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Peacemaker by K.A. Stewart – review
Caleb Marcus is a Peacemaker, a roving lawman tasked with maintaining the peace and bringing control to magic users on the frontier. A Peacemaker isn’t supposed to take a life—but sometimes, it’s kill or be killed…
After a war injury left him half-scoured of his power, Caleb and his jackalope familiar have been shipped out West, keeping them out of sight and out of the way of more useful agents. And while life in the wild isn’t exactly Caleb’s cup of tea, he can’t deny that being amongst folk who aren’t as powerful as he is, even in his poor shape, is a bit of a relief.
But Hope isn’t like the other small towns he’s visited. The children are being mysteriously robbed of their magical capabilities. There’s something strange and dark about the local land baron who runs the school. Cheyenne tribes are raiding the outlying homesteads with increasing frequency and strange earthquakes keep shaking the very ground Hope stands on.
Something’s gone very wrong in the Wild West, and it’s up to Caleb to figure out what’s awry before he ends up at the end of the noose—or something far worse…
What I Expected: I expected a western steampunk tale about a type of lawman who uses magic in aid of his work. I can’t say why but I expected it to be humorous – perhaps because of the mention of a jackalope, which is, while completely farfetched like many fantasy creatures, also completely implausible. I also expected quite a bit of action, possibly some type of shootout.
What I Got: I definitely got what I expected. Some interesting magic, a conflict between the Cheyenne and the townspeople, and, of course, dirty pool being played that required the presence of a lawman. I didn’t really get the shootout I was expecting, but I’m actually glad about that. Many western tales we see on the movie or small screen seem to confuse killing all of your enemies with winning.
What I Liked: I really liked that the hero is a bit world weary and down on his luck when we meet him, and he learns a lot not only about himself but also about other people that he might not have if he hadn’t been in that situation. I liked the addition of the spirit animal – I cannot wait to learn more about them in future volumes. I also liked that he felt the prejudices he was brought up with but fought against them, as he saw they were unrealistic.
What I Did Not: The bad guy this time seemed to be too much of something. Perhaps it was the way I could tell he was the bad guy from the moment he walked onstage. It was still a satisfying defeat of evil, but I could have wished that it had not been so transparent.
Cover Talk: It is definitely attractive in an ‘I might want to read that’ kind of way. The blues and the background are beautiful, and the ‘gunslinger’ silhouette fits the story well. The bold title piece using a lawman’s star is also a nice touch. Not something I’d hang on the wall, but it does its job admirably.
Recommendation: Steampunk fans, western fantasy fans, and really anyone who loves a good ‘white hat versus black hat’ story will enjoy this one. In particular, fans of Devon Monk’s Age of Steam series will probably take to this one, as well. I’ll be looking out for the next in this series.
Editor’s note: This title is currently listed for sale only in ebook format.