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To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour
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This book continues the story of Barnabas Sackett and introduces his sons Kin, Yance, and Jubal Sackett who show up in later books in the series. People familiar with North Carolina will recognize Native American tribe names and landmarks.

The story is a good one. I thought the second sight incidents were interesting as foreshadowing. I will issue a tissue warning.

Who will like it? It is good historical fiction. If you like L'Amour's Westerns, you'll most likely enjoy this. If you like fiction about historical North Carolina, you'll probably like it. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | May 29, 2016 |
I'm mixed with this book. I want to give it 3 stars, because there are some serious glaring problems with Barnabas Sackett in the middle of the book. But then, I want to give it 4 stars, because L'amour seriously toys with your emotions at the end of the book, and I just wasn't ready for it. I'm still not.

As such, I'll give it 3.5.

Here were the problems- Barnabas Sackett is written to be a careful man. Full of reason, and logical thinking, strong brute force, good skill with a sword and a ship, and honest to a fault. So what is he doing abandoning his forts (he does this TWICE!) to trade with Europeans?

I mean, in the first fort, an enemy Indian tribe attacks the fort with the intent to kill everyone. Barnabas successfully holds them off, killing a few Indians. The Indians retreat. Then, later, Nick Bardle, an old rival, comes on the Jolly Jack, fully armed, ready to take Sackett and his fort. Again, Barnabas holds them off and defeats them with his ship "Abagail". Bardle retreats with a damaged ship.

So, after these two attacks, from two different enemies, and with winter approaching, and a pregnant wife, he opts for going over the Atlantic to trade. Nevermind the dangers, obviously of SAILING THE OCEAN, he comes back to find his fort destroyed and provisions gone.

And he's surprised? Ugh.

Then, THE VERY NEXT YEAR, he heads to the coast to trade with ships sailing by, and leaves two farmers- farmers mind you, not fighting men, to guard the fort. When he returns, one is head, and the other is wounded, but heals.

So, how am I supposed to take this man? One one hand, he carefully navigates politics that would see him hang for an offense he hasn't committed. He takes a ship through mutiny, another through force, and yet a 3rd through careful planning and a bit of luck. He is resourceful, where he can woodcraft, hunt, plant, care for a group of people, and lead with ultimate confidence. Then, on the other hand, he's careless in leaving forts unguarded, and loses everything, forcing to start over.

Grrrrr.

However, Louis does something unexpected- he sends Barnabas' wife, young daughter, and aspiring son off to London. He's left alone with his sons (a good 20 years after the 2nd fort burning down). Slowly, one-by-one, everyone he know, befriended, and lead from the fens to now, leaves him for various reasons. Ultimately, he's alone with Black Tom Watkins. The two of them decide to head west, out of Virginia, past the blue mountains.

Barnabas can't be older than 50, yet you get a feeling that he's very well near the end of his life. He feels old. He almost feels a widower, with his wife, daughter, and son gone, and his other sons scouting the western territories. He and Black Tom Watkins feel like two old guys out on a journey, checking off an item from their "bucket list".

During their trip, they are attacked by a large group of Indians, and killed. KILLED! And that's the end of the book.

Wait, what?! Seriously?!

Being a father of the most amazing daughter on the planet, first I cannot imagine sending my wife and daughter off to England, while I am living in colonial America during the mid-1600s. THEN, I cannot imagine heading west! How would I expect them to find me when they came back from England?

But it was the death of Barnabas that tugged on my emotions. His daughter will never see him again. As a father, I cannot possibly fathom the emotions that my daughter would feel if she were placed in that situation. Her laughs, her cries, her quirky personalities and behaviors. Her hugs and kisses, wrestling, and playing. All gone.

Knowing that there are still 15 books in the series, it's hard to believe that Louis L'amour killed of THE main character after only the 2nd book. Then again, he may not have been writing the Sackett series as a series, but just as stand-alone books. Regardless, it's still quite the risk to kill off your main character, and expect your readers to be okay with it.

As a whole, I think Louis could have done better with character development. Some characters, like Barnabas came through the page loud and clear. Other characters, such as Black Tom Watkins or Jeremy Ring, fell very flat. Some of the pacing was hit-and-miss also. At times, the chapters read very well, and you were hooked. Other chapters crawled, and I was constantly looking at the page number or clock, to see how long I've been reading.

So, not great, but better than good. Certainly, this is a genre I didn't expect to be enjoying like I am. ( )
  atoponce | Jan 29, 2016 |
An interesting story, and not the usual Louis L'amour tale - this one is filled with pirates, and the settling of the east by a small band led by Sackett before Jamestown. It had some pacing problems which is not normal for a Louis L'amour novel. The characters are more Davy Crockett than Clint Eastwood-esque, which was interesting. ( )
  VincentDarlage | Jan 30, 2015 |
The second Sackett adventure here gives some more of the grand adventure that we saw in Sackett's Land, but with somewhat less impact in my opinion. I thought Sackett's Land left off nicely setting us up for adventures in the New World, and that we didn't need so much another completely Barnabas story. His sons were introduced well here, and I am looking forward to reading more an them.

L'Amour seems to like having a large number of characters in Barnabas' periphery, but they all seem to be the same character and usually the only way to tell them apart is by name. I would have liked to see fewer, more distinct characters.

The story also seemed to get sidetracked by a mystical element related in a few scenes. This didn't seem to move the story along at all, and the drama we were supposed to feel in it felt forced. Maybe it will be more prominent in the later books, but even so I feel that it either should be integrated more naturally or shouldn't be included here at all.

Aside from those complaints, still a fun read. ( )
1 vote yesssman | Sep 2, 2012 |
Wow, what a long boring read! L'Amour at his longwindedness best, I suppose. We learn the fate of Barnabus Sackett and get a brief introduction to his sons. I'm looking forward to the next installment and can only hope that Louis preaches less and tells more. ( )
  clif_hiker | Sep 21, 2009 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Oscar and Marian Dystel
First words
My horse, good beast that he was, stood steady, ears pricked to listen, as were mine.
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For land beyond the mountains is ever a dream and a challenge, and each generation needs that, that dream of some far-off place to go.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Filled with exciting tales of the frontier, the chronicle of the Sackett family is perhaps the crowning achievement of one of our greatest storytellers. In To the Far Blue Mountains, Louis L'Amour weaves an unforgettable tale of a man who journeys to his homeland — but discovers that finding his way back to America may be impossible....Barnabas Sackett was leaving England forever to find his fortune in the New World. But as he settled his affairs, he learned that a warrant from Queen Elizabeth had been sworn against him — and that men were searching for him in every port. At issue were some rare gold coins Sackett had found and sold — coins believed to be part of a great treasure lost by King John years before. Believing that Sackett possesses the rest of the treasure, the Queen will stop at nothing to find him. And if he's caught, Sackett will face torture — and even the gallows....
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553276883, Mass Market Paperback)

TO THE FAR BLUE MOUNTAINS
 
In To the Far Blue Mountains, Louis L’Amour weaves the unforgettable tale of a man who, after returning to his homeland, discovers that finding his way back to America may be impossible.

Barnabas Sackett was leaving England to make his fortune in the New World. But as he settled his affairs, he learned that a royal warrant had been sworn out against him and that men were searching for him in every port. At issue were some rare gold coins Sackett had sold to finance his first trip to the Americas—coins believed to be part of a great treasure lost by King John years before.

Believing that Sackett possesses the rest of the treasure, Queen Bess will stop at nothing to find him. If he’s caught, not only will his dream of a life in America be lost, but he will be brutally tortured and put to death on the gallows.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:16 -0400)

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Barnabas Sackett carves a place for himself, his growing family, and a few close friends out of the harsh landscape.

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