Mark Stevens's Reviews > Hondo
by Louis L'Amour
by Louis L'Amour
Mark Stevens's review
Jan 29, 11
Read from January 19 to 25, 2011
There are stiff and clunky spots throughout Louis L’Amours best work, yet the tug to keep reading is right there. The prose style is a bit outdated in spots, pure poetry in others. His stories are palate-cleansers. The pretenses are low, although in “Hondo” we get more than a few stern lectures about the appropriate way to die in the face of the enemy. “Hondo” is a classic for a good reason—all the classic elements of conflict. Man against nature, man against himself, man against an enemy and man against the Apaches, who are both fearless killers and, at times, reasonable negotiators. “Hondo” jumps out of the shoot with a classic bit of survival in the Old West. “Hondo Lane could smell trouble, and he knew it was coming, for others and for himself.” There are circling buzzards, curious lone coyotes, a Winchester in the scabbard, “the gray bones of a long dead tree.” Within pages of the start, Hondo has taken on two Indians and, of course, won the day. The main action of involves Hondo’s interaction with Angie Lowe, a rancher stuck out in the desert with her son Johnny. Of course Angie needs a man, son Johnny needs a father figure. Angie’s husband is gone—although the given reasons, at least to Hondo, don’t quite fit with what he sees around the ranch. Soon, of course, there are Apaches and Hondo is in the middle of a series of colorful and dangerous situations as the pressure mounts. Hondo is on the run, concerned about “those hard and tireless desert fighters.” The desert backdrop is key. It’s a land “where all life is born with a fire, a thorn, a sting.” Good stuff.
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