I have to say, with "At the Well of Eternity," I was sadly underwhelmed. It just kind of went from scene to scene without any real drive or focus. I'll just list my (several) dislikes. Agree/disagree as you wish:
1) Gabriel is pretty much perfect, but by that token, he's cookie-cutter and bland. What traits stand out that we really haven't seen before? The man has no flaws--physical, personal, emotional, or otherwise. I don't like reading about "ideal" characters. They're boring.
The guy knows how to do pretty much everything and has everything at his disposal. What challenges him, then? Why does he do what he does? The nearest I could tell is some arbitrary selflessness to rescue some mysterious girl he just met
at a museum who gets kidnapped. It doesn't make for compelling reading when he gets out of every single situation with very little damage (physical, mental, or otherwise). By virtue of being perfect, Gabriel has the virtue of being unlikeable, too.
2) The blatant overusage of the word "Colt." Good lord, this drove me insane. Every freaking time he uses that gun, you have to see the word "Colt." It appeared so many times that it lost all meaning. There is this thing called a "thesaurus." USE IT.
Let me illustrate: John drove his Ford down the street, then parked the Ford against the curb, and then turned off the Ford's ignition. That's kind of an overstatement, but after 50 or so pages of this, the writer in me began to gag. Oh, and the fact that he got a gun through customs makes this seem like a fantasy land.
3) I HATE these characters who are rich by some unspoken virtue. Why is he rich again? What did his parents do? I honestly don't remember. And they brought the "my rich parents died so I inherited everything" back. Yawn. Batman did that 70 years ago. Much like the actual character of Gabriel, the fact that he's wealthy undermines any possibility of believable struggle; he could theoretically buy or bribe his way in (and out) of everything.
By being rich, he's removed from being empathetic. Indy had a job, as unlikely as it was: recover the Ark. Why does Hunt try to find the Well? Because he wants
to. Being able to jaunt from New York to the Everglades to Mexico to Central America by private jet doesn't make me empathize with this guy. Indy had poultry-planes in Temple and a cargo bay in Kingdom. Be gritty, dammit--get your hands dirty.
4) It's not very realistic at all, and Gabriel gets away with a lot more than he should. He has a car chase on a NYC bridge, a shootout in the Everglades, AND a shootout/carchase in Mexico, and he doesn't get pulled in for questioning? Are we seriously supposed to buy that? Again, it's not really conflict if the character doesn't struggle with the logical world and with the repercussions of his actions. I can suspend my disbelief only so far.
5) If this is supposed to be "pulp" literature, why is it FULL-PRICE? That was the point of pulps; cheap fiction at cheap prices. $7 (at least when I bought it) is steep when you consider much better fiction, and longer, too, could be had for the same price. To put it bluntly, that was the trade-off of pulp; it cost less because it didn't have the same literary "weight".
6) I know I shouldn't hack on the cover, too, but I will. I hate hate HATE when cover-art has those "boilerplate" covers. You know the ones, like Goosebumps used to do. It immediately tells me this is going to be churned-out series instead of the focus on being one book at a time.
Take the Dirk Pitt novels. Each cover design is unique in its own right, and they normally have a "Dirk Pitt" mention on there, but they don't look exactly the same. Often the art is thematically reflective of what's happening inside. I do
like the actual "pulpy" art. Too bad they didn't implement it in the same vein as "The Colorado Kid" by Stephen King.
Oh, and real men don't wear shirts that are that fugly teal color. EVER.