A debut from Washington, D.C., attorney Punke describes the perilous adventures of a 19th-century frontiersman bent on revenge.
Hugh Glass apparently anticipated Horace Greeley’s advice about going west and growing up with the country, for that is precisely what he did. The son of a Philadelphia bricklayer, Glass became accustomed to living by his wits as a young man and during the War of 1812 made good money as a blockade-runner. Captured by Jean Lafitte’s pirates, however, he was faced with the choice of switching sides or walking the plank. He switched. Eventually he fell into the hands of the Spanish, who tossed him ashore south of Galveston and told him to turn north and keep walking. In Missouri, Glass joined an expedition of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and, in the novel, travels inland to trap and trade in what, 20 years after Lewis and Clark, is still largely uncharted territory. After being badly mauled by a grizzly bear, Hugh is left in the care of two comrades, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, who quickly decide that he’s a goner and not worth waiting for. They take his rifle and knife and abandon him to die alone. Miraculously, however, Glass not only survives but also manages to get back to St. Louis, even though he has to crawl much of the way. After he recuperates, his one thought is of revenge, and he sets out with all the tenacity of a good trapper to hunt down Fitzgerald and Bridger. Like any frontiersman, Hugh finds that he can’t hope to survive, much less succeed, without the help of the Indians, and he soon acquires a knowledge of their ways and lore. Eventually, his former betrayers find themselves face to face with a Revenant—a man come back from the dead.
A good adventure yarn, with plenty of historical atmosphere and local color.