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‘The Huron’
The Quick and the Dead by Louis L’Amour

1973, Bantam, 184 pages

The Quick and the Dead is highly readable, light and not excessively violent, the author treating well with the fact that many men, even killers, especially hunters, are habitually reluctant to take life.

Con Vallian, is a knock about gunslinger with far more trail-sense and less violence of mind than the outlaws he avoids association with, namely a pack of rascals who set their dark hearts on despoiling a single family in a covered wagon of everything. The father, son and mother are stock western characters that alternately provide the objective of the adventure and its harried core perspective. The perspective seems to be split between Con and the family he helps in his smart ass way almost equally.

This novella is rescued from short story status and from its own heavy tropes by the introduction of two sympathetic villains, Purdy, a gunfighter, and the Huron, the guide for the outlaw party. The introduction of a white Indian character is not uncommon for L’Amour, who seemed to have a greet affinity for Indians and the frontiersmen of the period before which most of his tales are set. What could have been a typical trope laden contest for survival between a loner helping a family and a gang bent on their demise, becomes something more with the introduction among the villains of a character who is more of a loner than the hero and more deadly as well.

Son of a Lesser God



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