Charles R. Saunders, legendary Sword-and-Sorcery author and Friend of The Cimmerian, has posted a guest blog over at the Black Gate website. It’s a review of Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” series. A big reason why it should interest readers of The Cimmerian (besides the obvious), is that Mr. Saunders compares Child’s peripatetic protagonist to Robert E. Howard’s Conan.
I really enjoyed CRS’ review. While I don’t read much in the way of contemporary thrillers/mysteries (there are only so many hours in the day), I do read them every blue moon. Child’s books sound like good reads: hard-edged, fast-moving and tightly-plotted. If there are similarities to Conan, so much the better.
In his review, Saunders points up some of those congruences. As he notes, Reacher and everyone’s favorite Cimmerian are both big men. Both are also very dangerous in a fracas. In addition, Conan and Jack both thoroughly enjoy the company of women. From that point on, though, just judging from CRS’ review, there are a lot of divergences.
Reacher is a compulsive wanderer. Raised an Army brat, he followed his father’s footsteps into the military, serving thirteen years as an MP. During that time, he was stationed all around the world. Growing dissatisfied, Jack left the Army and chose to wander the United States, the native land that is like a foreign country to him. As Reacher journeys about America in the novels, he travels light, almost ascetically so. Again and again, he stumbles upon bloody mysteries and metes out rough justice according to his own lights.
To me, this sounds a lot more like Solomon Kane. Solomon seems to have spent time in the Queen’s Navy before becoming dissatisfied and wandering to the ends of the earth. He hoofed it all over Africa with just a rapier and a wheel-lock. Just like Reacher, SK doesn’t seem particularly interested in wealth, nor does he appear to have a true idea why he wanders.
Now, it does not appear that Reacher is any sort of Puritan, but then Solomon was a very odd sort of Puritan himself. Reacher does seem to have a fairly strong code that he lives and kills by. I suppose I would say that Jack Reacher strikes me as a kind of “post-modern Solomon Kane”; a man who is driven to wander, though he knows not why and is bound by his own code of honor. I find it much easier to envision, just from what I’ve gathered about Reacher, that he would fit into a scenario like “Wings in the Night” much easier than he would “The Vale of Lost Women.” Perhaps I’m wrong. I do appreciate Mr. Saunders bringing these books to my attention.