Bravestarr Redux

Peacemaker - K.A. Stewart
Peacemakers didn't kill. They weren't executioners; they were law men.

This wasn't necessarily bad. But it was definitely not for me. For reasons that surprised me.

Coming form someone who still needs a lot of bribing to eat her vegetables, see the dentist for her annual and get out of bed on weekends, I'm a little bit ashamed to call something as too young for me. Because certainly, in the Pixar Age, is anything really too young for anybody anymore? Initially, I thought it was the Steampunk aspect of this book, because while I'm an adventurous reader, there are two things I can't seem to voluntarily subject myself into: Westerns and pirates. I don't know, I think I'm too much of a girl to enjoy these kinds of stories without getting bribed by cute half-naked cowboys or cute half-naked swashbuckling pirates. 

Peacemaker had neither but I still found it an easy read with a serviceably interesting story that I didn't find the least bit enjoyable. And I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I'm not a ten year old boy.

From what I gleaned, Peacemakers are traveling sheriffs who jump from one town to another enforcing the Aboriginal Peace Accords of 1874, which I suppose means to keep the peace between the Indians and the Americans in certain disputed border territories. Now before I go on, I did not have a Western primary education, what I know of American History and the Wild Wild West, I learned from Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood movies. In that aspect, I'd have to say this did a pretty good job in cutting the story and geo-political climate across. Though this being a fantastical Alternate Universe may have helped some in keeping this interesting enough for someone like me. 

Because in this America, people have powers. Like pew-pew wizardy powers borne out of a source, the fuzzily logic-ed arcane. And just as there's a source for such powers, there are means to having these powers "scoured" rendering a person "barren". Caleb Marcus was a powerful soldier until he was partly scoured in battle, leading him to semi-retire as a Peacemaker.

Together with his familiar, Ernst, a powerful and cuddly hybrid between a bunny and antelope (a jackalope), they walk into the small town of Hope just when his transport breaks down. I'm not quite sure what a transport is because initially I thought it was a robot horse but then it has windows so we'll have to make do with "a robot horse with windows" imagery there. It seems perfectly timed too as the peaceful town has been suffering mysterious earthquakes and pillaging, allegedly in the hands of the ruthless Braves (Indian warriors), while more and more children grow into becoming barren of magic by some inexplicable means. 

When I was younger, I used to watch this cartoon called BraveStarr, about a sheriff (with eyes of a hawk, strength of a bear etc.) and his talking, shotgun-wielding horse as they enforce the law and dole out sage advice on bullying, not doing drugs etc. This reminds me a lot of that show. Caleb's role as a wizard-like Peacemaker, toting a magical staff while wearing a duster was very action-figure material. He's the role model you want your son to learn of, extolling the very image of justice and righteousness. He's the kind of hero that used to populate our Saturday morning cartoon TV options...

…in the 80s. If this could still capture the interest of younger kids now, I don't know.

But I do wish I knew ahead this was that kind of book.

Because while I enjoyed Bravestarr as a child, I'm having a difficult time enjoying the simplistic story presented to me here in Peacemaker. It was too archaic with the barest character development focusing instead on a mystery that wasn't really a mystery. I wanted to be frustrated over the missed opportunities to make this more interesting, add some bells and whistles to the plot to make it less PSA-"after school special" and more attractive and engaging, but I don't think it was written with any of the current trends in mind. Which is actually ballsy from a certain standpoint. The lack of any romantic plot whatsoever alone was refreshingly brave.
"We must bind this before you lose more blood."
"I appear to be fresh out of bandages."
Without hesitation the woman grasped her own blouse in both hands and ripped, buttons popping off in all directions. Caleb quickly averted his eyes.

Yep, a middle aged woman ripping off her clothes in front of our hero is as steamy as this Steampunk book got.

I really don't mind this, to be honest, but there has to be something in the story that would anchor my adult interest. I wanted it to be the relationship between Caleb and Ernst but it was just so rudimentary. I thought Ernst was a perfect excuse to introduce some Seth MacFarlane snark and humor in the story (he's a cuddly bunny with a drinking problem FFS!) but this was so trapped in its own old-fashioned plot it was heart-breaking to see all those missed opportunities. The whole Indian mysticism helping the noble but troubled White Man has been done to death in film and literature, and isn't something that particularly appeals to me. Fact: Pocahontas was my least favorite Disney princess.

Seeing as this is set out to be a series, it didn't do well enough to encourage me to pursue Caleb Marcus' story beyond this one. I wasn't put off by the Steampunky-ness of the story as a whole so this might not be my last of that genre.

And fuck.

Because the biggest offense these adults committed, apart from being insufferably boring, was cussing with "Dammit!" I'm fairly uncomfortable enough with this and having been cheated out of the story that I was expecting, here have a "fuck".

And a couple of others.



ARC provided by Penguin Intermix thru NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Quotes may not appear in the final edition.
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