Edge now fully revitalised after the ordeal in the town of Rainbow and then being nursed back to health by a young girl and her mother, books 3 and 4 respectively, rides across a seemingly deserted farmhouse. The house is not in disrepair but is deathly quiet, as if the inhabitants had just upped and vanished into thin air. Now being the inquisitive kind Edge rides around front of the house and finds himself smack in the middle of a wedding celebration – he even catches the bouquet which humours the half-breed but horrifies the bridesmaid.
After the initial shock Edge is made to feel welcome but when the half-breed takes his horse into the barn the murderous group of bandits led by Jake Tabor ride in and slaughter the wedding guests. Edge watches this from the concealment of the barn, feeling that the odds are against him and it’s not worth risking his life for these people who are all strangers to him.
This is a brutally violent scene with the bandit Tabor displaying a sadistic streak as he first leads the shooting of all the guests and then tortures the one survivor, hoping to discover the whereabouts of a fortune in silver that the woman’s late husband has hidden away, but when she refuses to tell the bandit where the silver it he coldly kills her but only after subjecting her to the most brutal torture. Throughout all this Edge remains hidden and only emerges once the gang have disappeared.
Edge is almost totally without emotion but he does display a rare streak of humanity when he picks up a dead child and places her alongside her mother’s body.
“You said you wanted to be with her kid,” he said and then went into the stable to get his horse.
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He then rides away from the scene of horrific slaughter. Soon Edge meets up with two inept bushwhackers who try to shake him down, but the half-breed turns the tables and decides to take the two men to the nearest town and collect the meagre bounty on their heads. The two inept robbers, Fats and Blue are wonderful quirky creations. Characters like these were always a particular strength of Gilman’s writing and although we know the two characters are doomed the passages in which they ride with Edge change the momentum of the book and provide a comic interlude before the mayhem starts up again.
And start up again it does – resulting in Edge, together with a full blood Zulu warrior called Anatali having to transport a fortune in silver, as well as a deeply ugly daughter of Mason Wilder, with the Tabor gang hot on their trail.
Blood on Silver is another superb entry in the legendary adult western series.