Who Fears the Devil?—The Complete Silver John (Trade Paperback)

4.40/5 (based on 7 ratings)

Our Price: $15.99


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by Manly Wade Wellman, with an introduction by Mike Resnick

There’s a traveling man that the Carolina mountain folk call Silver John for the silver strings strung on his guitar. In his wanderings, John encounters a parade of benighted forest creatures, mountain spirits, and shapeless horrors from the void of history with only his enduring spirit, playful wit, and the magic of his guitar to preserve him.

Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John is one of the most beloved figures in fantasy, a true American folk hero of the literary age. The Planet Stories edition of Who Fears the Devil? collects—for the first time—all of John’s adventures published throughout Wellman’s life, including two stories about John before he got his silver-stringed guitar that have never previously appeared in a Silver John collection. Lost, out-of-print, or buried in expensive hardcover editions, the seminal, unforgettable tales of Who Fears the Devil? stand ready for a new generation to continue the folk tradition of Silver John!

Introduction by Mike Resnick (Stalking the Unicorn, Starship: Mutiny).

208-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-188-6

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4.40/5 (based on 7 ratings)

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Interesting and Original Setting


Who Fears the Devil? collects all of Manly Wade Wellman's short stories about a character named Silver John. The stories feature an interesting and original setting for folkloric/supernatural fantasy (contemporary Appalachia) and a character that's more memorable than the traditional swordsman/gunslinger. Silver John is a wandering collector of backwoods songs, and travels from place to place with only the shirt on his back and a silver-stringed guitar. He is more of an archetype in some ways than a character with real depth and history, but for short stories that are plot-focussed, that's okay.

The stories are well-written and avoid formula, but usually involve some sort of supernatural menace that Silver John's pure heart and guitar can banish. Unlike most stories published in SF magazines in the 1950s and 1960s, there's a degree of continuity between the Silver John stories which I noticed and appreciated. According to the editor's introduction, Wellman also published a handful of novels about Silver John, and, fascinating, there was a motion picture featuring the character (it flopped).

A real treasure


It is fantastic that Paizo put out this collection. The Silver John stories are wonderful!

Gets two stars for names right off the bat.


The author's name and his character's name are what really attracted me to this book. Something about the name Manly Wade Wellman really speaks to me. Silver John also has a very folktale like sound to it. I knew I had to read it. He gets 1 star for each name right off the bat.

It actually took me a while to read this book, but that isn't because it wasn't good. It's because of all the short stories in it. While I could read through them quickly, I always did it in spare time. So I'd fly through a story and then be able to tear myself away and do other things I needed getting done. Where as other books with one main story draw me in and don't let me tear myself away so easily. But that's alright because it let me enjoy Silver John's adventures for a longer time.

Silver John is a wise, smart, and down to earth hero. I like how he is able to outsmart the bad guys when he can, but isn't afraid to get physical when he has to. A man I'd very much like to know.

It would get 5 stars, but I found some of the stories predictable. Maybe I've just been exposed to too many things and thats why I'm able to tell what's happening. As it is I'd like to give it 4.5 stars, but the Paizo system only allows five ratings, I have to give it what wha the system will allow.

I look forward to reading more of Mr. Wellman's work.

My favourite of the line so far


A delightful collection of well-written stories by an author I was previously unfamiliar with.
A rarely seen niche - fantasy Americana. Really not a weak story in the collection, even with some of them being extremely short offerings.

The main reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5 is that I am still struggling with the format. While the multi-column layout is true to the pulp origins of these books, I find it annoying. The interior art is fairly well-done, and the style actually meshes well with the style of the writing, but I still find the presence of the interior art an unnecessary distraction.

Still, an enjoyable read, and highly recommended!

Add my name to the list of those interested in the Silver John novels.

Wonderful Americana folklore


This book is great: it oozes the character of the American Appalachia, as its main character (Silver John, a silver-stringed guitar toting bard WWI veteran type) wanders from village to mountain, encountering various ghosts, witchfolk, other-dimensional Cthulu-esque beasties, and fantastic creatures. That Silver John manages to survive these various encounters is a testament to his rich Bardic Knowledge skills, luck, common sense, smooth talking, and Good Guy behavior.

The writing style is rich, with vivid descriptions and authentic American Appalachian dialect. The stories all vary in size, from a 1 page encounter with a woodland centaur to a 15 page encounter with a near-immortal witch survivor of the Salem witch trials, and all can be read in the "in between" (before bed, on train, in doctor's office, etc).

Overall a wonderful collection of American folklore.

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I've actually been waiting for the local Borders to get this, but they keep listing it as N/A. Mind you, I'm not sure if they've ever carried any Planet Stories here ..

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hot damn, I bought this the other day and it's really a rollicking good time. Wellman wrote in such a fashion that I can't help BUT hear the narrator in Johnny Cash's voice, and picture a young Cash righting wrongs in the Appalachians.

Thanks, Planet Stories!

The Exchange

Just a side note, if anyone wants to review the page edit,

I've added Paizo Publishing to the list of reprints of "Who Fears the Devil?" at:

cappadocius wrote:

Hot damn, I bought this the other day and it's really a rollicking good time. Wellman wrote in such a fashion that I can't help BUT hear the narrator in Johnny Cash's voice, and picture a young Cash righting wrongs in the Appalachians.

Thanks, Planet Stories!

Great stuff, isn't it? I love Wellman's voice, the character, and the weirdness in the woods.

Guilty of thread necro, but I'm guessing this is the inspiration for the new Bard archetype in Occult Adventures?! The Silver Balladeer. Very intriguing from what little I know/have read of both Silver John and the archetype.

Paizo Employee Developer

Seems to be, right? ;)

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Please re-issue this

James Vincent 507 wrote:
Please re-issue this

If you have the cash to spend, a publisher called Haffner Press will e releasing all the stories they had in this book together with all six of the Silver John novels in October 2019 in two big illustrated hardcovers for $90.

I sadly doubt Paizo will re-publish this book.

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