Top critical review
A mixed bag
on April 20, 2003
I picked up this book because the intro on the back cover sounded good and I've liked almost every L'amour book I've read. Its written in a first person narrative as though he was sitting across from you on the couch telling the story.
The first half of the book is terrific, following his escape from England. We learn of his thirst to be out in the wild open spaces of the newly discovered America, he is falsy accused and is running from the law collecting people to join him as he describes the new beginnings they can have in the New World. Its very tightly written (though I think his escape from prison was way too easy) and you really love the character.
Once the group got to America things changed. In an effort to show the WHOLE life of Barnabas the whole story changes, now we have 50 years of history in 100 pages. So the narrative changes from a day-by-day upbeat story where friends are joining the group to a list of significant events, usually where one of the group dies from an indian raid. It becomes a series of "we built a fort", "xxx died in an indian raid", "the fort burned down", "we went down to sea and traded our skins for supplies", "yyyy died in an indian raid", "we built another fort", etc.
I didn't like the ending either, I think the whole story basically got pretty depressing towards the end with all the group dying or leaving to go off and do other things. All the next generation were grown up and strong but we don't have the emotional connection with them that we did with the first group.