Thursday, October 02, 2008

Comstock Lode - by Louis L'amour

I cannot tell you how magnificent I feel being back on this book blog, I have tried to pull my brain out of soccer, school, puddles of potty and baby spit up to give a good review and I hope you enjoyed the journey this book took you on!

I own almost a thousand books, and being a Navy wife I’ve grown accustomed to the packers groaning as they see my bookshelves.

Hardbacks are great because they don’t fall apart as fast as paperbacks but for my favorite books I prefer the feel of softness and lovingly worn pages that a paperback gets, Comstock Lode is one of these.

Louis Lamour was a rigid researcher, he didn’t write anything unless he could back it up historically in some way, in this book he takes an historic western town and gives it life. Each character is put in for the strategic reason of getting to know the time, the place and the people who lived there.

I love books that have a vast cast of people woven in and out of the pages, it takes great imagination and a whole lot of work to write a plot that encompasses an entire continent and dozens of people.

Through these pages we follow the life of Val Trevallion, witnessing the most horrifying moments of his life and seeing him grow into a man able to cope with the hardships of the western frontier. We meet his friends, people like Crockett the mine owner, Jim Ledbetter the packer and Melissa the lonely woman.

We respect Val because he works hard and has the valor to help those who need help and kill those who need killed. For it was men like Val and women like Melissa and Grita that made the West a safe place for families, they were the law before there was structured law, without good people fighting for right and justice the scum of mankind would have thrived off of the pioneers, taking what they wanted and leaving a trail of blood behind.

My favorite side characters is Jacob Teale, he is an excellent example of what kind of men tamed the West, yes he is definitely on the rough side, and he had killed before but never “without a cause” and he did cross the line of the law when it suited him to do so. However he also had a strong sense of honor, and once that honor had been appealed to he had the compulsion to follow through with it, and he does, all the way to the end. As he says when Grita first approaches him; “Ma’am you don’t need to give me nothin’. My old mammy would turn in her grave did she think I was takin’ money for protectin’ a lady.”

I also like how much we get to know the villain Albert Hesketh, we understand him and feel a pity for his hopes, for the dreams that he has killed so many people to fulfill. Yes, we feel sorry for him but do not regret his end. And he dies the way he should, no honor, no glory, just death.

This book is full of the west, the good the bad and yes, the hardworking man who just does what he can to make a home for his family.

I have had the privilege of being to Virginia City, it is very strange to walk the hills that not so long ago were a part of our Wild West.

To view the rocks and sagebrush you would never think that anyone would survive there long enough to live. It took tough men and women to carve out their place in history and leave a legacy behind.

Comstock Lode is a great fiction to read if you want to get a feel for the western people that blazed the trails for the rest of us.

And maybe, just maybe we will feel the western hospitality and help a neighbor once in a while, out of remembrance to the ones who had no one but the stranger next to them on the hill.