I'll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about the Mexican-American war. So I was a little lost while I first began to read THE SAVAGE BREED by Randy Denmon (Pinnacle, 2009). But it didn't matter, because I soon was swept away into the story.
Travis Ross and Chase McAlister were Indian hunters, scouts and Texas Rangers ten years before, fighting the Texas war for Independence. When asked to up and leave their sedentary lives as ranchers, it doesn't take them long to pack their saddle bags. From that point on, The Savage Breed takes you on a story of unrelenting war. Along the way they encounter old enemies, including a murderous half-Comanche, half-Apache Chief Little Face who tortured and killed Chase's parents 15 years before. Along the way they make new enemies, too, especially a fellow Ranger with a vendetta. Travis also finds his old love, Mercedes, that he lost years before, but once again he finds himself separated from her.
It seems sometimes that these two Rangers, especially Travis, are riding and fighting almost mechanically, as if they were in a dream-like dimension as they jump from one encounter to another, from one old enemy to the next. It bothered me sometimes that their battles, especially with old enemies, were treated in an almost matter of fact manner with little exploration into the character's emotions or state of mind while it was happening. But perhaps Denmon meant it that way. After all, war can be a event in which executions happen so often that it wouldn't be surprising that the ones that survive end up feeling numb and almost like zombies. With that in mind, THE SAVAGE BREED does an excellent job of portraying this war's enormous toll, both for those who survived and those who didn't.
All in all, I was glad I read THE SAVAGE BREED. I learned quite a bit about this long-ignored war that has had such long term repercussions for both sides. Now I want to read more.
Denmon's first novel, THE LAWLESS FRONTIER, was a finalist for Western Writers of America Spur Award, The Ben Franklin Award, and the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
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