Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Luck by Max Brand (a.k.a. Riders of the Silences by John Frederick)

Pierre le Rouge was raised by a Jesuit missionary from a young age. But in addition to producing someone who can speak the purest Latin in the region, Father Jean Paul Victor also trained Pierre to be a superior physical specimen who can handle himself in rough terrain of the Northwest.

When Pierre, who thought he was an orphan, finds out he has a father — and that this father, Martin Ryder, is dying from a gunshot from Bob McGurk — he sets out for revenge. Father Victor lends him a cross to help him on his way, not knowing that

The newest edition of Luck (originally published in Argosy in 1919 under the byline John Frederick), is the first book version since that original publication to contain the entire manuscript as the author intended.

If you've read another Brand book called Riders of the Silences, you've read basically the same story — but not quite. A great deal of material was excised from Luck for the other book's 1920 publication with the Frederick byline, and even more was removed (by Brand biographer William F. Nolan) for the 1988 revision with the Brand byline, which is the one currently available most readily.

As a proofreader, I have a certain amount of faith in the editorial process, but when an editor with an agenda begins removing the heart of a story, he or she has gone too far. I'm glad the author's original text — hardly seen for almost 90 years — is finally available unexpurgated.

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