An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption
Book 1 of a Trilogy
A little of Louis L’amore and Zane Grey with the faster pace of modern westerns.
This is an interesting tale of settling the mid-west commencing with Billy Battles, then ninety-eight years old, being visited by his daughter and her son, twelve-year old Ted Sayles, in a veterans home, where Billy is known as the oldest Spanish American war veterans there. Billy hadn’t seen his daughter in thirty years and this was the first time he had met, Ted, whom he took an immediate liking to. Billy was a tall man, over six feet, still standing straight, but his eyes were hard and he gave off an air of having lived a hard life. When Billy and Ted were alone, Billy told him he had two trunks of memorabilia of his past life, including twelve journals of his memoirs and that he would leave instructions for his daughter as to when she should give them to Ted. Over the next two years, Ted visited him occasionally and Billy would leave him intrigued with bits and pieces of his past. When Ted was a grown man, working as a foreign correspondent, his mother died and he took possession of the trunks a few years later. The journals commenced in the year 1878 and it was from the information in them that Ted wrote the story of Billy Battles.
Billy had grown up, and almost died twice while living in Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, the Philippines, French Indochina, Siam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mexico and Central America. He was well acquainted with some of the heroes of the old West like the Earp brothers, Bat Masterson and a few scoundrels. Book 1 of this Trilogy takes Billy as far as commencing to sail for Indochina.
The story is action-packed, using plenty of the hard language of men living hard lives during those years as they helped to civilize and settle the old West. The author also is adept at developing all of the characters and actions so that the reader feels like he is right there.
The weakness of the book, which surprises me due to the background of the author, is that too often when one or more persons are speaking, although their sentences are set off by quotation marks, the sentences are all included in one paragraph. It makes the reader have to back up and distinguish who is actually talking, which is poor punctuation. Also, three different times the action at the OK corral with Doc Holiday and the Earp brothers is repeated almost verbatim. One time, based on the author’s choice, would have been sufficient. The story is long and at times seems to ramble about “stuff” that adds nothing to further the tale.
However, regardless of those flaws, for anyone who enjoyed the old Westerns as written by Grey and L’amore, you will certainly enjoy this book. I gave it four stars only because of that flaw in punctuation, which is confusing to the reader.