I know I was not your typical little girl. Though I knew my realistic dream was to be a Mommy, my "fantasy" dream was to be a rough and tough mountain man. How exciting it must be to out smart the Indian, walk silently through the forest, and climb a tree faster than the squirrel!
When I was about seven my Daddy read aloud to my siblings and I from
"Down the Long Hills".
My very first "Louis L'Amour". I remember being swept right into the story, seeing every detail in my mind. And there my love for those Western stories was born.
These ten Louis L'Amour's are some of my very favorite that I read over and over:
Down the Long Hills:
My first Louis L'Amour will always be the most special. Maybe because I was the same age as the character, or maybe because I loved curling up next to my Daddy and hearing his voice bring the picture to life.
This story is about seven year old Hardy, and three year old Betty Sue. When his mother, and the entire wagon train, are massacred by Comanche's, Hardy struggles to survive with a toddler and his ever faithful horse Big Red. They encounter bears, outlaws, and Indians as they head West to find Hardy's Pa.
"Hardy Collins was seven years old, and he had never been alone before... not like this. He knew where the North Star was, and he knew the sun came up in the east and went down in the west. At home he had done chores around the farm, had run and played in the wooded hills with other boys, and for the last two winters he had kept a trap-line down along the creek. He did not know much more about the world except that pa was out west.
He did not know how to tell Betty Sue about what had happened, or whether she would understand if he told her."
This Louis L'Amour also begins with two young children. A twelve year old boy named Val and a eight year old girl named Grita. After their parents are murdered by a group of men, as Val and Grita hide together in the bushes, they lose contact of each other. Ten years later Val is searching for the man who led the men into their camp. He finds Grita again, who has become a famous actress, and together they put a end to their nightmare.
The first I read on my own was Bendigo Shafter. About a young man who travels West with a wagon train as they try to survive and begin a town deep in the mountains.
"Where the wagons stopped we built our home, making the cabins tight against the winter's coming. Here in this place we would build our town, here we would create something new."
The Lonesome Gods:
My very, very favorite is The Lonesome Gods. Though it has a "unique" title, its full of excitement and mystery. Most of the story takes place in the hot desert of California. A young boy named Johannes Verne is left orphaned traveling to California with his Father. His hateful Grandfather takes Johannes far away, deserting him in the desert to die. But Johannes Verne does not die.
There was a faint light in the sky when they stopped. It was an empty place of flat sand and broken rock and cactus. All around , as far as I could see, there was nothing but a few great boulders and the empty desert. "Here," the old man said. "Leave him. He is of my own blood, after all. If he dies-"
"Kill him now," the younger man said. "Leave him dead."
"I will not," the old man said stubbornly. "Leave him. Let the desert do it. I will not destroy my own blood even if it is mingled with that of scum. Leave him."
They started off, and filled with anger, I stood among the rocks. "Good-bye Grandpa!" I shouted.
He winced as if struck, and his shoulders hunched as from a blow.
They rode away, and I was alone.
Shalako is about a man who comes across a European group traveling through the heart of Indian country. He tries to convince them that they are in danger but the leader, a military man, assures him that he can handle the Indians. They are just uneducated people who don't have guns and couldn't possibly harm them. How wrong he is!
And of course, there is Louis L'Amour's famous family, the Sackett's. I love them all but my favorites are:
To The Far Blue Mountain
The Warriors Path
The Day Breakers
The Sackett Brand
"I'm just a storyteller, a guy with a seat by the campfire. And I want to share with people what I have found, and what I have seen, and the wonderful old voices of men and women talking of those bygone times."