Friday, June 28, 2013
The Last Trail by Zane Grey
Frankly, I was surprised that I enjoyed this novel so much. I have always thought of Grey as a man's writer so I was taken aback at the centrality of the romance in this book. Since it is vintage fiction, there are VERY negative stereotypes of American Indians and also the unfortunate use of the "n" word (once). But it was a rollicking good story that caused me to skim as many paragraphs as possible to get to the action.
The story takes place just after the American revolution. Jonathon Zane is a border man "out west" in the Ohio valley who protects the settlers from outlaws and Indians. It's an all-consuming job which leaves no room for family attachments. Helen Sheppard is the newly arrived pioneer who is about to change all that. The book is called "The Last Trail" because when Zane goes off to break up a band of horse thieves he knows it will be his last adventure. He'll either get killed or give it all up for the love of Helen.
The women in the book are beautiful (but hardy) and teach Sunday School. The men cuss and kill injuns. But in spite of the stereotypes, the mild cussing, and the melodrama, I was hooked on the story from start to finish. Some of the dialogue is laugh out loud funny. Good vacation reading. And free on Kindle.
P.S. I read Betty Zane, the first in the trilogy, a year later. In that book it's a bit harder to ignore the stereotypes. Both the settlers and the Native Americans are bloodthirsty savages.