I came across 'Muleskinner's Blues' about two months ago. It was being showcased in the SOL Random Story window and since the description caught my eye, I decided to give it a read. I'll say now that I wasn't disappointed. The story was everything that the author had advertised in his story description and more.
The first thing that caused me to read the tale was the hint that this was a time-travelling tale with a twist. Obviously, I'm a big fan of time-travel stories and I just had to read this one. The fact that it was set during and after the American Civil War was also a draw for me. I like well written historical stories and I decided to give this a try.
The story was fantastic. I've put it on my favourite's page and I've noted that the plot was 'movie' quality. Of course, Hollywood would compress the first half of the story, the historical part into a twenty minute introduction and background and focus the rest of the production on the time-travelling tale. It would definitely sell but it would probably take some of the appeal away from the main character.
Overall the story has an incredible plot and the twist in the tale is well thought out. All the characters are believable and identifiable. The story moves well for much of it and it kept my interest until the very end. He wrote well of a time in American history that is definitely contentious depending on which side of the war your opinions fall. For that alone the story is worth reading.
The only drawback to this story was an issue with consistency that crept into is as the chapters went on. The author started confusing character names calling one thing at the start of a chapter and another later on in the same chapter. As well, typos increased the longer the story progressed and it became distracting near the end of the story. If the author pulled the story and got a good editor to go through it, he could repost it without out fear of future criticism. In fact, I'd love to read more about Jeb and his adventures, in both the worlds in which he travels.
Reviewed: 2008-03-14 - (Review Updated: 2008-03-30)
In continuation of my habit of reviewing an 'in progress' story, I am happy to write that this is going to be an all-time favourite for me and many other right-thinking people :)
Joe J. already has an excellent body of work and my regard for his writing is already very high but this tale places him firmly in the pantheon of the S.O.L world.
Muleskinner is delightful in the details it is not afraid to work with. The complete surprise plot-twist actually made me laugh out loud with pleasure.
I hope this story is a long, long epic. The lead up to the latest episode in Jeb's life has been interesting in it's own right, but his universe has now expanded so massively that we could see an enormous epic before the end.
A synopsis of the story so far:
Jeremiah (Jeb) is the main character and we follow along with him through his adventures with first, the confederate army under general Lee, during which he taught me a fair bit about the history of that conflict. Then on to being a lawman in a pioneer town with gold prospectors and bawdy houses and gunslingers. All the while, being trailed by a bevy of beautiful women -- and preceded by a mule train.
And then, one day, three more beautiful women enter his life and things will never be the same again...