El Mosaico, Vol. 1: Scarred Souls

El Mosaico, Vol. 1: Scarred Souls - Michael Panush Clayton Cane was not born, he was created. During the American Civil War, in a plantation house a scientist used the darkest of arts to try and create a new source of soldiers for the beleaguered south by stitching together and animating the corpses of the fallen. He was destroyed before he could produce more than one – but Clayton Cane, with the memories of dozens, if not hundreds, of soldiers, was born.He is now a bounty hunter. Reviled by most because of his heavily scarred appearance, he is exceptionally good at his job, hunting and killing people and monsters no matter what arcane arts they practiceBut he is more than just a hunter and more than a monster, as we follow Caine through his adventures that take him across the United States and far beyond, there is definitely more man than monster to him. A man that can be moved by compassion, a man that won’t tolerate the victimisation of the innocent – and a man who is becoming tired of the trials of his life.I really like Clayton Cane as a protagonist. His monstrosity of both creation and appearance often separates him from humanity. A separation that is only increased by his job – bounty hunter, killer for hire – and his extreme skill at it. And he is good at his job and works to be this cold hearted, ruthless gun-for-hire. Yet he is human, he has a heart of cold, a conscience and a powerful sense of compassion that constantly drives him to help those who deserve it. His ruthlessly efficient dispatching of the guilty instantly melts when facing the innocent. Together it not only creates an awesomely complex character but also a character with a lot of pain, especially in the later stories where Cane is, more clearly, feeling the burden of living the life he does. Just by showing these conflicting sides and the constant rejection he faces, we have a far greater sense of his pain than we would have got from pages and pages of angsty whining.The setting was also intriguing because it was so wide. We have the character and we have the time period – in the 19th century. But Cane can be called not only across the United States and Mexico, but to London and Egypt as well – he roams to follow his work ensuring a great diversity of settingsI have said it before and I’ll, no doubt, say it again – I don’t like short stories. I find they’re usually very badly rushed to cram everything in, contain info-dumping, have little character development and either needed to be part of a greater story or didn’t need to exist at all. Which is why I was quite pleased to read this book because all the short stories in it did it right. Each story carefully contained, there were no loose threads and they were clearly more than prologues for a greater series or novel. They didn’t contain any irrelevant information, they didn’t pad and they didn’t rush. They’re wonderful little stories and they all stand on their own – with stories like these I could grow to like the short story format.The problem is that I am nearly sure that each of these stories did stand on their own in separate publications. In these separate books, they would have been excellent. But they don’t work nearly so well in one book.Read More