James Green aka Sudden is a
fictional charactercreated by the author Oliver Strangeand after his death carried on by Frederick H. Christian. The books are centred around a gunfighter in the American Wild Westera, who is in search of two men who cheated his foster father. Jim the young man promises his dying father that he will find the two and take revenge. He gives the name James Green to himself and in time gets accused of a robbery himself and becomes an outlaw.
The series details the adventures of a
gunfighterwho earns the nickname "Sudden" because of his lightning speed with a gun. Sudden is also characterized as an intelligent man who is respectful of the law, unwillling to use a gun unless absolutely necessary, humanitarian, brave, and strong. On his way he also gets pardoned by the Governor of Arizona and becomes the Governor's Secret Agent.
Some claim that the books use language unacceptable in a modern society brought up on a diet of politically correct language. Others argue that the language used is a product of the times, representative of a period when such language was commonplace. He also rides a black horse appropriately named Nigger, except in the Range Robbers, where he apparently tames and rides a wild female roan. This is probably to coincide with the meeting of his future wife.
Be that as it may, the lead character often professes respect for Native Americans, having been brought up by one; the books portray racism on the part of any character as bad and undesirable.
The books were first published around the late 1920s and the early 1930s. They featured vivid descriptions of the western American landscape, rare in an author at that time.
The series features conventional and repetitive story lines; a story typically revolves around Sudden arriving in a town that either has several unlawful elements or has a troubled clime. Sudden earns the respect of the townspeople, fights against all odds, defeats the oppressors, and protects the wronged and then rides out into the sunset. A characteristic feature is a boxing fight, in which the cowboy fights against an adversary without using any arms, and emerges victorious amidst narrations about typical cattle raids on ranches, brand swapping on the cows, bush-whacking and a shady bar cum saloon where all the townsfolk gather. In addition, several gun fights where Sudden's lightning speed with a gun is described. Further, in all the novels, Sudden befriends a young man who is not as capable as himself; this young friend then through the course of the narrative inevitably wins the hand of the girl he loves, except in The Range Robbers where Sudden is the one who gets 'tied up'. The recurring motif is that of Sudden succeeding in uniting the lovers, resolving all conflicts, and then riding away to other towns to search for two outlaws against whom he had sworn revenge for an earlier crime. In "The Range Robbers", he meets the two outlaws as well as his future wife.
Despite belonging to the potboiler league with conventional and predictable story lines and almost obvious plots, the novels are notable for the sharp cutting dialogues, one-liners, dry and laconic wit, fast pace, language style, and description. Further, they provide a reasonable description of the Wild West style-the living styles, the speech mannerisms, and customs.
Some dialogues of Sudden from his books are:
Sudden Rides Again: Where four rogues block the way of a girl in a saloon and Sudden says, "Go ahead, ma'am; if anyone gets in yore way yu'll only have to "step over him"."
In another book to a question as to what his business is, Sudden replies "well it ain't advertisin".
Absolutely great set of novels and with each one of them out of print, those that have them and love Westerns have a treasure.
Some readers have found that Frederick Christian not only copied two novels with almost similar story line, in fact he botched up Sudden Strikes back, where a bully tries to ride Sudden's horse and gets thrown down. The name of the girl who watches is shown as 'Noreen'. A similar situation is shown happening in the novel The Range Robbers. In the same way, Sudden at Bay has strong resemblance to 'Sudden'. In Dead or Alive, Frederick makes Sudden a widower - the references to Noreen clearly suggest her demise. Frederick Christian also created another character called Angel and repeated a few of the storylines like Sudden At Bay in the name of Angel.
Oliver Strange wrote 10 Sudden books -
* Sudden—Outlawed (1935)
* Sudden (1933)
* Sudden—Gold Seeker (1937)
* Sudden Rides Again (1938)
* Sudden Makes War (1942)
* Sudden Takes the Trail (1940)
* Sudden Plays a Hand (1950)
* The Marshal of Lawless (1933)
* The Range Robbers (1930)
* The Law o' the Lariat (1931)
Frederick H. Christian wrote 5 Sudden books -
* Sudden Strikes Back (1966)
* Sudden—Troubleshooter (1967)
* Sudden at Bay (1968)
* Sudden—Apache Fighter (1969)
* Sudden—Dead or Alive! (1970)
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