Book info

Comanche Moon (2000)

Comanche Moon (2000)
Rating
3.95 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
0684857553 (ISBN13: 9780684857558)
languge
English
series
publisher
simon & schuster
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Comanche Moon (2000)
Comanche Moon (2000)

About book: In my review of Lonesome Dove, the masterpiece of this saga, I recommended that the reader read Lonesome Dove first as a stand alone novel and then go back and read the others. Here, my recommendation is entirely different. Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon are, in my opinion, companion novels. They are best read together because without each other, the story may feel somewhat incomplete or in some manner disjointed. When read together, however, McMurtry's purpose and theme becomes quite clear.Make no mistake, Comanche Moon and Dead Man's Walk are NOT as good as Lonesome Dove. Few novels are. They are, however, great novels in their own way and that is what is important to take away. Thematically, these two novels are wholly different than Lonesome Dove and should be treated as such. This isn't a retread of the same story with our favorite characters. Indeed, our favorite characters Gus and Call do some things in this novel Comanche Moon that should make the reader question whether or not they are still the "good guys" we think of them as in Lonesome Dove and Dead Man's Walk. In either case, there are three primary themes to this novel, as well as Dead Man's Walk which should be read first followed immediately thereafter with Comanche Moon.First, the west is survived, not won. There are no great battles of good versus evil and there is no situation in which the white settlers defeat the Comanche through skill or courage in battle. The Texas Rangers, and by extension the white Texas settlers, outlast the Comanche. They never defeat them. Indeed, both Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon sort of wear the reader down with the constant and seemingly endless struggle for survival that pit Gus and Call against the elements as much as against the Comanche, the Apache, and the frustratingly elusive Ahumado. It is not because Gus and Call and other Texas Rangers finally learn how to defeat the Comanche that Texas is made safe for settlers, but rather due to time, circumstance and sheer numbers. Whether this is historically accurate or not (Lawrence Sullivan Ross and other Comanche fighters might take issue with this version of events) is beside the point. It is meant as a story of survival in the world, not as one simply in the Southwest. Second, McMurtry explores the relationships between fathers and sons and the legacies societies leave behind. Woodrow Call and Buffalo Hump strike a bizarre mirror image of one another, and yet that is what McMurtry invites us to explore in the legacies left behind by their two sons, one claimed (Blue Duck) and one unclaimed (Newt). Third, death is the overriding theme in both Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon. It is ever-present. It is constant. How different peoples and cultures faith death is heavily explored. The white characters, by and large, resist death as fiercely as they can with the exception of [SPOILERS] Maggie Tilton, who seems to accept it with a dignified honor about her. On the flip side, both Ahumado (an embodiment of pure evil) and Buffalo Hump (an honorable adversary) both embrace death when they deem it is their time to die. These actions of accepting death personify the conflict between the white settlers and the native inhabitants as the natives begin to accept the inevitable, as do the individual characters we come to know. Moreover, death in this novel is not just in terms of human life. It is also the death of a WAY of life. By the end of Comanche Moon it is clear to Gus and Call [SPOILERS] that they are no longer needed. The Texas Rangers are to be disbanded and their way of life is ending as well. They simply survived longer than their opponents, though their way of life dies with them. In summation, after reading Lonesome Dove I recommended the novel to everyone and anyone. Here, I wouldn't do the same. This novel, as well as Dead Man's Walk, is not as exciting nor is it as charming and endearing as Lonesome Dove. Comanche Moon and Dead Man's Walk are, however, a story of survival and a harrowing version of "how the west was won."It is worth noting for readers going into Comanche Moon and Dead Man's Walk that Buffalo Hump and Kicking Wolf are as much main characters in these two novels as Gus and Call are and if one is to truly embrace the story McMurtry is telling, the reader must embrace that notion. In a very real way, Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon tell McMurtry's tragic tale of Buffalo Hump and the decline and death of the Comanche on the south plains.

I don’t understand myself. I flinch whenever torture is portrayed on screen or in books. My knees buckle. I suppress a wave of nausea. If there must be a killing, let us be done with the deed as fast as possible and hope that the victim had it coming. Yet, reading “Comanche Moon,” I found myself galloping across the bloody plains dodging one mutilated body after another in this, the second chronological book in the Lonesome Dove series. McMurtry understands our species' ghoulish fascination with death and dismemberment, especially of the imaginative variety, and he splashes bright, bloody paint across sunsets and red rock landscapes. An element of Quentin Tarentino combines with an element of John Ford to form the unstable and radioactive McMurtry compound-- overstated (comic violence) mashed with understated (elegant elegy). McMurtry puts me in touch with some atavistic alleles holding down some dark corners of my id. I squawked out a Comanche war cry and charged headlong into McMurtry’s frightening vision. Gus and Woodrow, famous from "Lonesome Dove" (the novel to start with), are portrayed here as Rangers in the vigor of early middle-age. Gus's loquacity is ever with us. Trying to cheer up a fellow Ranger fearing for his wife in the Great Comanche Raid on Austin, Gus jokes: "Now Billy, don't worry... Pearl's too bossy to steal. She'd argue those Comanches to a frazzle. I expect she'll be there ready to boss you, when we get back." The Rangers are blessed with a colorful cast of well-developed allies and enemies, most of whom appear in other installments of the Lonesome Dove quartet. Famous Shoes—the serene and dignified Kickapoo tracker-- guides the Rangers across the harsh Llano Estacado (the staked plains). Buffalo Hump, the Comanche War Chief recognizing the end of an era, unleashes a campaign of slaughter from Austin to the Gulf of Mexico in the Great Raid of 1856. But two new and outlandish characters, Inish Scull and Ahumado, who appear only in this volume, steal the show. Captain Inish Scull quit the Harvard faculty to lead Texas Rangers because he ''saw no reason to be teaching military history when he could go out in the field and make it.'' Scull quotes Greek and Latin poetry and habitually punctuates his conversations with the unique exclamation— “Bible and Sword, men! Bible and sword!” Scull also peppers his didactic monologues with literary and historical allusions, lost to his mostly illiterate Rangers: "Now boys, look there! See that? There's your Alps. If you find yourself in Switzerland or France you have to cross them before you can get to Italy and eat the tasty noodle. That was Hannibal's challenge. He had all those elephants, but the Alpine passes were deep in snow. What was he to do? Now, by the way, your Mongol Hun cooked his meat by horse heat." When Kicking Wolf, a Comanche horse thief steals “Hector,” Scull’s beloved horse, we learn where Scull’s true priorities lie--but if you have read the book, you will know what I mean when I say, he will learn to keep his eyes wide open in the future.Another character is Ahumado, the vaquero bandit, rumored to worship ancient jungle gods like Jaguar and Parrot. This outlandish villain seems to compete against his own devilish imagination to devise ever more creative tortures—which may have you guffawing in wonderment at his garish methodology. He often recruits insects and reptiles into his schemes, and later we witness irony involving a small arachnid. I spent my teens on the Llano Estacado and traipsed across every acre of the Palo Duro Canyon (the location of much of "Comanche Moon’s" action), so I recognized the people and the country portrayed by McMurtry. This harsh landscape summons all heroic individuals—Native Americans; Hispanics; and whites. Despite the different races and skin tones, they all belong to the same tribe—tough sons (and daughters) of bitches. This book is loved by all their descendants, among whom I am one. Out on the high plains you do what you must to survive. If you cannot scale these steep canyon walls and track these blood trails, stay home with the shopkeepers and clerks back East. August 2, 2013Links to my reviews in the Lonesome Dove Quartet:Dead Man’s Walk (1)http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...Comanche Moon (2)http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...Lonesome Dove (3)http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...Streets of Laredo (4)I have read but not yet reviewed.
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Reviews
Tess Mertens-Johnson
This book is a prequel to Lonesome Dove.This book had well fleshed out characters, and the characters were the book.Texas Ranger Augustus McCrea and Woodrow Cull were the lead male characters. They commiserate about lost loves, father children and befriend Native American along the way.Inish Scull, Famous Shoes. Guiding Call Buffalo Hump and McCrae round out the cast, as well as Maggie, in the good old boy western saga There were torture scenes that made me squirm with the “skinning” of others. The stuff nightmares are made of…I did enjoy the book…just a tad long for me
A
Plot – 4, Characters – 4, Theme – 3, Voice – 4, Setting – 5, Overall – 4 1) Plot (4 stars) – After his horse is taken by a famous Comanche thief, an old Texas Ranger captain sets off after him on foot only to end up in one of the most brutal Mexican bandit camps on the frontier. To me, that was the plot. Much more than the adventures of Call and Gus, the usual protagonists of the Lonesome Dove series. And I eagerly ate up the pages about the ornery captain, the clever Comanches, and the torturing Mexicans, while skimming through the 50% of the book devoted to the other characters and plotlines.2) Characters (4 stars) – Captain Skull was funny and wise and brave (very much like Gus in Lonesome Dove). The Comanches were not savages, nor were they saints; they were not simply white men in loin clothes, but nor were they so alien as to not have human hopes and fears. And the Mexican bandits were so enthrallingly cruel—skinning people alive, hanging them in cages from cliffs, cutting off eyelids … what an awful and fascinating spectacle to watch from afar. McMurtry does an amazing job with each culture, showing us what it would be like to be in the head of someone raised in that worldview (e.g., there’s a Shaman who eats armadillos to grow a protective shell on himself). I have no way of knowing if this is an accurate portrayal of these people, but even if it’s not, it is impressively imaginative. 3) Theme (3 stars) – I wasn’t quite sure what the moral of this installment was, besides maybe the power of testing yourself, of not only facing but seeking adversity, danger, and even torture with a high head and a smile. McMurtry shows us a time of rugged and brave men, and perhaps he wanted to say something about the virtues of courage and adventure. Though I’m not sure.4) Voice (4 stars) – McMurtry has the ability to spin off some of the finest come-by-this-fire-and-let-me-tell-you-a-magnificent-yarn prose. But, unfortunately in this book, many sections felt unedited. He would say the same thing three of four times in the same paragraph. I’m not sure if this was intentional, if he felt it gave simpler men a simpler aura to them, but as a reader I often found myself thinking “let’s gone on with this” and started skimming.5) Setting (5 stars) – McMurtry knows his nineteenth century Texas. It is an expansive, dangerous, difficult place, and he drops you right in the middle of it to fend for yourself.6) Overall (4 stars) – This is no Lonesome Dove. But 99% of books aren’t. Lonesome Dove is one of the greatest stories ever told, and it’s tough for anyone to be infused with so much genius twice. Comanche Moon, however, is a good book. I picked it up because I didn’t want Lonesome Dove to end, but I kept reading for the fascinating window into Comanche life. I’d recommend it.
Neyly
Nice ... a good set-up for Lonesome Dove. We meet a young Pea Eye, Deets, Jake Spoon ... a young Blue Duck, half-breed son of Comanche Chief Buffalo Hump. We have the backstory of the doomed romances of Gus and Clara, Call and Maggie. We meet Newt as a young boy. As you can tell, I've already read Lonesome Dove so am familiar with the characters. Would I still rate the book 4 stars without Lonesome Dove as the precursor? Yes. Really I wish that I had read the books in chronological order: Dead Man's Walk, Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo. I can't leave this review without mentioning that the particular copy I read has an embarrassing number of errors: words omitted, sentences repeated, often the wrong word substituted (ex. - little instead of litter). I can only hope that later editions corrected the errors. (I nearly typed "half the errors" but even that would leave too many.)*I'm having to take a deep breath and stop myself from picking up Lonesome Dove again ... right now.
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