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Title: Lonely on the Mountain
Series: Sacketts #17
Author: Louis L’Amour
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Tell, Orrin and Tyrell Sackett get a note from their cousin Logan that he needs a herd of cattle driven to some place or other and that if the herd isn’t delivered before the snow falls he’ll hang. The Sackett brothers begin.
They gather a herd, realize they have enemies to deal with and have adventures. The herd gets scattered in a stampede, a girl is seeking her brother and no one has heard from Logan again.
The Sackett brothers overcome all, find Logan and rescue a small group of settlers that are being starved out by desperadoes searching for gold.
Well, this was the final Sacketts book written by L’Amour, chronologically speaking. I enjoyed my time reading this book but it did rather meander, much like a cattle drive and the ending was so quick that I blinked and whammo, I was done the book.
That is ok because it gives me more room to talk about this series as a whole in wrapping things up.
I started reading the Sacketts almost 3 years ago with Sackett’s Land. More of a historical fiction than western, it set the tone for Clan Sackett. Loyalty, responsibility, a high regard for education and the written word, a love of honor and all things Right, a respect for the Law even when you thought it was wrong. The Sackets also did whatever they set their minds to. They didn’t give up or allow their circumstances to dictate their actions. They were what Real Men want to be. Personally, while I would love to emulate men like those portrayed in the series, I’d be ok with a little less gun play and a LOT less fisticuffs. I’m just too pretty 😉
I think L’Amour used this series to showcase how great he thought America was. He didn’t believe it was perfect or had sprung forth full grown, immaculately conceived. The birth of America was a bloody and dirty event and it’s growing up years were just as tumultuous. But it was glorious (!!) and L’Amour wanted to show that glory in the examples of the best of the men and women who forged this country. In many ways this series was a Love Letter to America. It was also a reminder to the up and coming generation that everything they had was built on the backs of men of character and what their forefathers had sweated blood for they, the current generation, better not take for granted. Yes, these stories were romanticized, but what do we all dream of that isn’t? We dream for a reason, because reality is gritty and full of failure and despair. We dream because we know in our very souls that there MUST BE something better.
On a less salubrious note, this series also showcased all of L’Amours strengths AND his weaknesses. He was a franchise writer and he had deadlines and he’d recycle story lines and not worry about keeping things completely straight. If a character was going to get married at the end of one book, L’Amour saw that as no impediment to making said character be single in a later book. There was very little cohesive narrative beyond Names. I might be reading my own meloncholia into things but sometimes it felt like L’Amour was foretelling the fall of America. If men stopped being men of character, then the whole country would suffer.
The other thing I’d like to talk about, for just a sentence or two, is the covers. Since these started out in the 60’s and finished up in the 80’s, with multiple re-releases and the latest installment coming out in ebook in the early ’10’s, they showcase the era in which each was published. It is an education to look at various publications to see what was expected from a western novel throughout the decades.
Overall, while I never rated these above 3.5, I still enjoyed the time I spent reading. Ride the River would probably be my pick of the litter if I had to choose one to elevate above all the others. I just checked though and I gave Lando 4 stars. Mainly for the macho boxing fight at the end. I’d still recommend Ride the River in general, as mano-a-mano isn’t for everyone.