Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Reading this book is like watching a John Wayne movie. It's as clean, moral wise, and as a bloody, shoot 'um up wise, as they come. L'amour is rather good with word pictures. I could see why Sky would like this book, esp. after Utah comes across the stallion, after which no other horse was quite good enough for him. Knowing how much Sky loved her horse, this book makes sense for a Sky pick.

This was my first western to read and probably not my last either. (I may wait awhile though.) Like I said, I could see the storyline being played out on the big screen as I read along.

Things I appreciate about L'amour's style:

1. He describes his character's action in vivid detail;
2. In his description, he leaves plenty of room for imagination;
3. He draws you into the scene, which is usually hot and dusty, making you very thirsty;
4. He clearly distinguishes between good guys and bad/honorable men and dishonorable. There is no second guessing. It's a pretty straight shot;
5. He completely respects his female characters.

I think the most impressive thing about this book is the value he places on femininity. Sure, the two women in this story are rough-and-tumble chicks, shall we say, but there's a softness about them that is not ignored by the half dozen men in the tale. It is clearly stated and known that if any of the men were to harm the women, swift and decisive punishment would be dealt out. Even though the bad guys didn't like how the women sided with Utah, they were hands-off in their approach to using force against the women. Only one bad dude decided he might try to take liberties with Angie, the main love interest, and was quickly shut down by his co-conspirators. No elaborate word pictures were painted, just a solid truth: women are valuable even as the weaker sex. It was a refreshing change from modern day tales that play up the women's roles in such a way that women are treated just like the men - in every respect. Torture, pain and punishment are dealt out to the modern day female in the same ways as the males. Kudos to L'amour for his courtesies.

Meanwhile, I can easily see myself allowing any teenage boy of mine to pick up a L'amour book and have at it. I'll read a few more just to be sure, but my guess is that it's a safe and rather honorable read!

Thanks, Sky, for the recommendation.


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Sky said...

The reasons you liked it are dittoes of my likings!

LL's story-telling always leaves me wishing I were back in the saddle and wandering over the mountains, he describes my land so accurately and beautifully that I can feel my horse under me and smell the mingling of sage and sweat.. Good times!

I also love that the books stay true to the western code, you honor a man for what he does, no questions about his past. Good women were left alone. Bad women were used but respected. You didn't hit a woman, not unless you wanted the whole town after you with a lynching rope! Women were honored because they were scarce, the ones who were out West were there because they were tough, they had fought indians, cholera and weather, they stood by their men and sometimes they stood alone, there are many true stories of women that staked their own claims and made good.

LL was a true western spirit and he talked to many cowboys who lived in those gunblazing times, alot of his scenarios are based on things he saw first hand or heard from someone who was there.

Don't stop with one of his books or even his westerns!

The Walking Drum is about a man called Kerbouchard in 12 century Europe.

The Last of the Breed is about a U.S. Air Force Major who gets stranded in Russia and escapes prison and then walks across the Bering Strait while being hunted by a man who wants his scalp.

Have I intrigued you?

At 4:06 PM, Blogger BLF said...

I agree with both of you on the positive elements of this book. To be honest, I'd always steered away from any of Louis L'Amour's books just because they struck me as having the potential to be too stereotypical. But my book club in WA read The Last of the Breed, and I came to realize just how enjoyable L'Amour's books can be. (By the way, great book--surprisingly interesting, given that much of it just follows a lone man in the Siberian wilderness.)

About Utah Blaine, it's an easy read, but no less pleasant. L'Amour's descriptions are very good and left me with a clear idea of the landscape and the people. It wasn't what I would consider great literature, but nor is Agatha Christie, and I've torn through most of her books. For the most part, it was just plain fun to read, and I always like a fun book. I'm a little skeptical about his presentation of women and the Western code. Truthfully, I thought it was idealistic, although I don't know much about the history of women in the West. But I'm willing to go along with him for the ride. And why would I want to read something that is completely realistic? Isn't that what fiction is about--being able to imagine something better?

So, I guess I'll have to read more of L'Amour's books. The one you recommended, Sky, sounds great: The Walking Drum. Anything even remotely medieval has my interest.

Thanks for the great choice!


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