“Raiders of the Spanish Peaks” first saw light of day in December 1931 as a serial in the recently established magazine “Country Gentleman”. It ran as a six-part story until May 1932. Then, in 1938 it was published by Harper & Bros. Later it reappeared in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine 4(5) in 1950 and as a Dell picturized edition called “The Rustlers” in 1954.
Zane Grey always has a theme for his historical romances. He tries to keep them true to the times, using historical people and places to emphasize his messages. Charles “Buffalo” Jones conveys the importance of understanding stories from its time and place in history. He also tries to convey the idea that all stories have two sides to them. “Raiders of the Spanish Peaks” is set to the 1880s in Kansas and Colorado. At that time Comanchee, Ute, Kiowa and Arapaho tribes were still being removed from lands wanted by cattle ranchers into reservations. Jones refers to one of the darkest times in the history in the US, a time described well in Zane Grey’s “The Thundering Herd“.
The Half-Made World is a combination of fantasy and science fiction set in a Western (Wild West) environment. Half the forces battling in The Half-Made World is set in a Wild West setting and ruled by something called “The Gun”. The Gun consists of demons inhabiting weapons (guns). Humans who take up these weapons end up being possessed by The Gun’s demons and slowly, but surely, they go insane.
The other party of this war is “The Line”. The Line is set in an industrialised environment where steam-engines are possessed by demons and somehow rule the humans in their control. This industrialised world is bleak, colorless and rigid. Both parties want control of the world with humans as their slaves.
Humans, being what we are, seek to control others through supposed control of the demons. Any reader of human/demon novels knows that humans tend to come out with the poorer deal of any relationship between the two. Power is the lure the demons put before whichever human they seek to control. Ahhh, even people with the best intentions can fall for that temptation.
Somehow a weapon has been discovered that might elude the power of the demons and they do like this possibility. Their emissaries are sent to capture the person known as The General. He just happens to be at a hospital called The House Dolorous, a hospital that is not what it seems to be.
Liv Alverhuysen travels west to the hospital. She is from a part of the country where neither The Line nor The Gun hold control and is not aware of what they are and how strong their forces are. Once at The House Dolorous, Ms. Alverhuysen is supposed to help heal the minds of patients. The various parties meet and fates decided.
I really liked the underlying sense of humor in this novel. The Half-made World is well written, and the text flows from one line to the next. I admire that in an author. There is plenty of tension, a good climax and a fitting conclusion.