Maps of Fate Era
Threads West, An American Saga – Books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Maps of Fate Era Novels
Book 1 – Threads West (Released 2010/2011)
Book 2 - Maps of Fate (released April 17, 2012)
Book 3 – Uncompahgre (May 2013)
Book 4 – Moccasin Tracks (Fall 2013)
Book 5 – Footsteps (Winter 2014)
Thus far the Maps of Fate Era novels of the Threads West, An American Saga series have been honored with TEN National Awards, including Best Romance of 2011 (Indies), Best Western of both 2010 and 2012 (USA Book Review) and Best Historical Fiction of 2011 (Independent Book Publishers Association – IBPA). Other coveted awards include Best Cover Design, Runner up Best Historical Fiction, and Runner up Best Romance (three awards!), from USA Book Review, Forward National Literature Awards, Indies, International Best Book Awards, and the IBPA.
In the spring of 1855, America is on the cusp of her great westward expansion, reluctantly on the threshold of becoming a world power. St. Louis, gateway to the frontier, booms with an eight-fold population expansion from just a decade prior.
Fifteen hundred miles to the west is the lawless, untamed spine of the continent, the Rocky Mountains. The power of their jagged peaks, rugged territories and vast resources beckon the souls of a few adventurous men and women, destined to love and struggle in the vibrant but unforgiving landscape of the West.
America draws individuals and families from all corners of the earth with the promise of land, freedom, self-determination and economic opportunity. Immigrants exchange the lives they know for the hope and romance of a country embarked on the course of greatness.
The revolt of Texas against Mexico, with the surreptitious aid of the United States, has resulted in vast new American terrain—unexplored western lands stretching from the Rio Grande to the Pacific, and north to the areas later to become the Kansas Territories and eventually, Colorado and Utah—magnetic draws for the restless and ambitious, and those in search of freedom and future.
The brave, passion-filled characters of Maps of Fate set forth on a dangerous journey as they try to establish life in this unknown wilderness, swept unknowingly into the tumultuous vortex of momentous changes shaping the United States and the West between 1855 and 1875, the years ensconced in the Maps of Fate Era. Secret maps, hidden ambitions, and magnetic attractions inherent in lives forged by the conflicting fires of love and loss, hope and sorrow, life and death, shape their futures and the destinies of their lineage.
America is in transition, the lives of the characters have been shaken by events they cannot foresee. Spurred by a lust for gold, land, and the conquest of Mexican territory, a massive westward migration begins. Railroads and telegraphs will soon pierce this wild land. The first newspapers in the west roll off the presses in Leavenworth and Lawrence, Kansas, and Platte Valley, Nebraska. Opposing stands on slavery ignite deadly hatred throughout the Kansas Territories. The budding enmity between North and South flares into the winds of war, and the remote fringe of the frontier falls into virtual anarchy as most of the meager army troops assigned to protect this area withdraw to the East.
On the front range of the Rockies, newly spawned Denver City, built on the banks of Cherry Creek, booms with the impact of gold discovered in the Pikes Peak area and the Ouray, San Juan and Uncompahgre mountain ranges. The Civil War erupts, and the fires of deadly tumult sweep west. Some of those manacled by the chains of slavery set their life sails to the winds of freedom. A Confederate Army mustered in Texas is repulsed by the Denver Militia. The broken treaties between the white man and Native Americans spread into bitter and contagious conflicts throughout the West. The “resolution” of the “Indian Problem” leaves families and hearts broken, forever staining the pages of American history.
Momentous change continues, igniting further greed and compassion, courage and treachery, rugged independence, torrid passions and fierce loyalties. The discovery of gold in California and the meeting of the tracks of the Burlington Northern Railroad from the east and Union Pacific from the west in 1869, underpin the rise of the robber-barons, cattle empires and commerce, drawing hundreds of thousands to the Rockies and beyond.
A tidal wave of hopeful souls follows on the trail of the strong men and women of Maps of Fate. Throngs of those displaced by the devastation of the Civil War add to the torrent of humanity flowing west. In the second, third, and fourth novels of the Maps of Fate Era: Uncompahgre, Track of the Moccasin, and The Footsteps), the first Thread’s West generation born in the remote and sparsely settled west begins to mature and contend with this cauldron of events, their lives unsettled by personal tragedies, triumphs, loves and loss. Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana evolve into separate and distinct territories, and then achieve statehood. Law and order struggles as outlaws linger on the outer edges and range wars erupt between the landowners and the landless, sheep herders, cattlemen and sod busters. The clash of cultures, creeds and beliefs, and bitter rivalries over the control of scarce water resources, fuels further violence and cruelty.
The decades of the Maps of Fate era novels of Threads West book series become the crucible of the American spirit. This violent but magical period in American history will affect forever the souls of generations, the building of the heart of the nation, destiny of a people, and the relentless energy and beauty of the western landscape. This is our story.
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Excerpts from Maps of Fate
©2012 All Rights Reserved
From: CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Prophecy
She felt the fire in the smooth caress of his fingertips as they traced across her breast, lingered on her erect and pulsing nipple, then continued down her hips and came to rest lightly, longingly, on the concave valley of smooth belly between her hips. The smell of him, and of them, mingled with the fragrance of sun-baked sage.
Her heart pounded, a strange tingling heat permeated her loins, and she could feel the blush in her face. This was a feeling she’d never known, could never imagine, could barely absorb on so many levels. She swept a soft palm over the cords of muscle in his arm. She was consumed by a desperate wanting, a deep primal need that overrode her butterfly fear of the unknown. She gasped, her hips writhing involuntarily as he lowered himself gently onto her. A momentary stab of pain was followed by overwhelming pleasure cum laude which enveloped her being as he slowly, carefully, began to sink into her.
She groaned, a muffled cry equally grounded in passion, trepidation, and longing. He stopped, tenderly brushed a calloused thumb slowly across her forehead and down her cheek and looked deep into her eyes, “Am I hurting you?”
She felt tears well in the corners of her eyes, bit her lip and shook her head, her full answer to him in the ever-tighter wrap of her arms around his shoulders, the increasing bend of her knees, and the firm plant of her heels against the muscular flesh of his buttocks, drawing him in.
From: CHAPTER FIVE: Renegade – ©2012 All Rights Reserve
The blade flashed in the sunlight and moved several times in a saw-like motion, its cutting edge making a swishing sound like a rough finger drawn back and forth across wet parchment. Black Feather rose, scalp in one bloody hand and the silver-red knife still dripping in the other. His bare muscular upper torso was etched in silhouette against the bright morning gray of Longs Peak and the Rawah Range to the west.
He raised bronzed arms high, tipped back his explosion of long, dirty, brown hair, shook the scalp and the knife at the blue sky that seethed with morbid pink-hued memory, and screamed in triumph. Around him, the unkempt members of his renegade band raised their rifles and bows to the sky and joined in his bloodcurdling expression.
He turned, lowered his arms, and spoke sharply in Spanish to a man with a mustache and round face, whose short, stocky body was wrapped in a serape that had once been colorful. He pointed the knife at the hysterical half-naked blonde teenage girl wearing only remnants of a ripped floral dress. She was being roughly held and brazenly caressed by two other men. “Pedro, have them bind her wrists. Wet the rawhide first. I want it tight. She is mine.”
The outlaw in the serape puffed out his chest. “But we always share—”
His voice died in a gurgle mixed with a meaty backhand blow to his face by Black Feather’s fist clenched around the hilt of the knife.
Black Feather stood glowering over Pedro, who rolled back and forth on the ground clutching his bloody nose and whimpering in pain. In the not-yet-full light of morning, the thick white scar creasing a corner of Black Feather’s mouth made more acute his narrow face and swarthy features and accentuated the cruel twist to his thin lips.
“One more word, Pedro, and your scalp will join those of the white eyes on my belt. If I tire of her, perhaps I will give you a taste, or perhaps I will kill her.”d
From: CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Revelations – ©2012 All Rights Reserve
Rebecca drew up her skirt and shook her head at the tiny explosion of trail dust every time she touched the fabric. After checking carefully for cactus, she eased herself down into a small grassy nook between the boulders along the riverbank of the Missouri. The circle of wagons was not more than one hundred feet away.
Above the gentle murmur of river current where it caressed the shore, she could hear the crackle of the campfires, tired laughter, and the clang of stirring ladles chiming dully against the interiors of the great iron pots suspended from tripods as dinner was prepared. Occasionally, muted male voices cursed softly in unison with the snorts of horses and the low brays of oxen as men carried water buckets to the livestock.
A diffused steel-gray curtain of approaching dusk stole towards her like a phantom from the east, downriver, gradually swallowing the rolling gold of the gently waving prairie grasses. To the west, the last rim of retreating sun blazed in an orange glory, its fading rings of red, then crimson, then pale yellow bidding a farewell to the day in concentric arcs of flaming color.
The vastness, the emptiness, the sheer space enveloped her, and the promise of tomorrow etched in the direction of the dying sun stirred a feeling of excitement and promise deep in her core.
“I wonder how you are, Mother,” she said aloud, sighing reluctantly to the remnants of blue disappearing into the evening sky. She tried to remember her bedroom and the cobblestone street lined by similar stately row houses outside the great front door of their elegant London home. She closed her eyes and lifted her face to the cooling breeze to focus on the memory, but the image remained fuzzy, as if from a long-ago dream.
From: CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE: Surprise – ©2012 All Rights Reserve
Sarah stood stupefied. She felt the tremor in her knees and the sweat of fear and heat dribble down from her temples in grimy streaks on her face. Dust, smoke from burning canvas, and gray puffs of gunpowder residue rendered everything ghostlike and surreal and softened the apparitional shapes of bodies and wounded, who were strewn in haphazard positions. The guttural whoops of the attackers, screams of petrified and dying horses, shouts in English, moans of pain, and the sounds of gunshots echoed among the wagons.
Sarah held the Sharps in one hand, breech open, ready for loading, and stared in shocked disbelief. The scene was incomprehensible. Through the haze that enveloped the wagons, she saw the shadowy figures of Mac, Reuben and Johannes sprinting to the breach where the wagons of the train had not quite completed their defensive circle. In that gap, Zeb, a knife in each hand, and two other men from the train, struggled in mortal combat with an increasing number of lance- and tomahawk-wielding invaders. Reuben and Mac each carried two rifles. Johannes had his carbine in one grip and a pistol in the other. His saber scabbard slapped against his leg as he ran.
Sarah saw him look over his shoulder, and could barely make out his shout, “Behind us!”
Johannes wheeled ghostlike in the brownish-gray cloud that enveloped the conflict, took calm steady aim, and fired once from the Colt. The rider of the horse bearing down on the three jerked violently from the impact of the .44 caliber slug and somersaulted backward over the rear of his steed. He lay unmoving, barely discernible in the ground-swell of dust.
Sarah’s eyes quickly searched the nearby wagons. Jacob had disappeared. Her mouth fell open when five rigs away she saw Harris upright and wrestling with a much smaller Indian who was obviously after the heirloom American flag that hung ripped, tattered and limp in the semi-opaque heat on the family’s wagon. Below him, his wife Margaret expertly wielded her Enfield musket like a club, keeping yet another attacker at bay. Two men from another wagon were running to assist them. Disbelief knifed through her numb detachment, “What type of people are these who risk their life for a piece of old cloth?”
“Sarah, load the damn rifle!” Rebecca’s frantic voice shouted above the din.
Jolted back to reality, Sarah, trying to control the trembling that had overtaken her body, jammed the cartridge into the Sharps with shaking fingers, then handed the long gun to Rebecca who, in turn, gave her the rifle she had just discharged. Rebecca turned, rested the receiver and fore stock over the lip of the wagon front as a rest, and began to swing the bead of the muzzle of the re-armed weapon as she found a target.
Without looking back, Rebecca commanded in a loud voice, “Inga, reload! Be quick about it!”
Pressed against the side of the wagon box, Sarah fumbled in the saddlebag, draped over the wagon wheel, for the next round. She heard a whisper in the air, almost the sound a small bird makes on a calm, peaceful evening in the stillness just before dark, and then a sudden, hollow resounding thud. A woman’s voice screamed in pain and terror.
“Just want say how much I like this story. Johannes is a rascal, and I love rascals! Epic storytelling, detail, and dialogue. Rascals! Passion! Action! Real! Keep writing the Threads West series!”
Max McCoy. Author of the 4 Indiana Jones and 18 other novels, Screen Writer for Spielberg’s Into the West, Multiple National Award Winner, Professor of Creative Writing
The sweeping saga continues! Reid Lance Rosenthal has done it again in Maps of Fate, the second book in the Threads West series. This well-written and rich, sweeping saga is packed with adventure, romance, history, conflict, and emotion. It’s as riveting as the first book of the series and continues the journey of memorable characters who seek their destiny, fight for what they believe in, and work as hard as they love. This book is a page-turner by an author with a deep love and respect for the unvarnished and rarely written-about history of the American West, including Jewish cowboys/settlers from Europe. The many riveting threads of the characters in the saga unveil the struggles of settlers, cowboys, mountain men, Native Americans and slaves from about 1855-1875. The Native American threads of the story ring true and poignant, as authentic and moving as Dances with Wolves. Far more romantic/sexy than McMurtry ever wrote, Maps of Fate reveals the dark underbelly of the development of the West as well as its shining triumphs. The women are not just eye candy in a costume historical. Maps of Fate is the real thing, the West coming alive and growing, and this story has a real feel of how the West was won, by men AND women. Well-researched, recommended read, five stars!
Eve Paludan, Two time #1 National Best Selling Writer’s Digest Author, and author of The Man Who Fell from the Sky and Taking Back Tara
“Reid Lance Rosenthal outdid himself with this novel. His settings and descriptions are stunning. I survived that snowstorm – felt the cold wet damp of the snow creep into the bones. The heat of the sun, warming a back, slashing through branches. The smell of a campfire, the tang of raw game, the stench of battle. I was there, traveling with that train every step of the way. What a trek! The plot is excellent. The weaving of the stories together and apart flows easily, creating an incredible depth of experience for the reader…But it’s Reid’s people that just blew me away. (I hesitate to call them characters – that would insinuate that he made them up…) They are as real – if not more so – as most of the people I have ever met. I know Rebecca better than most people I have ever gone to school with. People I worked with for years have never solidified in my memory the way Sarah and Zeb have…Maps of Fate flowed perfectly, without having to stop and think about where everyone was and when… I love that – running into people I know.
I felt a surprising sense of appreciation for the diversity of the author’s people and plots. Every group – cultural, religious, racial…Following Eagle Talon’s journey, Israel’s escape, Black Feather’s tragedy, as well as the wagon train’s travelers, all of whom come from even more layers of origin, makes for a rich blend of experience, perspective, and understanding. Ironically, it is this attention to our differences that magnifies so greatly the similarities between us all. Americans may have started out on a million different paths, but it’s the strength, determination, and perseverance that all American ancestors had in common, regardless of where they came from and how, that created your purpose. As a Canadian, and a proud one, I know that we have a similar heritage. But whereas we describe our country as a mosaic, we see yours as more of a melting pot. There’s a lot to be said for that. And Rosenthal says it beautifully.”
Romantic Shorts http://www.romanticshorts.com/
Book Two, set in 1855, picks up where book Number One left off, finding the subjects of the saga hurtling toward unknown destinies, serially driven by one adventurous , dangerous, romantic twist and situation to another. Armed conflicts; Indian and renegade terrorists and plunderers; the explosive and divisive issue of slavery; the discovery of gold all congeal and rain down a host of unexpected challenges. Our subjects are forced to defend their lands, their loved ones and their honor. The entry of new personalities: lost souls, hopeful; naïve; evil and good provide still more-sweet-and-sour seasoning to this historically based literary smorgasbord. “An unexpected convergence of events sets in motion the thrilling, yet heartrending conclusion of Book Two setting the stage for the 3rd book of the series.”
Rosenthal has a pallet for a typewriter. Every word is drenched in color as if weighed on a scale of emotion before it is artistically implanted in its sentence. Gritty and explicit, no holds barred he breathes life into every page. Here are some good examples the editors have place on the inside cover to entice readers and illustrate this artist’s sensitivity .
Episode 1–“Don’t you dare ‘Now Lucy’ me,” she wagged her finger at him, the digits crooked from years of manual labor. “You know it’s against the law for our kind to read.” Peeling his thick-glassed spectacles from from one ear, and then the other, Israel ignored his wife, cleaned the lenses with his shirttail, and thought about what he had just read: “New York–January 17, 1855–“Slaves Find Help in Escape.
Episode 2–”She felt the fire and the smooth progress of his fingertips as they traced across her breast, lingered, then continued on her hips and came to rest slightly, longingly on the concave valley of smooth belly between her hips. The smell of him, and of them, mingled with the fragrance of sunbaked sage.
Episode 3–”Mac lowers the spyglass. “It’s Zeb and he ain’t wasted no time getting back.” His grey bushy eyebrows furrowed in contemplation. “Ruben, tell folks to get out their rifles and gather in every other wagon. Get 5 men on horses, and come back up here. I choose Johannes, Charlie, John, Harris and that swine Jacob. He is always looking for a scrap.” He nodded down at the holstered Colt on Rubens hip. “I would take the thong off that hammer, son.
Episode 4–“The farmer spoke in a crackling voice. “Whatever you want. Please, this is all we have.” The smoothbore lay across Black Feather’s forearm, its muzzle pointing at the man’s head. “We already know that we can have whatever we want.” Black Feather let his eyes slip to the hysterical girl. Her gangly shape was just taking on the form of a woman.”
Rosenthal, a multiple number 1 best-selling international award-winning author, dedicates the book to to his mother, June; his literary editor, Page Lambert and his daughter, Jordan. And to America–her values, history, people, and the mystical energy and magical empowerment that flows from her lands.
It was not surprising to find Book Two (450 Pages) just as absorbing as its predecessor (228 Pages). Rosenthal captures the spirit of Western America and saturates readers with the crudely shaped integrated cultures, and mores that shaped the character of our country. As he says, If your heart pounds at the clash of good and evil and if with each twist and turn of interlaced lives you feel a primal throb, then I have accomplished my mission.”
Reviewed for Travel Smart Newsletter by: John H. W. Rhein III
I just finished Maps of Fate and was given the distinct privilege of reading an advanced copy. All I can say is “Amazing”. This is the second book in a series called, Threads West, An American Saga. After reading the first book I was impressed with the author’s style and ease at telling the tale and introducing the characters to the readers. The descriptive writing style flowed beautifully and you found yourself lost in the book not realizing how long you had actually been reading. As I began reading Maps I found myself swept back in time and fully immersed into the story. The characters are real….I felt like I was there with them. Never have I been so moved by the written word of another.. I wept so many tears for loves lost, battles fought and hearts broken. You could feel the emotion that they felt. Not to spill the beans, but…I felt much satisfaction from a little revenge!!
One thing that struck me is the way this author could so easily pull you in. By the way, the author is a guy…not only a guy but, a guy’s guy. Reading his words, I must say .I had to keep reminding myself of that. hahaha…I have never met a man that can express so much emotion, be it the male or female characters. Not only is there a clear message of courage and strength in these characters but, also the undertones of love of country, respect of our great land and what it means to be a citizen of this great nation of ours. In the trouble times of today, it is such a gift to be able to step back and feel what we all should be feeling now.
I come from a very long line of pioneers and being of Native American descent on one side, my father’s and Italian immigrants on my mom’s, I have lived and breathed much of what is in this book. Finding ones place in this world…and by place, I mean your spot on this earth that truly calls you and speaks to you and gives you that sense of HOME and something that stirs your soul. I’ve lived in the east, in fact was raised there and lived on the west coast having had something call to me and am now settled deep in the heart of Texas. I’ve traveled across this amazing land and it never gets old. The expanse of the beautiful country and how it speaks to you and will call to you was truly felt while reading how the characters grew from the experience of crossing our great land.
This is a must read!!!! and one of my daughters will be starting to read Threads West, the first book in this series and continue on. She is 16 and I feel it is quite appropriate for her age and very educational.
Bravo, Mr. Rosenthal and bring on book 3.
Leigh E. McCourt Bandera, TEXAS
Who ever would have thought that a fourth-generation cattleman and rancher…would have the imaginary zeal and literary prowess to bring to fruition in a series of novels of sweeping grandeur the essence of the evolving landscape of the largest nation on the North American continent?
Yet that is exactly what Reid Lance Rosenthal has done, and is continuing to do, in Threads West, An American Saga. Following on his first, much acclaimed volume in the series, Threads West, comes Maps of Fate, which has already garnered a host of awards in the Western, Fiction and Romance categories.
Rosenthal’s command of the nuances of the English language is fluent and strong. His descriptions range from the sensual and evocative, such as in his exploration of the relationship of the Native American Walks with Moon with her husband (“She savored the warmth of his whispers.”), to the harsh and dramatic, as is so clearly visualized in his account of the renegade marauding party (“Black Feather rose, scalp in one bloody hand and the silver-red knife dripping in the other.”).
Rosenthal is as aware of the intricacies of his own language as the characters are of themselves…and their surroundings…
Apart from his excellent characterization of his entire cast, Rosenthal also pays conscientious and painstaking attention to details of the setting in which he portrays his wide-ranging cast, going so far even as to pay attention to minute intricacies of dress.
Rosenthal’s incisive and dramatic revelation of the core elements of spiritual and moral fibre that have contributed to the making of the American nation makes for an unforgettable saga that has already been favorably compared to Larry McMurtry’s best selling Pulitizer prize winning account of life in the American West, Lonesome Dove (with the promise of Rosenthal’s work surpassing the other in both scope and extent)
Rosenthal’s incisive and dramatic revelation….favorably compared to James A. Michener’s inviting glimpses into the entire history of North America in…Centennial (…Threads West series being more focused in time, thus allowing for greater in-depth exploration of character).
With growing awareness of, and interest in, the unfolding and evolving saga, it is likely that Rosenthal’s epic masterpiece will come, in popularity, to rival even some of Louis L’Amour’s best loved work.
Lois Henderson–Bookpleasures.com, Reviewer Lois Henderson: Lois has a MA General Linguistics, BA (English) Honors, Higher Education Diploma, Higher Diploma in Library and Information Science – indexer of more than 130 books; editor of dozens of theses and study manuals at university and college level.
Reid Lance Rosenthal has done it again!! His second book of the Threads West, an American Saga series, Maps of Fate, brings all the excitement, adventure, romance and passion of the first book and more. I was drawn back into the lives of his cast of wonderful book one characters from the first page and thrilled to the new personalities I met in book two. My idea of a really great historical novel is one that will take me back in time and invite me to stay amongst its characters, feeling what they feel, seeing what they see and experiencing everything they experience. Maps of Fate is such a novel! Rich in locations…atmospheres…American history, long on nail biting action, and spiced with romantic sizzle, you will definitely love Maps of Fate!
The thrilling and riveting Threads West An American Saga Series continues in Book 2, Maps of Fate, as factual fragments of our American heritage come to life. This author’s literary style allowed me to actually feel the emotion of the triumph of victory and the anguish and despair of defeat as immigrants from varying continents embarked upon the trials and temptations of the magical and mystical journey into the depths of our American west. As the diverse characters headed westward seeking the dream of a better way of life, freedom, and the promise of economic opportunity, I felt as if I were in their midst as temptations arose and torrid passions ignited. My heart raced as the threads of the lives of the characters gradually began to weave together, some finding lifetime friendships, others finding destined, true love. This talented author’s obvious love of God, the land, and the people with his vivid and beautiful descriptions of, “America the Beautiful”… overwhelmed me with the feeling of true respect for all cultural ethnicities, races, and religious denominations. The thrill of steamy and passionate love is around every corner. The suspense is intriguing!! This author’s factual portrayal of American History, events, and pinpointed locations of the land in book #2 is once again, superb.
J Bailey –South Carolina
It is said, the story chooses the writer. If that is true, then this epic saga and gifted writer were inevitably destined to come together, and so they did.
The author with his narrative magic, made a very impressive entrance on to the literary scene with the introduction of Threads West: An American Saga. The story captured our attention, ignited our imagination and left us waiting impatiently for the next chapters to be written…In book two, Maps of Fate, the story continues to unfold into an absorbing tale about a group of brave individuals and their arduous and dangerous journey as they migrate west…Through superb dialogue, meticulously detailed description, provocative subplots and a diverse cast of characters, the author takes us on an amazing journey that stimulates our emotions, stirs our imagination and excites our spirit… I believe you will agree with me that this incredible story and remarkably talented author were clearly fated for one another…
Nancy K. –Denver, Colorado
An enjoyable Western adventure story, Reid Lance Rosenthal’s Maps of Fate takes the mixed cast of characters from book one of Threads West on a wagon train across America in the late 1850s. Readers really don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this story, and I never found myself referring back to it. While there are lots of characters, the structure of the wagon train keeps them well-defined—who lives in which wagon, who rides with whom etc. Nicely drawn details of everyday living bring the world to life, from how to circle wagons to the problems of crossing a river, from jerky fires to women’s laced boots, Kentucky long rifles and the feel of a horse’s “warm, moist muzzle” brushing a character’s cheek.
I liked the sense of North America about to contract as railroads promise development. Slavery’s becoming a national issue. Immigrant Jews are moving West. And Indians struggle with broken treaties as wrong-doers on both sides erode their sense of trust.
The novel follows the wagon train to journey’s end in a small town, with miles yet to be traveled, maps to be studied and claims to be set, but the story still has a pleasing sense of completion, even as characters come to the fore. Book three will, I’m sure, be just as interesting.
I enjoyed book two more than book one in this series. The history, while not completely accurate, was pleasingly evocative. The writing, while occasionally wordy, felt appropriate and kept me turning pages. The characters became deeper, making me really care about them. And the dialog felt true to life. An enjoyable Western, sufficiently complete to satisfy, complex enough to build genuine mystery and character, and sufficiently incomplete to leave the reader wanting more, this one’s a good solid read, evoking a life long gone in a world of possibilities.
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“Movin’ ‘Em Out”
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