Official Review: The Levellers: A Classic Western Adventure

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inaramid
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Official Review: The Levellers: A Classic Western Adventure

Post by inaramid » 15 Oct 2019, 08:23

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Levellers: A Classic Western Adventure" by John Simpson.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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An Englishman and the son of a Chinese mafia leader walk into a bar. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and back in the late 1800s in the American Wild West, seeing Chester Garden (the aforementioned Englishman) and Sky Blue (whose real name is Zhang Tian-Shu) together would seem like a mistake. But Chester and Sky, both skilled with their fists and their guns, have been steadfast friends and business partners ever since they met. When a shared venture in gold prospecting failed, the two found their calling as gunslingers. “I’m paid to do what I like to call balancing things out,” Chester said to describe their new undertaking. “We endeavor to make things level.” And hence, The Levellers were born.

John Worsley Simpson’s The Levellers: A Classic Western Adventure plays like an episodic romp through the Wild West. There are three distinct story arcs — the duo’s first meeting and short-lived stint as gold prospectors; their exploits in Dodge City, Kansas, where they “levelled” the field between a ranch owner and a devious businessman; and finally, a job gone wrong in San Francisco, where one of the pair had to rescue the other from peril. It’s a lawless time, and life isn’t kind to immigrants, especially to people of color like Sky. Yet it’s also a time of immense opportunities, which Chester and Sky fully embrace while dealing time and again with corruption, discrimination, and prejudice.

Bromance might be a fairly recent term, but it’s an apt description of the dynamics between Chester and Sky. Through their odd tandem, the theme of accepting others is carried throughout the book, preaching a timeless lesson on tolerance that’s still very relevant in today’s world. This isn’t historical fiction per se, but the narrative makes good use of events such as the Black Hills Gold Rush and the boom of rail transport to add texture to the story.

The unconventional pairing of Chester and Sky aside, The Levellers is pretty much a straightforward Western story. There’s plenty of gunslinging action, described in a vivid language peppered with imageries of fast-paced horse chases, shoot-outs, and hand-to-hand combats (Chester is a good fighter, while Sky is an expert in kung fu). Readers looking for an action-packed story wouldn’t go wrong with this book. The violence is contextually appropriate, profanity is at a minimum, and although Chester is unabashedly a ladies’ man, his sexual liaisons are merely implied, not shown.

An unfortunate pitfall of the book, however, is the rushed quality of the ending. After a tense build-up, there was barely any falling action to bridge the gap between the climax and the concluding scenes. The narrative’s episodic quality is partly to blame for this, as the book feels more like a collection of three short stories rather than one continuous novel. Another issue is the presence of editing problems like misplaced quotation marks, misspelled words, and spelling inconsistencies (e.g., both “levelers” and “levellers” appear in the text). While not egregious, there were enough errors to suggest that the book wasn’t professionally edited.

The Levellers gets a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. Though my rating is closer to 2.75, the issues were a little too distracting to justify rounding it up to 3 stars. Regardless, it’s a short book that would surely entertain readers with a fondness for Western stories.

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The Levellers: A Classic Western Adventure
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Post by kdstrack » 25 Oct 2019, 11:27

I enjoyed your humorous description of the two main characters! Chester and Skye sound like a Western version of the dynamic duo. I think this story would be fun. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Post by unamilagra » 26 Oct 2019, 14:46

I am a sucker for westerns, and the plot of this one sounds fun. The poor ending and errors are enough to make me skip it, though. Thank you for a thorough review!

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Post by inaramid » 27 Oct 2019, 18:00

kdstrack wrote:
25 Oct 2019, 11:27
I enjoyed your humorous description of the two main characters! Chester and Skye sound like a Western version of the dynamic duo. I think this story would be fun. Thanks for the recommendation.
It's short too, so it'd be perfect for a plane ride or something. :)

unamilagra wrote:
26 Oct 2019, 14:46
I am a sucker for westerns, and the plot of this one sounds fun. The poor ending and errors are enough to make me skip it, though. Thank you for a thorough review!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Post by Prisallen » 29 Oct 2019, 19:03

I grew up reading westerns, but I haven't read one in a long time. It's too bad that the ending and the errors make it a little less desirable than it otherwise would be. I hope the author fixes those problems. Thanks for a wonderful review!

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Post by inaramid » 01 Nov 2019, 07:13

Prisallen wrote:
29 Oct 2019, 19:03
I grew up reading westerns, but I haven't read one in a long time. It's too bad that the ending and the errors make it a little less desirable than it otherwise would be. I hope the author fixes those problems. Thanks for a wonderful review!
I appreciate you dropping by! Like I said, it's a short book, so it might still be worth a shot.

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Post by Mbrooks2518 » 06 Nov 2019, 19:57

Westerns don't usually interest me, but the friendship between Chester and Sky as well as the plot have me intrigued, so I might give it a try. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by inaramid » 10 Nov 2019, 07:56

Mbrooks2518 wrote:
06 Nov 2019, 19:57
Westerns don't usually interest me, but the friendship between Chester and Sky as well as the plot have me intrigued, so I might give it a try. Thanks for the great review!
Thanks for dropping by! The relationship between the two MCs is one of the highlights of the story.

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Post by Wyland » 12 Nov 2019, 07:03

I have a weakness for all things based on the pioneer era, so this promises to be a an engaging one . Thanks for the enjoyable review.

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Post by inaramid » 13 Nov 2019, 06:10

Wyland wrote:
12 Nov 2019, 07:03
I have a weakness for all things based on the pioneer era, so this promises to be a an engaging one . Thanks for the enjoyable review.
Thanks for dropping by! I hope you get a chance to read this!

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Post by Kelyn » 14 Nov 2019, 14:35

Bromance. That's probably a word that most men would have shot you for using about them in the old west! I think it's perfect in this case, however. Chester and Sky sound like the perfect team, each the foil for the other. (Now, where's my bulletproof vest...) I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks!

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Post by inaramid » 14 Nov 2019, 19:52

Kelyn wrote:
14 Nov 2019, 14:35
Bromance. That's probably a word that most men would have shot you for using about them in the old west! I think it's perfect in this case, however. Chester and Sky sound like the perfect team, each the foil for the other. (Now, where's my bulletproof vest...) I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks!
:lol2: :lol2: :lol2: :lol2: Get me one of them bulletproof vests, too.

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