John the Balladeer


English language

Published July 1, 1988 by Baen Books.


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4 stars (2 reviews)

In John the Balladeer, the late Manly Wade Wellman gave us one of the most original characters in fantasy literature - a singer who, wandering through the backwoods of Appalachia, battles supernatural evil with his silver-strung guitar and the magic of his voice.

John first appeared in Wellman's stories in the 1950s, stories steeped in the folklore of the Southern mountains. Now for the first time ever, all 17 of the John the Balladeer stories, plus two sets of shorter vignettes, are collected together in their original, unaltered versions.

Here are the hoodoo men and witch-women who dwell in the back hills of North Carolina, strange supernatural beasts, malevolent spirits and even George Washington's ghost. Knowledgeable in the secrets of magic as well as the folkways of the people he meets, John the Balladeer faces these creatures with down-home charm and a brand of resourcefulness distinctly his own.

1 edition

Review of 'John the Balladeer' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

John roams the mountains of Appalachia carrying little more than his silver-stringed guitar and a rucksack with some provisions. Motivated by curiosity, he seeks out folklore and new songs to add to his repertoire. Along the way he encounters simple folk in need, sinister magicians, and supernatural horrors. John lives by his wits, the magic-defeating silver of his guitar strings, and his knowledge of folklore and biblical lore.

There’s a wandering outsider hero, black magic, and otherworldly menaces. These stories aren’t precisely sword & sorcery, but if you like that sort of thing, you’ll like THIS sort of thing.

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rated it

4 stars


  • Fantasy - General
  • Science Fiction - General
  • Fiction / Science Fiction / General
  • American Science Fiction And Fantasy
  • Fiction
  • Fiction - Fantasy
  • Fantasy