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Posted April 7, 2008
A different perspective on 'Doc' Holliday
BORROWED TIME is S.M. Ballard's first in a trilogy about the life and times of John Henry 'Doc' Holliday. Before I read this novel, my first thought was What more can be said about Doc Holliday than has already been said? Boy, was I wrong! Until now 'with the notable exception of Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc in the movie Tombstone', Holliday has only appeared as a shadowy appendage peripherally attached to Wyatt Earp's coat-tails. Ballard, however, brings Doc Holliday to life in his own right, fleshing the man out while revealing little-known layers of his life. The reader feels as if he is observing first-hand Holliday's transformation from his genteel, cultured background as Dr. John Henry Holliday to the hot-tempered gunman/alcoholic who came to be known as 'Doc' Holliday. Ballard has thoroughly researched her subject and it shows. The Tombstone Times, Arizona's History and Information Journal, has published numerous non-fiction articles by Ballard, many of them about Doc Holliday. The character so engrossed her that the concept for a Holliday trilogy was born. BORROWED TIME is not another 'shoot-em-up-Tony.' While action abounds in this novel, two other story-lines run parallel to the main plot. One illuminates Doc's interpersonal relationships: his abiding friendship with Wyatt Earp his love/hate relationship with 'Big Nose Kate' 'Fisher' Elder who, by the way, did not have a big nose his antagonistic relationships with both Bat Masterson and Wyatt's brother Virgil. The other story-line revolves around Holliday's struggle to live as normal a life as possible while dealing with an illness that, in that time period, proved fatal more often than not. The reader, however, gets so caught up in the Doc Holliday character that, even knowing how the trilogy will ultimately end (we all die sometime) is in no way a deterrent. BORROWED TIME is a great read that will appeal to both men and women. I'm eagerly looking forward to HOLLIDAY in TOMBSTONE, the second in Ballard's trilogy due out in 2008.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 26, 2007
Holliday history done right.
Being a fan of all things Old West and in particular 'Doc' Holliday and the Earps, I decided to pick up a copy of 'Borrowed Time'. Almost instantly I found myself teleported back in time to places rich in detail and atmosphere. From the rolling plains to the bustling cowtowns, I could clearly envision myself in these settings. The descriptions were vivid as well as historically accurate which as a student of the Old West I found very satisfying. I could almost smell the smoke filled saloons, or feel the cold wind blowing in from the plains. Doc Holliday, usually portrayed as a one dimensional almost abrasive character in books and film was brought to life in Ballard's story as a living, breathing, complicated man complete with real emotions and a depth that's severely lacking in most other charaterizations. This not only applies to Holliday but all of the other characters as well. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Doc and Wyatt, conversations that seemed as natural as any you might have with a best friend. None of their interactions seemed contrived or stiff. The story telling, besides being richly descriptive, also had an easy going style and a nice flow, balanced nicely between dialgue and action. This was one of the few stories I've read, Western or otherwise, that I felt connected to the characters and cared about them as well. It was an engrossing novel I simply couldn't put down. A winner for sure and honestly I can't wait to read the second book in this series and anything else that S.M. Ballard writes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.