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The Last Ride by Thomas Eidson
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The Last Ride (1995)

by Thomas Eidson

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This was a touching story full of so much heartbreak.

In a nutshell: Samuel Jones, who had abandoned his white family 30 years before to live with an Apache woman, returns to his daughter, Maggie Baldwin, in order to make peace with her before he dies (of tuberculosis, I believe). She is not receptive. Maggie's husband is shot and one of her daughters is taken captive by renegade Apaches who have left the reservation. Even though Maggie wants nothing to do with Jones "or his heathen ways", she has no choice but to rely on him to help rescue the girl. This story is about the journey taken together and about the meaning of family, love and loyalty. There is also a thought-provoking spiritual component as well.

I wasn't totally fond of Maggie for several different reasons that didn't sit right with me. I understood where her anger and lack of forgiveness toward Jones came from, but her rudeness, lack of charity, and unceasing intolerance to his personal beliefs grated on me. I wanted him to tell her to, "Grow up!". I found her to be too selfish and coldhearted. She didn't seem to be overly affected by tragedies other people suffered in the quest to rescue her daughter. I also couldn't understand how she, as a mother, could keep sending her 10-year-old daughter off on her own out in the middle of the scorching desert and Apache country to boot. That just didn't make sense to me, especially considering that throughout all of their time traveling together they were trying to avoid being spotted by the Apaches and Mexican banditos who were causing so much trouble in the area.

I know the author was trying to honor how strong the pioneering women were, but I didn't get that from Maggie. I got it much more from her 10-year-old daughter. I would love to read a sequel about her life down the road and how she moves forward with the knowledge she's gained from Jones.

I found it interesting how Jones melded different facets of the various tribes he befriended over the years, which was evident in the combination of religious and ceremonial practices (prayers, chanting, smoke, burning sage, body paint, communication with animals, etc.) and the different pieces of clothing he wore i.e. some Apache, some Lakota Sioux, some Cheyenne, etc.. I am truly curious how different tribal nations would have looked at a "White Eyes" who did this. Would they be offended?

I really enjoyed this book. Other than my dislike for Maggie (which was the only thing about this book I didn't like because it distracted me), I enjoyed all the other characters, even the strange and evil Lame One. Well, I didn't LIKE him, but I enjoyed getting a peek into his head. That sure had the creepiness of a horror movie(!) but how the rest of the story was told really gave me the feel of a true old western. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | Jan 16, 2013 |
Good suspenseful Western with among-the-Indian living grandfather seeking to rescue captured granddaughter. Movie is not bad, but book is more satisfying to me. ( )
  kcslade | Sep 17, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812972384, Paperback)

The year is 1886 and old Samuel Jones, broken in body and soul, has ridden hard to reach his daughter’s remote New Mexico ranch—ridden hard so that he can die there. But Maggie Baldwin, grown and with children of her own, wants nothing to do with this man who abandoned her and her mother thirty years earlier to live with the Indians. Nothing, that is, until renegade Apaches shoot Maggie’s husband and kidnap her oldest daughter. Then she has no choice but to ride with the dying father she detests in a desperate attempt to rescue her child before the girl disappears forever into the vast twilight land of old Mexico.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:28 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A novel of the American West, it narrates the story of a dying man's attempts to make peace with his daughter, their struggle to rescue his granddaughter from renegades and slave traders, and his lifelong search for inner peace.

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