Friday, July 30, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 7

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a writer.

The Executioner #38: Satan's Sabbath
by Don Pendleton

I was a huge James Bond fan when I was a kid, and still am somewhat a fan to this day. Sean Connery has always been my favorite Bond, but "Live and Let Die" is my favorite Bond movie.

As a kid and young teen, I delved into some of Ian Fleming's Bond books. They were good. They were interesting. But they didn't quite have enough action for me, the budding young man. I wanted a lot more of things blowing up, and of bad guys getting shot.

Then, at about age 12, I discovered The Executioner series of men's action/adventure novels. A couple of times a year a new book in the series would come out. The plot was simple: A Vietnam veteran named Mack Bolan lost his family to the mafia, so now he was out for revenge. Each book detailed Mack's latest adventures in taking down the mob. It was great, explosive stuff.

I first picked up the series with this book, "Satan's Sabbath," which was actually a shame. It was the end of the original author's run on the series. Don Pendleton would no longer write Mack Bolan books after this one. Also, the series was going in a new direction with Bolan taking on terrorists. There was really nothing wrong with the new direction, but Pendleton had been the one to hook me on the series and I wanted to read his take on his character before going on to other authors.

Well, the good thing about starting with book 38 was there were 37 books before that one, all but one (#16) written by Pendleton himself. So, I spent the next year searching for and reading as many of Don Pendleton's The Executioner novels as I could find. I never read all of them, but I did read a good number.

And once I finished with Pendleton's original run, there were still new Bolan adventures coming out, only this time a new novel came out at a least once a month.

I don't regularly read The Executioner novels nowadays, though I pick one up from time to time, and the series is now up in the four or five hundreds or something ungodly like that. It's almost like a comic book in that way.

As a writer, The Executioner novels taught me a lot. They weren't always the best reading, depending on who was doing the actual writing, but they were almost always taught with action. Frankly, I learned how to write action scenes from these books, and I suggest any writer wanting to learn to write decent action scenes couldn't do much better than reading through a dozen or so of these novels.

Plus they can be a lot of fun to read.

Next up: Pet Sematary, by Stephen King


Charles Gramlich said...

Did you ever read the Destroyer series by Sapir and Murphy? A lot of those were really well done and had a lot of action. I only read a couple of the Executioners and those from late in the series. I should try some of the early Pendelton ones.

Ty Johnston said...

Oddly enough, considering how many Executioner books I've read over the years, I never made the transition over to The Destroyer books. It might have had something to do with that awful Remo Williams movie from the '80s.

A word of warning about Pendleton's writing, it definitely seems dated nowadays, but can be fun in a nostalgic '70s kind of way.