Friday, 16 May 2008


Historical data
Edge: Apache Death
(no 3)
George G. Gilman
Originally published as a paperback original by NEL 1972
Bears the number 45004238 3

The year is 1866. The region is Arizona territory. The town is called Rainbow. The cavalry are here, so is an English gambler and so is Edge. On the borders of the town wait Cochise and his Apaches.
They will all be together at Rainbow's end.

So began the third in the ultra violent but supremely readable western series from British author Terry Harknet, Aka George G. Gilman. And if anything this one tops the violence in the previous two books and on times, it is so nasty that it becomes blackly humorous. There is much humour in this book and the interplay between Edge and the Englishman is inspired writing.

Easily the best of the first three books.



Historical data
Edge:Ten thousand dollars american
George G. Gilman
published by NEL as paperback original 1972
carries the number 45001060 0

When I was a kid during the seventies I and a few friends had a kind of reading club in which we would swap books. These tomes were usually the hard hitting, all action, violent epic paperbacks of the day and I vividly remember that this book was given to me in exchange for a copy of James Herbert's The Rats, and as such was the book that introduced me to the new kind of Western hero. In fact so popular did the character of Edge become with me that I was always reading one of the books. In fact I used to bunk off school (mitching we called it. Going on the mitch.) and I remember one glorious summer's day, the sun too bright, the sky too blue to be stuck in a classroom, spending the entire afternoon alone, up a tree reading an Edge novel. Not sure which particular one but it could have been this one.

That was almost thirty years ago now. Makes a person feel old.

Reading it now, as a forty year old, I felt strangely nostalgic but still enjoyed the well written mixture of blood, guts and graveyard humour.
The books starts with Edge still sheriff of Peaceville but when a group of Mexican bandits ride into town and proceed to shoot the place up and rob Edge of all his money, the scene is set for another revenge western.

This book is even better than the first one and now all humanity is stripped from the character of Edge and he kills without regret as he makes his way through the western landscape that is part Sergio Leone and part Dario Argento.

Another great book in the super violent pulp tradition.



Historical data:
Published by NEL first edition 1972
(C) George G. Gilman 1971
the first issue carried the number 45001061

Paperback westerns were once all the rage and the genre claimed a large percentage of High Street Sales. George G. Gilman was a pen name of English author Terry Harknet - he was also responsible for the highly popular Adam Steele series of westerns, but it is with the character Edge that he received his greatest success.

In fact so successful was the character that he even spawned a series of comic books and some of the original Edge novels, particularly the later ones, are fetching an high price at online auction sites like Ebay.

But to review the first Edge book now, all these years later, in more politically correct times is a joy. Good unpretentious fun - forget all about artistic merit and saddle up for a damn good ride. Could have been what reading was invented for.

The book opens with a young crippled kid, Jamie Hedges working the family farm and waiting for his older brother, Joshua to return now that the war is over. However when six riders come into the ranch and tell Jamie that his brother Jo his dead the young boy is heartbroken. Soon however it becomes clear that the riders, all of who served under Joshua Hedges have an hidden agenda. By the end of the first two chapters Jamie has been tortured before being shot in the head and the ranch has been burnt to the ground.
The riders vanish and later Joshua, still very much alive, turns up and find the devastation. He pauses to bury his brother and then takes to the trail to become the one man killing spree, Edge who will stop at nothing to get revenge on his brother's killers.
The rest of the book is great fun with the pudding milked to the max - there's a stage robbery, indian attacks and many varied inventive killings as Edge makes his way towards the six men he must kill in order to avenge his brother's death. The book ends with Edge becoming the temporary sheriff of Peaceville but upon turning the last page, the reader knows that soon Edge will once again be surrounded by mayhem and carnage.

The Edge books are very much in the pulp tradition but what made these books so popular and leaves them still very readable is that as well as the violence and thrills there is no small amount of character development. Edge's transition from weary war vet to cold impassive killer is logically done and works in the context of the story. There is also great use of black humour making the books the logical successor to the Eastwood/Leone films and latter day westerns in particular.

The Gentleman plans to review the entire Edge series here and we will also, in a later posting, look at Gilman's other best known character, Adam Steele.


Such was the success of this series that NEL immediately announced another from the George G. Gilman pen. Born from a failed screenplay that Terry had written, Adam Steele made his debut in 1974 and would ride alongside Edge -- both on the bookshelf and in three adventures they would simultaneously share -- until their demise in 1989. A third series entitled The Undertaker, which would feature the humorless mortician named Barnaby Gold, surfaced in 1981. Unfortunately, it was absent of the success shouldered by Terry�s earlier Gilman series and vanished after only six titles.

Terry Harknett, however, was not limited to his work as George G. Gilman.
A member of the infamous Piccadilly Cowboys, who circled their wagons around the George G. Gilman success, Terry would also create the Jubal Cade and Apache series. Sharing work on these with Laurence James, which had left his editorial position at NEL to become a full-time writer, along with the likes of Angus Wells and John Harvey (the latter who later gained fame as the author of the Charlie Resnick series of police procedurals), this talent pool became prolific throughout the 1970s and early 1980s at producing a wealth of entertaining Western fiction.

Though none of the titles would reach the heights at which a George G. Gilman paperback could obtain, each writer would have his own personal success with the likes of such series as Herne the Hunter, Crow, Gunslinger and Breed; all of which were cast from the Gilman model.

Eventually, as the sales of Western fiction began to slowly diminish in the early 1980s, the remainder of the Piccadilly Cowboys watched as their series were unsparingly cancelled. Terry continued to pen George G. Gilman yarns, managing to survive a failed motion picture adaptation of Edge and the bankruptcy of Pinnacle, until he realized that it had come time to call it a day.
Unfortunately, in 1989, NEL released their final George G. Gilman titles. Terry cited both the lack of sales and his own "diminishing brain cells" as the reason he allowed the sun to set on his beloved characters, giving them free reign to ride away on their own without the fear of cancellation stalking their every move like a well-trained bounty hunter.

But as the years passed and the name George G. Gilman, which at one time had trailed only the likes of Louis L�Amour and Zane Grey as the top-selling Western authors, slowly faded from respective circles; Gilmaniacs worldwide would not allow the flame to be extinguished.

1 comment:

bennoyes05 said...

do u have to read the books in sequential order for them to make sense?