you ask me. Pirate stuff, you game ?

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 23, 2016 7:04 AM  

I've enjoyed a good Western, I just happen to like science fiction more. Glad to see someone is trying to breath life back into that corpse.

I think the genre has two problems at the moment. One good and one bad.

1. A need for historic accuracy in the minutia. Whereas before you could just make shit up. That's just modern requirement for authenticity, (and the main reason I can't write a western).

2. A perceived need by publishers to make sermons on the evils of white men. If you are making an old fashioned kind of Western where whites aren't evil and America isn't a cancer on the world stage, it will never make it past the gate keepers in Manhattan.

Blogger Ahazuerus May 23, 2016 7:07 AM  

Purchased on your recommendation, Vox. You're racking up a fair bit of space on my digital bookshelf.

Much obliged.

Blogger VD May 23, 2016 7:11 AM  

Purchased on your recommendation, Vox. You're racking up a fair bit of space on my digital bookshelf.

That's good to hear. We appreciate the strong support we get from you guys; you know we're not ever going to shovel mediocre channel stuffers at you.

A perceived need by publishers to make sermons on the evils of white men.

That's not going to happen in any Castalia House Western. There might be the occasional sermon about how noble and smart and handsome the American Indians are, of course, but that's just good sense.

Blogger Dave May 23, 2016 7:18 AM  

Ok I'll bite. Been a long, long time since I read any L'Amour. Thank you CH and Peter for the bonus offer.

Now what do we have to do to get Rolf's sequel and RTRH2? Petition, bribery, extortion; what's it going to take?

Anonymous Instasetting May 23, 2016 7:23 AM  

Cool. Nice cover. I was more of a L'Amour fan than anything else....say, maybe CH could find a way to finish the adventures of Kerbouchard as he invades India...the first was 'The Walking Drum'.

Blogger sconzey May 23, 2016 7:27 AM  

Ahazuerus wrote:You're racking up a fair bit of space on my digital bookshelf.

Likewise. The great thing about Castalia is I can blindly pick a book at random, buy it, and be confident I'll enjoy it.

it occurred to me that for many Western civilizationists who love liberty, the Western is central to our conception of ourselves
Yes and no. For many of us in Europe, while we value liberty and admire the rugged individualism of the settlers of the American West, the Western has no special cultural resonance to us.

But the genre is definitely ripe for resurgence-- just look at the cult popularity of Firefly!

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY May 23, 2016 7:39 AM  

"When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side? Where can Johnny Reb go when he can't go home?"
Well put.

Blogger S1AL May 23, 2016 7:41 AM  

@sconzey - Well, L'Amour also wrote "The Walking Drum", which is the same base story, but set in Europe. It's also one of my favorites of his.

Blogger Nate May 23, 2016 7:53 AM  

Absolutely excellent news. The Western is a form of literature that harkens back to the explosion stage of our empire's lifecycle... and the embrace of the traits of people of that time could go a long way to softening the coming crash.

Anonymous Goodnight May 23, 2016 8:00 AM  

I'm a huge fan of the west and westerns (as my handle here might imply). I was also fortunate enough to be one of the early reviewers of this book, and I absolutely loved it - so much so that I just bought a copy to support the author. I'm looking forward to the paperback version so I can send it to my dad.

Blogger Dave May 23, 2016 8:13 AM  

There might be the occasional sermon about how noble and smart and handsome the American Indians are, of course, but that's just good sense.

In my best ex-ESPN Chris Carter voice; "C'mon man!"
Now who edited this thing anyway?

Blogger Nick S May 23, 2016 8:21 AM  

Finally, someone who appreciates firearms.

Anonymous J Delcano May 23, 2016 8:22 AM  

Although I have never read a Western in my four decades of life, I just purchased Brings the Lightning. Why? I have grown to trust Castalia House to publish interesting and well-written works of fiction and non-fiction. On the other hand, for fiction I have been burned in recent years (decades?) by publishers and reviewers pushing unoriginal or annoying works that leave me with a feeling that I have wasted my time and money. I will take a chance on something new from Castalia House. Keep up the standards and thoughtful works, and Castalia House will continue to receive my dollars.

Blogger Gaiseric May 23, 2016 8:24 AM  

While the thought of publishing a Western was appealing, my initial impression was that Castalia House had more than enough on its plate attempting to revive classic science fiction and fantasy, and besides, I've always been more of a Louis L'Amour fan than a particular fan of the genre.

Westerns and sci-fi don't have to be mutually exclusive. Yeah, yeah... Cowboys & Aliens was a pretty dumb movie, but the idea of syncretic genre fiction has always been appealing.

A need for historic accuracy in the minutia. Whereas before you could just make shit up. That's just modern requirement for authenticity, (and the main reason I can't write a western).

Robert E. Howard created the Hyborian Age setting specifically to address this; he liked to write (and was pretty good at it) historical swashbuckling pulp fiction, but he found both the historical minutiae occasionally tedious, he hated being found out by his readers in a minor error, and it bugged him that aspects of the historical setting that would be fun to combine might be anachronistic. So... voila! He renamed a bunch of cultures with transparently obvious names, combined them in an entirely new setting and put Conan smack dab in the middle of it. I've long thought that doing something similar, except with the Golden Age of Piracy, the Old West, maybe the swashbuckling era of the Musketeers, etc. all thrown together would be tons of fun too.

For many of us in Europe, while we value liberty and admire the rugged individualism of the settlers of the American West, the Western has no special cultural resonance to us.

Not suggesting that this would necessary have cultural resonance, but I've also long thought that reviving the Ostern would be fun. It developed more of a "communist propaganda version of the Western" feel over time, but setting it a bit earlier during the time of the Tsarist expansions eastward could get rid of that. Would the story of an Austrian soldier following the War of the Third Coalition who goes eastward, falls in with the Cossacks, and eventually ends up a frontiersman in Russian Alaska fighting Tlingit Indians and striking it rich with the discovery of a gold mine be a great story? I think it could be.

Blogger VD May 23, 2016 8:47 AM  

I have grown to trust Castalia House to publish interesting and well-written works of fiction and non-fiction.

I appreciate your being willing to take a flyer on something new with us. Let us know what you think. We will strive to continue to be worthy of that trust.

Blogger James Dixon May 23, 2016 9:04 AM  

> If you have a soft spot for Westerns, or you are, like me, a L'Amour fan, I am confident you will enjoy the adventures of Mr. Walt Ames. Brings the Lightning is 229 pages, retails for $4.99, and is available only on Amazon.

Damn it, Vox. You know I don't have enough spare money for this right now. You had to mention L'Amour, didn't you? :) Fortunately someone in the household is already on the mailing list.

> There might be the occasional sermon about how noble and smart and handsome the American Indians are, of course, but that's just good sense.

Given the current evidence, I'd have difficulty arguing against that point. :)

Blogger Phillip George May 23, 2016 9:06 AM  

Gaiseric, "John Carter" was a combo Western and SciFi. And very well done.
http://genesismission.4t.com/dinosaurs/Pteradactyl.jpg
http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/cryptidz/images/c/c6/Pterodactyl.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20131027012030
http://vividvisuals.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Thunderbird-tombstone-damage-flat-01-539x383.jpg

Maybe cowboys had more open minds about what's out there?

Blogger lowercaseb May 23, 2016 9:07 AM  

I wish my papa was still around. He would have LOVED this series. When I was a teen he gave me a lot of L'Amour which I dutifully skimmed and pooh poohed, because like most teenage scifi omegas...if it didn't have the pointy ears of elves or vulcans in it, I wasn't interested.

When dad passed, I've started reading his western collection. I've been hooked. To me, the Western is just as a strong vehicle as SciFi to communicate a message that can't be said in the mainstream.

Especially nowadays. We need to preach the message that we need to toughen up as individuals and as a nation.

However, politics aside...I'm looking forward to having a new story to lose myself in

Blogger James Dixon May 23, 2016 9:17 AM  

Oh, and Vox, it's Zane Grey, not Zane Gray.

Blogger CarpeOro May 23, 2016 9:38 AM  

My father never did well in public school and didn't think he was smart enough for college. He joined the Army at the end of the Korean War and found that his devouring of pulp Westerns had given him a decent vocabulary, leading to his being the first in his family to go to college. I grew up watching Westerns with him so I have always enjoyed them.



By the by, the Magnificent Seven remake is in theaters this year. Replacing Yul Brenner - Denzel Washington. Replacing the Mexican bandits and villagers - white bandits and villagers. Just saw the trailer this weekend. I think I'll stick to the original and the Seven Samurai.

Blogger Gaiseric May 23, 2016 9:46 AM  

Phillip George wrote:Gaiseric, "John Carter" was a combo Western and SciFi. And very well done.
Not really. I mean, the first two chapters started out in the same setting as would a western, but that's really nothing more than a framing device, after which the story becomes completely not a Western at all.

One could argue, I suppose, that it explores similar themes as a Western, maybe. But I'm thinking of a much more hybridized experience than A Princess of Mars.

Blogger The Other Robot May 23, 2016 9:52 AM  

Whoa. A Louis L'Amour fan to boot!

Blogger Sheila4g May 23, 2016 9:57 AM  

The only Western I've ever read was Lonesome Dove (unless you want to count all the Little House books!), but like others I'll take a chance on a Castalia House publication. The theme of a Confederate soldier knowing "you can't go home again" is appealing - hoping the gun accuracy will appeal to my son so I can buy him a copy.

Blogger Sheila4g May 23, 2016 10:00 AM  

I already bought and enjoyed "Brings the Knife." Can I gift the free download to my kid?

Blogger The Other Robot May 23, 2016 10:10 AM  

Hmmm, is Gordon Dickson's Chantry Guild a reference to Louis L'Amour?

Blogger CarpeOro May 23, 2016 10:13 AM  

Oh, regarding REH - he wrote sotries in Western, Fight/boxing, etc. Not knowing all the minutia of each genre I simply enjoyed them for the stories.

Blogger VD May 23, 2016 10:14 AM  

Can I gift the free download to my kid?

Sure. It's DRM-free.

Blogger Sir Thermite May 23, 2016 10:32 AM  

Purchased and looking forward to reading. The last of what few Westerns I've read was Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. This looks a lot more enjoyable and much less nihilistic.

Blogger Were-Puppy May 23, 2016 10:46 AM  

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold.
--

That's all I needed to see. I'm in :P

Who did the cover art? I like it. I was about to embark on learning that style a few years ago before medical issues shut me down.

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 23, 2016 10:48 AM  

It's interesting to learn that the genre was so popular with the South African military.

Interesting but not entirely surprising. In some ways South Africa is an odd alternate history version of the United States.

Blogger Natalie May 23, 2016 11:01 AM  

I grew up on classic western movies - Stagecoach, The Big Country, Bend of the River, etc. Haven't read many, but this looks interesting.

Blogger pyrrhus May 23, 2016 11:02 AM  

I love a good Western, I'll buy it...

Blogger Heaving Bosoms of Liberty May 23, 2016 11:37 AM  

Were-Puppy wrote:Who did the cover art? I like it. I was about to embark on learning that style a few years ago before medical issues shut me down.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-lookout-frederic-remington.html

Anonymous Jill May 23, 2016 11:46 AM  

I love Westerns.

Anonymous Huckleberry May 23, 2016 12:26 PM  

Purchased and looking forward to reading. The last of what few Westerns I've read was Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. This looks a lot more enjoyable and much less nihilistic.

Of course.
Remove the moral structure from a Western and you have nothing at all, except the imposition of a farcical post-modernism sensibility on a place and time completely alien to contemporary navel-gazing amorality.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 23, 2016 12:31 PM  

...the embrace of the traits of people of that time could go a long way to softening the coming crash.

Completely agree. There was a blend of individualism and community demanded by the landscape. It'll be demanded again soon.

As far as Westerns vs Sci-Fi vs Fantasy (vs Pirate stuff too for that matter)... all have an element of adventure and discovery at the heart. Castalia House - where you can rediscover adventure.

Well done.

Anonymous Bob May 23, 2016 1:55 PM  

I enjoy westerns, but my dad absolutely loves them. When the paperback drops, I've got Christmas all sewn up.

Anonymous mo-man May 23, 2016 2:04 PM  

Never a fan of westerns until the past couple years whenI started reading old westerns and listening to the public domain works on librivox during long drives. When I went looking for newer westerns I found they were basically generic badly written romance novels with cowboys and/or indians doing the bodice ripping. Western chick porn basically. Peter's book sounds like a breath of fresh air. Definitely going on my kindle.

Blogger James Dixon May 23, 2016 3:25 PM  

> When I went looking for newer westerns I found they were basically generic badly written romance novels with cowboys and/or indians doing the bodice ripping.

Pretty much, yes. If this is anything close to L'Amour or Grey then we have a real winner.

Blogger Alfred Genesson May 23, 2016 4:38 PM  

Castalia publishes a new book. It's a Western by Peter Grant. Wallet flies open fast enough I thought John C. Wright might have a new book out for a moment.

Blogger David Holden May 23, 2016 5:17 PM  

Just ordered it for my kindle

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau May 23, 2016 6:19 PM  

I can see a Western with a former Confederate Officer named Reynolds who barely survived Sibley's retreat who along with his companion Zoe, a female half African half Muskogee scout, wanders about the border doing any odd jobs they can find legal and otherwise along with their gang of misfits.

Washington is a mule driver the scout loves. There is the blacksmiths daughter Kay Lee who can make or fix anything. Parson Book a nice religious man who may have had a history with the Pinkertons. Inara the Brazilian lovely forced into the life of prostitution following the death of her husband. Jayne the gunslinger looking for his next score.

Reynolds and his gang and the sleepy border town of Serenity are thrown into chaos as Doc Tam flees to the town with his sister River whom he has rescued from the Comancheros who want him dead and her return.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau May 23, 2016 7:49 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Bear Brubaker May 23, 2016 10:55 PM  

Neat. I've been working on a western for a while. Something a little unflinching.

Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit May 24, 2016 3:41 AM  

How's the Overdrive process going? I can't book talk what the library cannot purchase.

It kills me that I can't offer the book-y goodness to my library customers.

Blogger Bear Brubaker May 24, 2016 2:39 PM  

Still working on it, here is the novel description:

June, 1850.

The rusted silver rails of the Midnight Train are a silent reminder of a bygone era when Gunslingers, Outlaws, Buffalo Hunters and Redskins roamed the storm-wracked flatland of the tornado plains.

Dust in her hair and lye soap burning the creases of her washtub hands, farmhand Faith Gale fears that her life's ambitions will end with her trapped as the trophy wife of a corn farmer -- until she sees the smokestacks of the black train rolling into an abandoned station on the far edge of town.

A lone passenger disembarks, hiding knowledge of the past behind green eyes. Beaten and raped by the townsfolk who despise her, Faith is held hostage by the temptation to follow the Green Man as he cuts a pathway of brutality and murder into Topica's rural bliss on a quest for a map he thinks can return him to his home.

Pursued by a trio of gunfighters, the Green Man and Faith ride the twisting rail of the Midnight Train to the edges of the old west as Faith takes gun in hand and becomes the villain of her own life story.

Blogger Anonymous-9 May 25, 2016 9:45 AM  

Vox Day: always on the zeitgeist... The Western novel still sells in America, and as fondness grows for America's past, Western authors continue to attract new and younger readers. There are many people still alive who remember remnants of the old West, handed down by their forefathers and mothers. If I had a magic wand, I would team these people with competent authors to incorporate what they know into well-crafted stories. Some of these people may yearn to write and get published, but they don't know where to start.

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