A Book of Tongues : Hexslinger

  • by Gemma Files
  • Narrated by Gordon Mackenzie
  • Series: Hexslinger
  • 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West's most dangerous outlaw gangs - the troop led by "Reverend" Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned "hexslinger," and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow's task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook's power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.
Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world - a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.
Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook's witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow's only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess's fate comes clear - the doom written for him, and the entire world.

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What the Critics Say

"(A) boundary-busting horror-fantasy debut.... fully delivers both sizzling passions and dark chills." (Publishers Weekly)
"Files' poetic prose is pitch-perfect: languid, precise and full of dark imagery..." (Justine Warwick, Rue Morgue #102)
"Gangs of New York rubs against the cross-genre cheek of True Blood, mashed with a healthy dollop pf J.R.R. Tolkien by way of a dusty, mud- and semen-caked Deadwood... truly one-of-a-kind, violent, carnal and creepy." (Fangoria)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

3:10 to Yuma with magic and a slash relationship.

What made the experience of listening to A Book of Tongues the most enjoyable?

I'm not surprised that the review above speculates that this novel stated out as fanfiction, as the plot contains all the erotic wish fulfillment typical of that realm. What lifts it is the quality of the writing- Gemma Files has an excellent command of the genre dialect and combines it with really tight poetic prose. The dialogue zings in the manner of a good Deadwood episode- which works well in the context of an audiobook.I really had to give full marks to Gordon Mackenzie for not only navigating some luridly vocal sex scenes but also singing western tunes and voicing a main character whose larynx was crushed in a botched hanging.The central triangle between small, violent, whoreson Chess Pargeter, fallen preacher Reverend Rook and ex-Pinkerton detective Ed Morrow really is the best part of the story. It's an erotic gay romance on an operatic scale, set within a hotchpotch Aztec-Native American--Buddhist-Christian (yeah, I know) mythological backdrop. I came to the audiobooks after enjoying reading the novels- and I can see how getting your head round the scale of the mythology might be daunting. However it makes sense in terms of strong fantasy world building- Wild West magic comes from all the competing cultures and civilizations that are thrown up against each other in this raw new country- Mexicans, Indians, hell-and-damnation Preachers and Chinese railway workers. It's hugely enjoyable to see how the author pulls all these elements together- and based on quite a lot of research, so you learn a bit! Without giving away too much, the trilogy follows a betrayal-revenge-restitution arc, so it's pretty satisfying, this first book covering the initial betrayal. As the author put it in a dedication, this is one for 'everyone else who has found themselves developing a sneaking taste for blood-soaked gay porno magic horse opera' but it does end up being greater than the sum of it's parts.


Would you recommend A Book of Tongues to your friends? Why or why not?

Erm...depends on their tastes


What does Gordon Mackenzie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A lot of the characters hide their emotions under a cool, gunslinger demeanor. Gordon MacKenzie made it easier to understand the subtext without losing the insouciance.


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes....the love story is convincing, and I felt for them. Also, it has to be said...this is way more erotic than 50 Shades.


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- Kbae

Promises a lot but fails to deliver

I disliked this book so much I returned it to Audible, the first time I have done that in over a year's membership of happy listening. I read reviews for Gemma Files' first Hexslinger book and it sounded right up my alley, violent Deadwood style Western, with dark, fantasy elements and the promise of sexy gay romance. Well, I was confused, disappointed and frustrated. Half the time I didn't have a clue what was going on, nor did I care much to be honest. I skimmed through chunks...all the 'supernatural shenanigans' (main character Rook's words not mine). The triangle relationship between the male leads did get my attention but that's only a small part of the story. The characters are underdeveloped, and there is just too much mumbo jumbo magic and exposition. The final annoyance is its lack of a proper ending, what you get instead is set-up for the sequel (which I have no interest in reading). I have read much better developed and more satisfying fan fiction published free on the internet, and in fact would not be at all surprised to learn this series has its origins there. At least the narration is well done.
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- Cerisaye

Book Details

  • Release Date: 27-07-2012
  • Publisher: Iambik Audio Inc.