Old Nathan - David Drake There is a big difference between copying and paying tribute. A copy steals the ideas of a better work with no interest in finding your own voice. A tribute is a work that pays homage to an artist and while using deliberate similarities, strengthens the original by adding new dimensions to the ideas.

Old Nathan is a tribute to the Silver John stories of Manley Wade Wellman. David Drake uses a similar idea and setting as Wellman's stories of a magic-savvy wanderer in the Carolina mountain. Yet Drake's themes are decidedly different. Old Nathan is a old cunning man, a mountain term for magician, living in the backwoods of Tennesee in the early 19th century. He is basically a hermit with no real fondness for mankind. Yet ever since he was wounded in a battle he has developed a talent for magic and an ability to talk to animals. Even with his mean streak, and I would have a mean streak if I was afflicted with his type of injury, he is instantly likeable and honorable. Drake uses a format similar to Simak's City, The book is ostensibly a novel but is really five short stories that makes up a continuous tale. This is very different, and much better, than Drake's usual military-minded sci-fi. The folksy dialect and references feels real and gives these stories an authenticity which only strengthens the feeling of respect Drake must have for Wellman's Silver John tales. Add on one of the most amazing endings I've ever read and you have a brilliant tribute that is outstanding on its own. I give this four and a half stars only because I would give Wellman"s Silver John tales five stars and I don't want to dis the master