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The Lonesome Gods

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,155 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
The Lonesome Gods is Louis L'Amour's biggest and most important historical novel to date, a sweeping adventure of the California frontier. Here is the fascinating story of Johannes Verne, a young man left to die by his vengeful grandfather, rescued by outlaws and raised in part by the Indians of the desert. Strengthened by the love of two women -- Miss Nesselrode, whose my ...more
Paperback, 450 pages
Published December 31st 1983 by Bantam Books (first published 1983)
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Eddie I enjoyed it. Other than the love interest being a little forced, which is really a small part of story, all other characters were well rounded.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lucinda
Jan 30, 2008 Lucinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was not just a cowboy, shoot ‘em up story, but if it weren’t an assignment, I don’t know if I would have read it. My sister said it was a book for old men! If you have children that you want to grow up with a strong moral character and the best education they can possibly get, this book is a must read. It is a model for an excellent education. Louis L’Amour makes it clear that history taught in public schools is not accurate, pointing out that Christopher Columbus only “discovered” a l ...more
Sara
Mar 29, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-school-year
This was my first Louis L'Amour and I was blown away. I had an unfair prejudice against L'Amour based on tidbits of conversations I had overheard as a child that proved to be totally irrelevant to the writing of the this brilliant author. I wish that I had not leapt to conclusions and in so doing been led astray for so long. I am grateful that this book was recommended reading in my scholarship group because it has given me a whole new world and author to fall in love with.

This book is nothing
...more
Alexis
Nov 16, 2008 Alexis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I read this book as it was part of the follow-on "assignments" included as part of the epilogue in "A Thomas Jefferson Education." I never would have selected it on my own. It was exceptional, and the ties to "A Thomas Jefferson..." were apparent. An entertaining read, full of wonderful "gems" of wisdom.

The protagonist is well developed, perhaps over developed. The evil that pursues him is absolutely abomiable but also quite reflective of contemporary selfishness and materialism. I would have lo
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Dec 08, 2010 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: Mom
Take a jaunt through mid-19th-century Southern California with Louis L'Amour. He earned all five stars from this California girl for historical and geographical research and accuracy. The story follows orphan Johannes Verne from age seven through early manhood. He grows up with the territory, and always has to watch his backside because his wealthy Californio grandfather wants him dead. But he is Johannes Verne, and he is not afraid.

There are some minor plot flaws, and the ending felt a little
...more
Natalie
Mar 02, 2010 Natalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love a good fight-for-life western
I read The Lonesome Gods because it was recommended in A Thomas Jefferson Education as one of five books to start one’s classic library. The reviews claimed it was Louis L’Amour’s biggest and most important historical novel. That may be true, but it didn’t measure up to the level of classic literature.

The coming-to-manhood of Johannes Verne is reflected in the story’s setting: the mid 1840s, as Los Angeles grows from a sleepy Mexican town to a major West Coast trading center. Young Verne crosse
...more
Jim
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, western, 1paper
This is a long book for L'Amour. He spends some time getting philosophical - a boy on his own living in the desert, communing with nature, learning & such. There's a good look at early Los Angeles - well, it sounded good to me. I can't vouch for actual historical accuracy, though. It was interesting, not just a shoot 'em up.
Joan
Nov 17, 2011 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up in an airport on the way to a Florida weekend and polished it off by the end. It's my fantasy world, the 1850s American West. And no one describes it better than...Zane Grey....and Louis L'Amour. Adventure, risk, nature, the unknown, courage, good and evil, heroism, it's all there. Listen to this:
"Long since, I had learned that one needs moments of quiet, moments of stillness, for both the inner and outer man, a moment of contemplation or even simple emptiness when the stress coul
...more
Kristy
This is close enough to five stars for me to rate it that way. I think I liked Bendigo Shafter more, but the "epic journey through the desert" bit was compelling. I love how L'Amour seamlessly combines disparate elements into his books: the ones I've read don't seem like "just" westerns. He does his research, too, as far as I can tell. This one includes bits about the Tarahumara runners and gigantism, among other things.
Margaret
Aug 28, 2013 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Louis L'Amour and I loved it! Especially fun for me was that it was set in L.A. and Palm Springs. I will definitely be reading more of Mr. L'Amour's books in the future. Thanks to my friend, Casey Nicollelo, for strongly recommending that I check out Louis L'Amour!
Beth A.
Mar 11, 2010 Beth A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Beth A. by: 1st Ward Book Club March
Shelves: western, orphans
I have never been a big western fan, so I kind of had low expectations when I started this book. I tried a few Louis L’amour books in high school and was unimpressed. (Suddenly, that seems like a long time ago.) Although I did love Firefly. Do space westerns count?

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book. It started with an interesting premise, and jumped right in to a few well rounded and dynamic characters. The story was interesting, with lots of setbacks, and challenges for the
...more
Sarah Udall
This was I think the only book I read in Junior High. I remember really liking it. So I thought it might be good. Oh it was just long, and in parts I was rolling my eyes! The main plot is great, and the story line in great, and how it all ties together was interesting. But there was just so much added information it was annoying. I feel that every odd fact, interesting historical people (like poe or one other poet person along with others) are just thrown in. " Oh my dad knew him, I listen at hi ...more
Erin
Feb 27, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my first foray into "The cowboy/adventure" novel. My husband had read something else by him and said it was just "pulp", but I had been recommended this book on lists of "classics". This book has a story which is really intriguing, but it feels as though the author had a specific person in mind when he began this book, someone he was trying to encourage to get an education or at least figure out what they were going to do with their life. Maybe it was intended for a son, nephew or high ...more
Deanna
Nov 17, 2008 Deanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My children
Recommended to Deanna by: My TJed Friends
Ahhh! I love Louis L'Amour books. I'm glad I had to reread this one again for a book club. It is one of my favorites.

There are many reasons that I enjoy his books. In this book I was drawn into the main characters and I feel their feelings. I feel that they are developed. I understand them...

I also love that the main character is always very well read. In every L'Amour books there's a list of at least 10 great classics (ancienct classics) that the hero has read. The value of personal education i
...more
Andrea
May 24, 2012 Andrea rated it it was amazing
The exciting tale of survival in the California/Arizona desert around the time of the Gold Rush. The main character is a rancher. There is also a bit of romance. The lonesome gods are the native american gods who are no longer respected. You won't be able to put this book down.

Quotes from the book:
"Yes, son, we could [fight], but fightin's something you do when you've tried everything else."

He who ceases to learn is already a half-dead man.

Do not be like an oyster who rests on the sea bottom a
...more
Julene
Mar 03, 2008 Julene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that I have read quite a few Louis L'amour books. I'm not sure why that requires a confession in my mind, but it does. Anyway, I have read some more serious ones (of which this book is one) and some of the more fun ones (like his short story collections) and I've gotta' say I prefer the fun ones. If I want deep thoughts I don't want them from Mr. L'amour. To me this particular book read like a rough draft. It was quite repetitious and I kept waiting for it to start. It finally di ...more
Shaylee
Jul 31, 2013 Shaylee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bleh. I couldn't really stand this book the second time around. The fighting and shooting seemed to be pointless, and too common. The story developed at an odd pace, and I never found the full closure that I was expecting. Miss Nesselrode seems to have more of a back story that should have been explained, but it wasn't. And you never really find out what happened regarding Johannes' relationship with his grandfather. There is no defining how many years have gone by once Johannes has reached age ...more
Jeff Stiles
Mar 20, 2013 Jeff Stiles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great story and well told. I have not read any of L'amour's other books, but I had heard that The Lonesome Gods was one of his best.
The Lonesome Gods is a book about being a man and becoming a man. Principles such as the importance of education and loyalty to friends are woven into the story. There is a lot of history about California, information about the desert, native American lore in this book. Even with all of that, it kept my attention and I came to enjoy the characters. I highl
...more
Mary
Feb 22, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! The ending was a bit weak though maybe because I didn't want it to end and it wrapped up a bit sparsely. Will read more Louis L'Amour. He's a great storyteller!
Claire
May 21, 2013 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quintessential "guy-lit" (or whatever is the opposite of "chick-lit"). I enjoyed the storytelling aspect and the way the author brings the desert to life in his writing. It's a rather romanticized paean to the Old West.

Spoiler Alert:
I positively loathed the character, Meghan, the love interest. She was completely one-dimensional and had no redeeming qualities that would lead one to believe that the hero would find her anything but annoying and obtuse. So the message apparently is that to land a
...more
Kerry
Jan 07, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Louis L'Amour classic! I enjoyed the interesting characters, the history of the LA area and its inhabitants and the wonderful descriptions of the desert and the mountains!!
Mark Robertson
I enjoyed this tale of good versus evil set in the California desert and in the fast-growing city of Los Angeles in the 1840s. The cast of characters is truly multinational, with Native Americans, Anglo-Americans, Mexicans, Russians and even a guy from Turkmenistan, if I remember correctly. L'Amour's celebrates the spirit of the self-reliant settlers on the frontier but also that of the sailors who travelled the seven seas in search of trade and adventure. Most of all, though, he celebrates the ...more
Trish Jackson
May 15, 2014 Trish Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some people probably think Louis L'Amour was an okay writer if you like cowboy stories. Actually, he was an amazing and wonderful writer, and he was also extremely well-educated and knowledgeable about world history. He wasn't awarded the US National Gold Medal and the Medal of Freedom for nothing. More than 300 million of his books have been printed, and they have been translated into several other languages and sold all over the world.

This story starts with six-year-old Johannes Verne's narrat
...more
Sherrill Watson
Feb 15, 2014 Sherrill Watson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1983, 545 pps.
The small, six-year-old Joannes (Hannes) Verne and his father travel to "California" in the 1800s(?). Joannes mother has died, his father has "consumption" and they are going to place J. with his grandfather, Don Isidro. Along the way Joannes meets several people, Miss Nesselrode (something of a mystery), Peter Burkin, Jacob Finney, Peg-Leg Smith, and Francisco, who become his lifelong friends, as well as Don Isidro and Doug Fletcher who are his enemies. Then there is Ta
...more
Joe
Mar 05, 2010 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is probably one of the best examples of what a novel, or any American literature, should be. The plot is continuously developed throughout the novel, the characters are not only well developed and easy to relate to, but there is also an excellent mix of good and bad, that exhibit all of the traits that you should want to embody or avoid. Aside from the well researched historical aspects of the novel, there are also many important lessons and advice throughout the dialogue.
Lekeshua
Apr 19, 2016 Lekeshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-tbr, read-2016
This was my first Western and I loved it. I am going to read others by L'Amour. I am not ready to leave the desert, Johannes and Ms. Nessrode. This book is bulging with wisdom and I can't stop the craving. I felt so deeply with this book and was very surprised by that. A true classic. Can't wait to share with my children and future generations!

"I am Johannes Verne and I am not afraid."
Jessica
May 16, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book that is always moving. My only complaint is that it ended rather abruptly. Other than that it's a solid read. Great story.
Julie
May 20, 2014 Julie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I rarely give one star, unless I can’t even finish a book. I finished this, but only because it was a book club pick and I bought the book, so I was determined to push through. This just had nothing for me. As it started I was so frustrated because the dialogue was almost unnaturally deep-thinking and poetic and the prose was completely flat and lifeless. All of the characters and relationships were completely underdeveloped. I had no connection to any of it. About midway through when they were ...more
Cactuskid
My first Louis L'amour book. I think this is an author you need to be familiar with as to how he writes. My first impression was it was terribly drug out with lots of repeats. There wasn't near the "action" I thought there would be and when there was, it was over quick. After all the long dialog throughout, the ending was over really quick, in fact I was beginning to wonder if this was one of those that was to be continued in the next book. But there is a lot of history there (this one centered ...more
Trace
Oct 01, 2012 Trace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE Louis L'Amour. I really identified with the hero in this book.... not that I'm as brave as he is... but rather that he also has a lot of obstacles to overcome.

Wonderful example of self education and learning to be a self-reliant, independent and fulfilled person all on your own.

Excellent book.
Jeff
Mar 17, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Son put me onto Louis L'Amour.read 2 before this. This is the best by far.not just for L'Amour,but great storytelling in general.Now I 'get' L'Amour.Wonderful background research,( Think Mitchener and Wilbur Smith. Though not in their class,I loved this book.Recommended.
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Louis L'Amour was an American author. L'Amour's books, primarily Western fiction, remain enormously popular, and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death all 101 of his works were in print (86 novels, 14 short-story collections and one full-length work of nonfiction) and he was considered "one of the world's most popular writers".
-Wikipedia
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“When a man is one of a kind, he will be lonely wherever he is.” 67 likes
“. . . What do you wish to be? What would you like to become?”

I did not know, and I told her so, but the question worried me. Should I know?

“There is time,” she said, “but the sooner you know, the sooner you can plan. To have a goal is the important thing, and to work toward it. Then, if you decide you wish to do something different, you will at least have been moving, you will have been going somewhere, you will have been learning.”
34 likes
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