Review by Nick Ahlhelm
I’ve known the name R.A. Jones for years. I read his work on the Protectors line of comics from the pre-Marvel purchase Malibu Comics and remember it fondly. When his name suddenly popped up as the author of an original New Pulp novel from Airship 27, I instantly wanted to check it out.
Deathwalker introduces a new hero—and setting—to pulp heroes. Jones takes American Indian history and weaves in Conan-style adventuring to create a world for his hero. Deathwalker is a foreboding figure among his Cheyenne tribe. With the scar of a hand burnt to his chest, he has become a powerful killer, feared by all that know his name. To mark his killing prowess, the skin of his face turns a deathly white in battle.
Jones either clearly knows his history of the Pawnee and Cheyenne tribes of this story or can expertly fake them. He does an excellent job of making this wild, dangerous life seem real. Jones doesn’t pull punches with the violence or the sexuality of the Cheyenne tribe.
The villain, Stands Alone, isn’t the most epic villain in pulp history, but he does make a solid, dangerous and quite evil starting point for a character that seems ripe for series fiction.
Deathwalker doesn’t ever quite grasp the high adventure of Conan, but perhaps that isn’t really the author’s attention, though cover artist Laura Givens’ excellent art certainly makes it seem so. This reviewer was disappointed that the adventure wasn’t a bit grander in scope, but that can be chalked up as much to my own misreading of the marketing as the story itself.
Deathwalker offers solid adventure, great action and one of the most realistic pulp settings in quite some time. It is well worth a read by any New Pulp or fantasy hero enthusiast. And such a solid debut for a character just plain deserves more eyes on it.
The novel is now available in print and PDF editions. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy. Great books like this need everyone’s support. Highly Recommended.