One does not travel the path to vengeance alone
Twelve -year -old Thomas Walker has never left New York City. His father, a traveling salesman hoping to earn money by selling Samuel Colt's recent invention, the "Improved Revolving Gun," takes young Thomas with him on the road. But even the world's first true revolver cannot save them from danger, and what starts as an adventure soon turns into a nightmare.
Thomas soon finds himself alone, and must rely on his own wits, courage, and determination, as well as a wooden replica of the Colt revolver, to protect himself. Luckily, an encounter with a surly ex-ranger, Henry Stands, leads to an improbable partnership, and the two set out in perilous pursuit of vengeance. That is, if they can escape the thieves who lurk around each trail, river, and road--and who have already stolen so much from Thomas.
In the spirit of The Sisters Brothers and True Grit, this spare, elegant, and emotionally resonant story conveys, through a boy's eyes, a beautiful father-son story, as well as the fascinating history of how the birth of the revolver changed the course of violence in America. Road to Reckoning offers a window into the history of the American West and the heart of a boy yearning for love.
The author offers the history of the guns in this book in these blog entries:
The Gun. The Legend.
The Air Rifle.
"I was a big fan of Sisters Brothers, a neo-western novel that came out a few years back, but westerns or neo-westerns and the like seem few and far between these days. I am happy to report that there is another such novel on the horizon, that being Robert Lautner's Road to Reckoning, which debuts early 2014.
It is difficult, however, to classify this novel as a western when our narrator, Thomas Walker, admits that he and his father didn't even make it that far west before being set upon by a gang of thieving, murderous sidewinders. But it is 1837, and one didn't need to travel that far from the east coast cities to find rugged country with little or no law for protection.
Thomas is helping his father locate customers for a new Colt revolver that promises to revolutionize the use of the handgun. Sales are brisk until they come across some very bad men. Shots are fired and Thomas is left to fend for himself. He has no choice but to gather himself as best he can and head back home to New York.
As luck would have it there is one other man heading east, a past-his-prime former Ranger named Henry Stands who wants nothing to do with a twelve-year old boy nipping at his heals. But what can he do, the kid won't stop following him, his one and only talent.
At this point the story shares more similarities with the classic western novel (not to mention two fine film adaptations) True Grit. But whereas True Grit's Mattie Ross is as fierce and determined as they come, our Thomas Walker is home-schooled and timid and 'seemingly' no match for the harsh wilderness and the roughnecks who roam there. I've written seemingly because even the meek can muster strength when need be. True, Thomas was armed. But his gun -- unlike the ones aiming at him -- was just a toy. Watch out anyway, sidewinders.
As a bookseller, I will recommend Road to Reckoning not only to the numerous True Grit/Sisters Brothers fans, but also to anyone looking for an exciting, adventurous novel with a lot of heart and character depth. Sober or not, Henry Stands is someone you'd want to have your back when the bullets start flying. As for the kid, he's got about a week to become a man or die in the forest. I wouldn't count him out."