Valley of the Sun, by Louis L’amour, collected and published posthumously in 1995.
I encountered this book the way I encounter many; simply perusing various genres on the shelves of our local library. It had been a while since I read a Western, and since I ain’t never met a gun slinging tough guy character that I didn’t like, I figured I’d mosey on home with this collection of short stories by the acclaimed Western writer.
The stories did not disappoint. However, they don’t rank as high on my L’amour scale as earlier works published when he was alive, such as for example, The Daybreakers. Of course, these are short stories, so perhaps my comparison is less apt given the levels of character development novels offer when compared to short stories.
With that disclaimer on record, I highly recommend Valley of the Sun for readers not deeply familiar with the Western genre. It offers the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet while enjoying the work of a writer who is arguably the best Western writer…ever.
The stories have all the elements of great Western tales. The strong honorable men, willing to draw to the death for the protection of what is right and just in the face of men of low honor and even less sense of justice. Women with intestinal fortitude, yet who understand the value of their soft power.
Cattle rustlers, law men, spectacular descriptions of the wild, Western frontier, and character tinged with humor and insight. Consider character Ryan Tyler’s analysis of cattle baron Jim Lucas upon their first meeting in the introductory story, We Shaped the Land with Our Guns:
Lucas was a medium built man who carried himself like he weighed a ton. He sat square and solid in the saddle, and you could see at a glance that he figured he was some shakes.
Those 35 words are worth an album filled with photographs, as an instant picture of Jim Lucas develops in your mind’s eye.
The vivid imagery makes the old west come alive in story after story and whether you’re a long time fan or reading Westerns for the first time, Louis Lamour’s Valley of the Sun is sure to satisfy.
Violence: It’s the wild west. Lots of gun slinging.