Louis L’Amour was not just a prolific writer. He was good. Real good. L’Amour didn’t just write westerns. He wrote mysteries, and action-adventure stories. Indeed, one of my favorite books by L’Amour was Last of the Breed. But, it was with western fiction that L’Amour showed his true genius at story-telling. His tales of the Old West are the best ever written.
If you’ve never read a western novel by Louis L’Amour, you’re missing a treat. He is the Dean of Western Fiction. All other westerns pale beside his. He knew how to captivate the reader, knew how to make you like the hero, even with his flaws, and was so very good at drawing those fine lines between good and evil. Treat yourself and get one of his books. You’ll come back for more. Try the Sackett series. Those were really good ones. You can browse in the Amazon Louis L’Amour Library and find them. Check out the video trailer below “The Shadow Riders” which was based on a L’Amour novel. Or, take a look at Hondo, which is a classic L’Amour book made into a movie (a personal favorite).
The Sacketts 4-Book Bundle: Sackett's Land, To the Far Blue Mountains, The Warrior's Path, Jubal SackettAn epic spanning multiple generations in one frontier family, Louis L’Amour’s Sackett series is perhaps the crowning achievement of one of our greatest storytellers. Now, for the first time, the Sackett origin story is available as an eBook bundle featuring Sackett’s Land, To the Far Blue Mountains, The Warrior’s Path, and Jubal Sackett. These four novels chronicle the arrival of the patriarch on American soil and the unforgettable adventures of his sons as they strike out into the wilderness of a sprawling new land.
After finding six gold Roman coins buried in an English swampland, Barnabas Sackett invests in goods to trade in America. But he also has a powerful enemy with a grudge that goes back to Sackett’s father. On the eve of his departure, Sackett is attacked and thrown into the hold of a pirate ship. After managing to escape, he makes his way to the Carolina coast, where the raw, abundant land promises a bright future. However, before that dream can be realized, Sackett must first discover the secret of his father’s legacy.
TO THE FAR BLUE MOUNTAINS
After returning to England, Barnabas Sackett discovers that finding his way back to America to make his fortune may be impossible. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and men are searching for him in every port. Believing that Sackett possesses a rare royal treasure, Queen Bess will stop at nothing to find him. If he’s caught, not only will his dream of a life in America be lost, but he will be brutally tortured and put to death on the gallows.
THE WARRIOR’S PATH
When Yance Sackett is called upon to rescue two kidnapped girls—one of whom is his wife’s young sister—he corrals his brother Kin and together they race north from Carolina to find her. Arriving at a small town rife with superstition, the brothers learn that someone very powerful was behind the girls’ abduction. To bring the culprit to justice, Kin sails to the exotic West Indies. There, among pirates, cutthroats, and ruthless “businessmen,” he will apply the skills he learned as a frontiersman to an unfamiliar world—where one false move means instant death.
Jubal Sackett’s urge to explore has driven him westward, and when a Natchez priest asks him to undertake a nearly impossible quest, Sackett ventures into the endless grassy plains the Indians call the Far Seeing Lands. He seeks a Natchez exploration party and its leader, Itchakomi. It is she who will rule her people when their aging chief dies. But first she must vanquish her rival, the arrogant warrior Kapata. Sackett’s journey will bring him danger from an implacable enemy . . . and show him a life—and a woman—worth dying for.
THE SHADOW RIDERS
It is not commonly known that westerns fueled much of the hatred of the Indian by Americans in its early history. Western fiction, in the form of “dime novels,” became the tool used to alter the cultural perception of millions of pioneers. Dime novelists placed images of the Indian into the minds of these early settlers who devoured these early works of pure fiction that produced horrific prejudices. But, it is true that some of the tribes such as the Blackfeet and the Comanche gave credence to the wild, unfounded tales found in the dime novels produced by the tens of thousands by the House of Beadle and Adams.
All good fiction has some basis in fact. But, even bad fiction (which most of the dime novels were) plays with truth. A good western novel will attempt to convey some measure of reality, even if the setting and the people are exaggerated to a small degree, and even if there is a romanticizing of the setting. Zane Grey was one of the best at romanticizing the Old West.
Here is an excellent summary of how the movie industry has solidified that image.
Those who settled in the American West in the 1800′s came to realize that some of the tribes of Indians were to be feared. But, most of them were friendly in the beginning. There are many instances where Indians helped travelers, mountain men, and even the Lewis and Clark expedition. The French trappers had been in the West decades before the Americans and gotten along with the various tribes.
But, as the Americans pushed westward, conflicts grew. In early Tejas (soon to be Texas), the Mexicans and the “Texicans” came to fear the marauding Comanche Indians, together with the Apache. The Comanche would terrorize the entire land of Texas and down into Mexico, for the Comanche knew no boundaries. They roamed where they wished, took what they wanted, and murdered anyone who opposed them. Indeed, stories abound of tales of stark, unmitigated terror at the hand of the Comanche in Texas, from the days of Steve Austin and even into the 1870′s.
So, there was a factual basis for the hatred of the Indian by many. However, it was commonly known that not all Indians were to be feared and not all Indians hated the white man.
But, the advent of the dime novel would change that.
One of the earliest Westerns they published was Seth Jones, or, The Captives of the Frontier. The first printing of 60,000 sold out immediately. It was also translated into half a dozen languages. Eventually, this title would sell more than 600,000 copies. This was not uncommon. They had many other titles sell similarly.
Quindaro, or, The Heroine of Fort Laramie illustrates perfectly, the kind of fare that was regularly offered which had a profound affect on the minds of the millions who read the story. Quindaro is the hero in this western, written and published in 1865. He is an avowed Indian hater, but he is also something of a Puritan, in that he has the perception of the West as a kind of Garden of Eden, a place given to deserving Americans by God, especially to test and spiritually prepare God’s chosen for the thousand year reign of Christ, that period of time in the Bible known as the Millennium.
Mary is Quindaro’s sweetheart. When Quindaro inquires as to whether she is willing to leave her wilderness home to go to a civilized world, one she’s never seen, she replies: “I have read of the ‘Garden of Eden,’ where our first parents were so happy. And I have pictured to myself even a brighter scene, where intellect controls the actions of mankind. But, there was a serpent in Eden. Is there any such where Christian men and women dwell?” Quindaro confesses that such as live in that civilized world have amongst it, “such serpents as cursed the beautiful garden.” He sees the elimination of the Indian, indeed, the eradication or complete extermination, as the plan of God, a divine order as it were. This idea would permeate many minds and cause men who were otherwise Christian in their views, to view the Indian as subhuman, a creature not worthy of redemption.
There was no television to alter the minds and attitudes of people as we have today. There is little question but that we, as a nation, have had our culture affected in many ways by television.
Dime novels were America’s “television” and millions “tuned in” to every channel.
Like now, not everything was worth a nickel, let alone a dime.Luke Adams was a fun-loving, hi-yu cowboy from Tennessee, but who finished his growing-up chasing long-horn steers through sagebrush that cut chaps like a razor and quickly made men out of boys.
Luke is one of those young men who grew up in hard times, doing a man's work years before he was grown. He also learned early in life to take care of himself, and had learned to shuck a gun quicker than most men.
But, Luke's life as a care-free cowboy came to an abrupt end one white-hot Texas summer day. Three riders came upon Luke while he and another cowboy were at a line shack gathering strays and branding calves. The riders were chasing rustlers.
One of the men was a hothead, the son of a powerful, local rancher. He insisted that Luke and his friend were the rustlers.Luke convinces the leader of three riders, an older man with moves Luke considered to be like that of a big cat, that they had the wrong men. However, he shouldn't have discounted the rancher's son. It was a mistake that would cost several men their lives before all was done.
Luke tells it this way:
That kid though, he was like a dog when you take away a piece of meat he's about to sink his teeth into. He just went mean all of a sudden. Even though I'd put away my Colt, I was still watching close. Hadn't been that I was still watching, I might have missed the kid's move because he drew his gun without me seeing it. All I caught was his wild eyes and the twitch of his right shoulder, and I dove for the dirt and yelled for my partner to do the same as me.
That kid got a shot off, but it went into the earth right beside his own horse because my shot took him right out of the saddle backwards. I heard him scream and heard him hit the ground with a heavy thud. He made no sound after that.
After the dust settles, Luke is warned by the older man that there will be some hard riders coming after him because Briner, the rancher, was a powerful man who would want revenge, and it didn't matter that his kid was in the wrong. The man would have the Texas Rangers looking for him, and he'd be sending his own crew of gunmen.
Luke immediately heads for New Mexico Territory. He is tracked, but manages to elude the men chasing him. Once there, Luke partners with three other men and they buy a small ranch. All goes well for nearly a year. Luke even manages to fall in love. And then one day, Briner found him.
The rancher and every hard-case that rode with him would one day regret they found Luke Adams. They'd regret accidently hurting the girl Luke loved, and would regret shooting one of his partners. The hard-case gunmen that rode with him into New Mexico, would learn that they had come to hang a man who wasn't quite what he appeared to be. He wasn't the usual cowboy who wore a gun for the coyotes, snakes, and other critters. A gun was as familiar to Luke as a rope. He'd spent years as a kid jerking a big, bone-handled .44 out of his waistband and firing it, until he could catch a jackrabbit on the hop and a squirrel on the run.
Those Texas riders found a man who was tougher than the land in which he lived. They also discovered that they had created an enemy who became a relentless foe. They encountered a man who reached a point where he was not content to just defend himself.
They found a man who hunted them.
Down to the last man.This exciting western fiction novel will keep your attention all the way through. There's romance (Luke falls in love and his biggest surprise in life is that she loves him), there's plenty of action, and even some cowboy humor. Luke Adams is a funny man, and a lover of good cowboy jokes. You'll like him.
The American frontier comprises the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American westward expansion from the original colonial settlements to the early 20th century. Enormous popular attention in the media focuses on the second half of the 19th century, a period sometimes called the Old West, or the Wild West. As the American frontier passed into history, the myths of the west in fiction and film took firm hold in the imagination of Americans and foreigners alike. America is exceptional in choosing its iconic self-image. “No other nation,” says David Murdoch, “has taken a time and place from its past and produced a construct of the imagination equal to America’s creation of the West.” [Wikipedia]
It is impossible to gauge the impact that the experience of the Americans who flooded into the Old West had on our nation. It instilled within the psyche of Americans a kind of independent spirit, a sense that nothing could stop us and nothing could impede our progress.
American men fought Comanches on the Texas plains, in spite of the fact that these plains warriors were the scourge of Texas. They were brutal, merciless, and brought terrorism to Tejas and those who dared live there, for decades. But, they didn’t run. They stayed. They endured the attacks. They fought back. Texas ranging companies were formed, later to be called the Texas Rangers. Texas bred men who rose to the challenge and eventually challenged these marauders, these early American terrorists, in their own ground, on their terms: by horseback, out in the wilderness, on horseback, with only their weapons and their courage and skills. These Rangers began to win battles with this fierce, savage band of wild men.
The American spirit of individualism and never quitting, even against all odds, was born in the western frontier. It is that spirit that shocked Japan and amazed an entire world when they saw Americans rising to the challenge, in spite of being down, in spite of being hurt terribly. This same spirit would be demonstrated in our fight against Germany. Hitler and all of Germany discovered in Americans a fighting spirit that was unstoppable. They found the Americans would not run. Japan and Germany watched in awe and fear as American men charged into hellish gunfire on beaches and jungles around the world. If they’d read a bit of American history, particularly the American experience in the Old West, that frontier that existed in early America, they’d have known that Americans would not run, and that they will, in the face of danger and attacks, eventually go on the offensive.
Ask Saddam Hussein. Ask Osama Bin Laden. Ask Hitler.
In America, the Old West has been fictionalized. But, while some of our history has been made into great stories, some of the real heroes of the Old West were not fiction. They were the real deal. And there are many stories, many western fiction stories, that are based in fact. The stories really happened. Indeed, the half has not been told of the heroes in America’s frontier past.
We’d be speaking another language.
Some videos that may interest you dealing with the American Frontier
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One of the premier writers of westerns was Louis L’Amour (now deceased). He wrote over one hundred novels, most of them westerns. Estimates range from 200 to 300 million copies in print, with many of them turned into movies. The Sackett series have proven to be some of his most popular western fiction series.
Westerns turn up everywhere. Inevitably, when kids are trying to gather all of their parents’ stuff after they’ve passed on, they will find in the attic, or the basement, boxes, or bags, of paperback westerns because Dad loved westerns. And, more than likely, he loved L’Amour and there’d be some of his books in the boxes and bags. Finding a good western fiction novel is pretty easy.
Curling Up with a Good Book Wrote this about Western Fiction
Known simply as westerns, these novels about life on America’s post Civil War western frontier usually involve conflicts between cowboys and outlaws, cowboys and Native Americans, or Easterners and Westerners. While this category still has a mass-market audience and a thriving regional market, it’s not the popular genre it was 25 years ago.
If you’re interested in writing a western, contact the Western Writers of America
Zane Grey and Louis Lamour, both deceased, are still among the popular western writers.
Read more: Curling Up With a Good Book