It was the cover blurb on the cover of Robert Lautner's book, Road to Reckoning, that compelled me to pick it up....."Those who love True Grit will love this."
1837 New York City. Thomas Walker and his father (formerly a spectacle salesman) strike out on the road West to sell a new product - guns. Specifically, Samuel Colt's new improved 'revolving gun'. They have samples to show and Thomas has a wooden replica as well. Walker Sr. is a gentle man, not one overly familiar with guns or violence. It is inevitable that others would want and simply take the guns. But what is also taken Walker Sr.'s life. Leaving young Thomas alone to fend for himself....until he hooks up with Henry Stands - a man more than familiar with the use of guns.
It is Thomas in his older years who narrates the tale of his youth.
"I, to this day, hold to only one truth: if a man chooses to carry a gun he
will get shot. My father agreed to carry twelve."
Young Thomas is old beyond his years, yet still a child. Lautner wonderfully describes the relationship between Thomas and his father, making it all the more heartbreaking when it is cut short. The relationship between Stands and Thomas is just as moving. Stands as a character leapt off the page for me. The prose are spare, but Thomas's observations and thoughts are compelling. The Road to Reckoning is filled with adventure and action as well. And Lautner's descriptions of time and place set the tone perfectly. The history of firearms and Colt's fledgling revolver was also very interesting.
Lautner has written a Western coming of age tale set on the rough roads and towns of a young America. And yes, it is very similar in tone to True Grit. But definitely worth a read. (And it would make a great movie) Read an excerpt of Road to Reckoning.
(I was surprised to see that Lautner is not an American author - rather he lives in Wales.)