Book info

Comstock Lode (1982)

Comstock Lode (1982)
Author
Rating
3.98 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0553275615 (ISBN13: 9780553275612)
languge
English
publisher
bantam
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Comstock Lode (1982)
Comstock Lode (1982)

About book: I picked up “Comstock Lode” at an airport bookstore for a flight home from, appropriately, Nevada. Coming in at about 600 pages, the book is two to three times the size of a typical L’Amour western, which is how I knew I had never read it before. Back in my college years, I plowed through a stack of dozens of L’Amour westerns that I borrowed from a friend who had purchased them from a second-hand bookstore. That was nearly thirty years ago and I don’t remember which of his westerns I already read. None of those books were more than 250 pages, so I selected it for the flight to Texas. I sorry to say that I was a bit disappointed.I am a Louis L’Amour fan. Although it has been some time since I have read one of his westerns, in recent years I have read Off the Mangrove Coast: Stories, a collection of short stories, Education of a Wandering Man, his excellent memoir, and, for the umpteenth time, The Walking Drum, his trans-European twelfth century epic. I unapologetically love each of these books. Unfortunately, “Comstock Lode” does not measure up.From a plot standpoint, L’Amour expected us to believe that about a dozen characters who were involved in a series of events 10+ years ago on the trail from Missouri to California, all converge in Washoe Valley, Nevada, after having dispersed as far away as Paris, France, due to the Comstock Lode silver boom. Why? Because that’s what ruffians do, and they comprised most of this cast. Our hero is there because he is the world’s greatest miner, in addition to being the fastest gunslinger in them thar parts, and the hero’s love interest is there because… well, that’s kinda hard to figure. I know, I know, it’s just a melodramatic western, but I hate cheap coincidences. Louis L’Amour is capable of being a much better writer than this.This book is also mind-numbingly repetitive. How many times does L’Amour need to tell us that the hero is tall, broad-shouldered, ruggedly handsome, and legendary mining prodigy (at 22 years old, no less)? I get that L’Amour’s protagonists are all essentially the same guy with different names in every book, and that’s not my complaint, but the descriptions of young Val Trevallion are relentless. It reads as though L’Amour, who was in his seventies when he wrote this book, couldn’t remember from one day to the next what he had already written. Where was his editor? Louis L’Amour is capable of being a much better writer than this.In conclusion, Louis L’Amour is capable of being a much better writer than this.

When it comes to reading a good yarn, one of those stories that just strings the reader along and keep you turning the pages well into the night, you can’t get much better than a Louis L’Amour novel–the man definitely had a knack for writing stories, the type that can equally be told verbally, as well as in written form. And Comstock Lode is no different: it is a great story, chock-full of historical tidbits, intrigue and suspense, and it is a lot of fun to read. Comstock Lode is about a man named Travallion who originally came over to America from England as a young boy; his parents were murdered by a gang of thugs and so he has to survive the wilderness of America on his own. Of course there is more to it as well, but giving any more detail would be to spoil it for those of whom who have yet to read it. Another thing you can tell when you read Comstock Lode, a novel written and published near the end of his career, is that L’Amour started to really branch out and write differently, seriously. This is not just a pot-boiler of a novel with a lot of action. There is also a lot of historical detail, and a lot of introspection on the characters’ part; for example, although the main character, Travallion, is good with his guns and originally set out to get everyone responsible for the murder of his parents, he ends up changing the way he thinks and really struggles with a lot of his thoughts and decisions–stuff along the lines of “killing is bad,” etc. A sure indication that this is also a different L’Amour novel is illustrated by its length: it is almost 600 pages long, much longer than most of L’Amour’s other novels. I think this too is indicative of a more thoughtful and introspective novel, one where there is a lot of depth and breadth thrown in with the fun and excitement. Now that I have read Comstock Lode, I want to go out and find the other novels that L’Amour wrote late in his career, to see what they are like and to see if he further developed and changed as a writer late in his career.
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Reviews
Jesse Broussard
On the positive side, this is one of the more complex plot lines that L'Amour wrote. On the negative side, there's a reason for that, and it's a good one: he doesn't do it all that well. The timeline is basically linear, but the "flashback" scenes aren't marked clearly enough. There is one decently created sociopath, and then too many secondary characters, many of whom are introduced by name and nothing else to allow them to support the role they're given in the story.But I enjoyed it more than most of L'Amour, because of what the plot was in spite of how it was done.
Nik Morton
Louis L’Amour’s 1981 tome, subtitled ‘A Novel’ is a saga of over 500 pages, depicting the beginnings of the famous Comstock mining period. In 1849, young Val Trevallion travels from Cornwall with his family to seek their fortune. Yet tragedy strikes and Val is soon orphaned. Val sets out on a quest for vengeance but in time tires of the killing and wants to settle down – ‘a man doesn’t sleep well on the bodies of the dead’. He’s a good man, a typical L’Amour hero: ‘A man’s success he can share with others, his troubles are his own.’ The Comstock Lode was one of the richest finds in silver and L’Amour’s story is rich in characters and events, filled with drifters, schemers, dreamers, builders and thieves. Into the mix comes Grita Redaway, a beautiful actress; her past is linked with Val’s and, unknowingly, she’s in great danger from an unscrupulous mine owner, Val’s nemesis. A well-researched novel set in the Old West. Recommended.
Louis Shalako
When starting this book, I had the impression that it had been ghost-written. There appear to be missing scene breaks in the story. The usual highly-charged emotional content of the Louis L'Amour book was either lacking or perhaps I am a different reader now.There is a great deal of repetition, especially in the internal monologue of the Trevallion character. L'Amour's biggest book, published in 1981, this one was *okay* and most readers, especially those not entirely familiar with his work would most likely enjoy it.
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