Author: Elmer Kelton
Publisher: Forge Books; First Edition edition
Copyright: May 27, 2008
The Barfield family, Arkansas sharecroppers, are heading west with their sons Jeffrey and Todd. In far West Texas their camp is attacked by Comanche raiders and the elder Barfields are killed and scalped. The younger boy, Todd, is taken captive by the Indians. The older son, Jeffrey, manages to hide and is rescued by the militia men. Jeffrey is taken in by a home-steading family, while Todd is sold, for a rifle and gunpowder, to a Comanchero trader named January.
Both become caught up in the turbulence of the Civil War, which even in remote West Texas, the border country with New Mexico, pits Confederate sympathizers against Unionists. The brothers, separated by violence, are destined to be rejoined by violence. Will they meet as friends or deadly enemies?
From Publishers Weekly
In 1855, young Jeffrey and Todd Barfield are orphaned in West Texas when their parents are killed by Comanches: Todd is carried off as a Comanche captive; Jeffrey is rescued by a Texas posse. For the next seven years each boy survives by his wits, hard work and good fortune—and each thinks the other is dead. When the Civil War arrives, the boys wind up on opposite sides during the Confederate Texas invasion of Union-held New Mexico, where meeting might mean death. As usual, Kelton (Hard Trail to Follow) provides stirring action and gripping suspense. His portrayal of the chaotic and bloody Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862 is thrilling, especially his chilling depiction of the murderous Union Major Chivington. This is vintage Kelton, a solid western story well-told. (June)
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In Kelton’s latest novel, we see the West from a slightly different vantage point, one about waist high. Two young brothers, Jeffrey and Todd, are traveling across Texas when their family is attacked by Comanche, who butcher the parents and ride off with Todd. Left hidden, Jeffrey assumes his younger brother is dead and finds a home with a couple who have lost their own son. Meanwhile, little Todd is swapped for an old rifle to a scheming trader whose unpleasant demeanor and selfish motivations belie a tiny nugget of goodness, and who is easily the most interesting character here. Too bad he drops out about halfway through. The story goes on to follow the two boys as they grow up and get rattled around by the Civil War before their inevitable reunion. As always, Kelton’s writing and grasp of the era are impeccable, but you can see the ending coming from the first chapter, and by the time it finally arrives, it’s a bit of a yawner. Still, more Kelton is always welcome for high-end westerns fans. --Ian Chipman
Other Books by the Author
Barbed WireBitter Trail
Day the Cowboys Quit, The
Far Canyon, The
Good Old Boys, The
Honor at Daybreak
Living and Writing in West Texas
Man Who Rode Midnight, The
Many a River
Shadow of a Star
Six Bits a Day (Hewey Calloway)
Time It Never Rained, The
Wolf and the Buffalo, The