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Another installment in L'Amour's voluminous history of the Sacketts, the Shafters, and others in their emigration from the British Isles to the Carolinas and West of the Mississippi. The tone this time is Homeric in its cadences, almost too self-consciously so: ""There is a pleasure in working with the hands and muscles, a pleasure in the use of good tools, and I gloried in the grip of my hands upon the are and the smell of honest sweat and fresh pine wood."" This is the way the novel goes, forever opening and elaborating in these rolling, dignified phrases. Young Bendigo Shafter is one of a handful of settlers who begin a nameless town in the far hills of Wyoming. He's alone in the world, except for his older married brother Cain (who wants to set up a blacksmith shop), but recently widowed Ruth Macken takes Ben's education in hand and starts him off on books from her library. Winter catches the settlers, but not before Ben has built widow Macken's cabin for her and has come to love the building of this hamlet. A large train of passing Mormons, who are starving, is put up by the settlers, although they haven't enough food even for themselves. Later, the Mormons repay. Meanwhile, Ben rescues a strange girl stranded in a cave, who turns out to be an actress and his life's love. Eventually, he follows her East and gets her to come back West with him. Feuds, Indians, harsh weather, a cattle drive from Oregon--all become rich homespun for L'Amour's paragraphs and finely woven storytelling. After last year's Fair Blows the Wind, L'Amour is further west--and much closer to his hickory-smoked home ground.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1978
Publisher: Dutton