Where the Condor Flies by Curt Longbow is a good read for those interested in American Western thrillers. Sadly, I am not one of them. To be very honest, I did not like the book, and can never recommend it to anyone. For a book published in the year 2000, the book feels quite outdated and under-edited. Nonetheless, I read it cover to cover, and here’s my review of the novel.
Plot Summary of Where the Condor Flies
Where the Condor Flies is set in the mid-19th century and revolves around Coronel Fernandez, a former military mercenary. Coronel Fernandez was the marquee man of the infamous Mexican warlord and ruler Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, commonly known as General Santa Anna.
The plot is based on the aftermath of the Mexican War, when the savage Mexican military, led by General Santa Anna and his deputy, Coronel Fernandez massacred the Texians at the Alamo. The event is historically known as the Alamo Massacre, which occurred at the end of the Battle of Alamo. Each and every survivor of the battle was put to rest, albeit mercilessly.
The story is about the only witness of the bloody massacre, who awaits revenge even 30 years after the fateful day. However, Coronel Fernandez, now known as El Condor, has become the leader of a renegade band of fugitives, living in the mountains, and raiding villages and trains.
Unfortunately, this is just a minute part of the story. It, almost entirely, revolves around a bunch of mercenaries trying to bust El Condor! And Ben Jackson trying to avenge the victims of the massacre, including his father.
What I Liked About Where the Condor Flies
Frankly, there isn’t much that I liked about the story, except for a couple of things. For instance, in the story a few elements spread across till the end that ignited the spark, though it couldn’t turn it into fire. Then the excellent portrayal of life in 19th Century Mexico, which wasn’t ideal, to say the least. It shows glimpses of the dark history of the West, lesser-known to the eastern world.
The action, to a great extent, is also quite engaging. But again, as I said in the beginning, I’m not a big fan of westerns. In particular, I found the character of Ben Jackson fascinating, until he was caught by the sheriff’s men. Likewise, the only female character of significance, Lucia da Silva, also felt appealing.
What I Did Not Like About Where the Condor Flies
Well, there’s a lot that I didn’t like about the novel. First of all, the plot itself. I personally felt that the author, Longbow, could’ve easily made this a series, delving deep into the Battle of Alamo, the Mexican War, and other conflicts between the United States and Mexico. Even if the Battle of Alamo and the subsequent massacre were to be the main plot, the book could have come out much better.
Then, the storytelling of Longbow. For any author of fiction, the single most important craft is storytelling. And by more the telling, a good storyteller shows. The author tries to explain each and everything, including conversations between the characters, making it almost uninteresting for the reader. Making things too simple makes them boring, and that’s what the book is for the most part.
And last but not least, the characterization is extremely poor. Except for El Condor, Ben Jackson, and the Sheriff, none of the characters have enough meat. They are quite flat, predictable, and even unbelievable at times. Moreover, there are too many unnecessary characters in the story, without whom, it would have been as plain and dull as it is now.
Language & Readability
Language is simple and digestible, even for readers new to American westerns. The choice of words, sentence construction, and vocabulary are quite palatable. However, I thought that the flow of narration isn’t consistent. While is some cases, the inconsistent flow has no impact, in Where the Condor Flies, it distracts you. The readability of the book is average, though new readers won’t complain. It is fine for beginners, but for those looking for a rich reading experience, this is definitely not for you!
Even if you’re not a language nerd, you will find flaws in writing on more than a couple of occasions. Not is the sequence of connectivity but in the style of narration. Nonetheless, the book could seriously be a good Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino movie (with edits in the story, of course!).
Noman Shaikh is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bombay Reads. He grew up in Mumbai, a city he loves more than any other, and currently works as a content consultant. His expertise lies in creating high-quality academic and marketing content in the form of blogs, articles, op-eds, etc. Noman has worked with reputed brands, including Economic Times (through Spiral Media), Coinbase (through MattsenKumar), AdEngage, Della Group, GBIM Technologies, VAP Group, etc. For his published portfolio, click here. Contact Noman on noman@bombayreads for engagement.