The Mensch with No Name by Edward M Erdelac
The Merkabah Rider continues his journey across the American Southwest of 1880 in search of the renegade teacher who destroyed his mystic Jewish order in the second volume (containing novella episodes 5-8) of this acclaimed weird western series.
In this installment the Rider unravels more of the mystery of Adon's Hour of the Incursion plot and quickly learns that demons are the least of his troubles. He defends a remote settlement against a gang of half-demon gunmen in 'The Infernal Napoleon', joins forces with Doc Holliday to hunt down an invisible creature in 'The Damned Dingus', aids a group of Indians against the mindbending horror of 'The Outlaw Gods', and takes his hunt to hell itself in 'The Pandæmonium Ride'.
My favourite Hasidic gunslinger, the Rider, is back. Sure the Rider is the only Hasidic gunslinger I know, but that certainly doesn't take make him any less awesome or any less dangerous. In Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name (I'm going to call it TMWNN from here on) Edward M. Erdelac gives us the next four episodes in the Rider's quest to hunt down his blasphemous, scheming mentor, Adon. We start to learn more about Adon, what he has been up to, what schemes he has hatched, and that the consequences of failing to stop him may be disastrous for all the planes of existence. The Hour of Incursion is coming.
As in Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter, TMWNN is broken up into four stories of novella length. Each story is self contained, has it's own characters and challenges for the Rider to face, and each one gives some progression to the overall Merkabah Rider story arc:
The Infernal Napoleon - the half-demon spawn of Lilith, still seething from the events of the last story, have finally caught up to the Rider in the town of Varruga Tanks. With the help of a local boy named Gersh (a reincarnation of Samson?), the Rider faces off against the half-demons, their ancient cannon forged by Lucifer himself, and Adon's treacherous pupils who are now able to hunt the Rider on the Yenne Velt.
The Damned Dingus - after his Volcanic pistol is stolen during a train robbery, the Rider teams up with Doc Holliday (I'm hardly a Wild West expert so it was great to finally recognise an historical figure) and 'Mysterious' Dave Mather (another historical figure) to track down the outlaws and retrieve his Volcanic. After tracking down the outlaws, the Rider and company must face the 'undead' and a powerful monster (reminiscent of The Dunwich Horror) if he is to reclaim his weapon.
The Outlaw Gods - a group of American Indians meet up with the Rider at his campsite - they have been looking for him and they need his help. After a perilous journey the Rider is introduced to Chaksusa, a Tibetan mystic who needs the Rider to lead a battle against the Black Goat Man (we are right into Lovecraft now). The Rider is told of Tibetan mysticism, of gods and universes outside of this one, and despite the blasphemous nature of this information, the Rider is not able to disregard the evidence. His faith has never been so harshly tested.
The Pandæmonium Ride - The Rider is dying. The minions of Lilith continue to feed on his life force, and it is only through the help of a Merkabah Rider from the Ethiopian Sons of the Essenes sect that he is able to keep these minions at bay. With Adon's plan now in full swing, the Rider and his new companion need answers, and the best place to get these answers are from Lucifer himself in the depths of Hell.
Where Tales of a High Planes Drifter was all about introducing readers to Jewish mysticism, the Rider, and the overarching plot, TMWNN is all about assembling all of the puzzle pieces to work out just exactly what Adon's endgame is, and putting together a plan to stop him. The overarching plot is much more present in this volume and this helps to maintain a much more even flow and pacing during the down time and between the stories. The Jewish mysticism is handled much better in this volume, and after spending the first episode getting reacquainted with the Rider Erdelac plunges us head first into some new religions and mythologies - particularly all things Lovecraft (search for the Necronomicon if you want to learn more). With things like invisible monsters, snake warriors, and a terrifying trip through the gates of Hell, things have taken a much darker turn and I like it. The only criticism I have (and this is very much a personal taste thing) is that I found the writing to be very dense, packed full of so much information that I found myself reading and re-reading line after line just so I could take it all in. There are so many layers and so much complexity in these stories that I think people will find the first read through to be tough going (like I did), with the second read through to be much more satisfying.
Erdelac has given the Rider a lot more attention in this volume, and for me that made things much more interesting. We get to find out more about the Rider, where he came from, and what makes him tick. He is made to feel a lot less alien than before, and for me that made him much easier to relate to and empathise with. Erdelac does a lot of this by providing the Rider with companions for each story - characters like Gersh, Doc Holliday, Chaksusa and Kabede - who are all unique and complex characters, and who all challenge the Rider in their own different ways which helps to flesh out his closely guarded / hidden nature. But Erdelac doesn't stop there, giving the Rider a very well constructed crisis of faith arc that progresses across the course of the volume. I found this crisis of faith arc to be both fascinating and heartbreaking, watching the Rider's faith plummet as he becomes exposed to truths outside the boundaries of his religion, and watching as the authenticity of his devotion and practices is brought into question.
My favourite part of this volume has to be the Rider and Kabede's descent into Hell. Erdelac paints the most vivid pictures with his words during this scene, drawing on influences from Milton's Paradise Lost and Alighieri's Divine Comedy (Dante's Inferno) to craft some horrific imagery which, like the Rider, I "watched in morbid fascination". This scene flowed so well from start to finish and I found it so much easier to read because of how it completely gripped my attention. For me, this scene on it's own is the reason why you should be trying to get a hold of anything and everything written by Erdelac.
Weird Western is a weird genre that probably will not appeal to everyone but that I would encourage everyone to try. The Merkabah Rider stories are right up there as some of the best Weird Western I have read, and I am very eager to see where Erdelac takes the Rider next. If you like The Dark Tower by Stephen King, I think you will get a lot of enjoyment out of this book.
This The Mensch with No Name book review was written by Ryan Lawler
All reviews for: Tales of a High Planes Drifter
Tales of a High Planes Drifter: Book 1
The last of an ancient order of Jewish mystics capable of extraplanar travel, The Merkabah Rider roams a demon haunted American West in search of his renegade teacher. But ...
The Mensch with No Name
Tales of a High Planes Drifter: Book 2
The Merkabah Rider continues his journey across the American Southwest of 1880 in search of the renegade teacher who destroyed his mystic Jewish order in the second volume ...
Have Glyphs Will Travel
Tales of a High Planes Drifter: Book 3
The Rider and Kabede must rally a US Cavalry troop against an army of the undead lead by three of Adon's renegade riders if they are to survive The Long Sabbath. ...
Have you read The Mensch with No Name?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Mensch with No Name reader reviews
8.8/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Perdido Street Station
The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of its own bewildering world. Humans and mutants and arcane races throng the gloom beneath its chimneys, where the rive...
The Anubis Gates
Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a...
The City and the City
When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector T...
The Difference Engine
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the developm...
A colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination. A human cargo bound for servitude in exile... A pirate city hauled across the oceans... A hidden mi...
The Aeronaut's Windlass
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have rule...
It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and riot...
The Shadow Conspiracy
1816, the year without a summer. A group of geniuses descended on Geneva and, in an attempt to save the body and mind of Lord Byron, perform dreadful and forbidden experime...
The Weavers of Saramyr
An evil that comes from within the empire's centre, a sect of magicians close to the throne intent on killing any child born with magical powers. But now the empress ha...
The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats
Sir Richard Francis Burton's expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it ...
A young clockmaker's apprentice, who is visited by the Archangel Gabriel. He is told that he must take the Key Perilous and rewind the Mainspring of the Earth. It is ru...
The Good, the Bad and the Infernal
One day every hundred years, a town appears, its location and character different every time. It is home to the greatest miracle a man could imagine: a doorway to Heaven it...
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
A clockwork man is abandoned in Trafalgar Square. A ghost displays a craving for diamonds. A lost aristocrat returns ten years after being lost at sea and instigates riots ...
Sea of Ghosts
When the last of the Gravediggers, an elite imperial infiltration unit, are disbanded and hunted down by the emperor they once served, munitions expert Colonel Thomas Grang...
With his patients dead and his genetic research in tatters, Dr. Anton Springmann fled his homeland as a fugitive, taking a one-way diesel ship to New Alania. But within hou...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Journey to the Black City
On an Earth that is very much like our own, the civilizations of ancient man have been crushed; the giant glaciers that cover the northern part of the globe continue, even now...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's just about surviving, so long as he only takes his beloved plane for short journeys, and saves his remaining fuel. But, just once, he picks up a message from another pilot, a...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...
The Court of Broken Knives
Anna Smith Spark
They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we pi...
With Blood Upon the Sand
Ceda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further t...