Famed frontier storyteller Louis L'Amour had a successful series of westerns starring various members of the Sackett family. While positioning most of these novels in the 1800s, L'Amour's later installments presented the family's early history. Beginning in 1974, L'Amour released “Sackett's Land”, chronologically the first Sackett story. Set between 1599-1620, the book introduces readers to Barnabas Sackett and his early exploration into America. Continuing Barnabas' story, “To the Far Blue Mountains” was released in 1976 and slowly transforms the series emphasis from Barnabas to his sons. In 1980, “The Warrior's Path” was released with the primary focus on Barnabas' sons Kin-Ring and Yance circa 1630.
The opening chapters find Kin-Ring and Yance in northeastern America. The two have been summoned by a small village to track the whereabouts of two young women. Fearing the girls were kidnapped by Indians, Kin-Ring pairs up with longtime allies, the Catawba tribe, to search for the missing girls. Surprisingly, Kin-Ring discovers that Indians weren't behind the girls' disappearance.
After a skirmish with Joseph Pittingel, the Sacketts learn that he is behind a robust slave-trading enterprise that focuses on kidnapping young white women and then selling them in the Caribbean islands. This portion of the narrative provides an opportunity for L'Amour to revisit the swashbuckling adventure aspect that made the prior books so much fun. After traveling to Jamaica, Kin-Ring embarks on a quest to not only retrieve the girls but to find the buyers. While using swords, knives and black powder, Kin-Ring bravely attempts to stop the slave-trading business at its source.
It is unfair to compare this novel to “Sackett's Land” or “To the Far Blue Mountains”. Lightning struck twice for L'Amour as both of those are some of the best literary works you'll find – of any genre. But, that winning formula doesn't quite carry over to “The Warrior's Path”. Kin-Ring is written with the same basic attributes as Barnabas...but something is just missing. I didn't quite grasp a firm connection with the character. Despite the book's sprawling locations, it didn't have the epic feel that the prior books conveyed so well. Nevertheless, this is an entertaining adventure novel and would probably be held in higher regard if not for the prior novels. I'm looking forward to reading the fourth and final novel of the Sacketts' early history, “Jubal Sackett”, in hopes that the author finally places the frontier action west of the Mississippi River. As a fan of wilderness survival tales, I'm hoping that book excels and makes up for my lukewarm reception to “The Warrior's Path”.
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