Despite my love of Westerns, I’d only read a couple of Louis L’Amour’s novels prior to this one, plus his autobiography. I just wasn’t a fan of his style. But I wanted another Western series to get into, so I decided to give L’Amour another chance and read some of his Sackett series. I’m still not impressed.
Barnabas Sackett is the patriarch of what will become the Sackett clan in the New World, but when this first book of the saga opens in the late 1500s he’s a poor landholder in the fens of England who happens to stumble upon a few Roman coins unearthed in the marshes. While in town selling the coins he makes the mistake of offering a thirsty woman a drink, much to the chagrin of her arrogant and noble brother. The rest of the book is Barnabas selling his coins, buying trade goods, going to America, trading with Indians, coming home rich, and all the while fighting that noblemen and his hired henchmen.
The problem is that Barnabas, who we first think is a rather common dude eeking out a living in the fen, is actually some kind of freaking superman who somehow knows everything about everything, is a better swordsman than career soldiers and lifelong pirates, knows how to sail a ship, can instantly blend with rich city folk despite almost never going into town before finding those coins, etc. Who can identify with that?
The Walking Drum was the same way with its American Indian test pilot who was shot down over the Soviet Union and had to escape over the Bering Strait.
To be fair, I still haven’t read a L’Amour Western novel. I need to give him a try at what he was best at, I guess.