the Sackett books have pretty much been a sausage fest (for all that each one of them is about the winning of a wife as awesome as each novel's hero deserves), partly because I wasn't sure how well Louis L'Amour could really do a female voice, mostly because it seemed from the opening paragraphs, that his version of said female voice was in backwoods dialect, and I'm still getting over the wounds dealt to me on that score by one Mr. Stephen King (see the footnote to my reaction to fan unfavorite Wizard and Glass). So, though I've been loving the Sackett novels as nice, somewhat wistful entertainment, I was not eager to plunge into Ride the River as I had been into its predecessors.
I'm glad I finally got over my aversion, though. Fans of The Hunger Games and whatnot take note: Echo Sackett is the spiritual ancestor of Katniss Everdeen and lots of other plucky young tomboyish heroines (Kaylee from Firefly and Amy Shaftoe from Cryptonomicon come to mind as well).. As in Echo was huntin' and killin' and feedin' her family long, long before la Everdeen volunteered as a replacement tribute in some young adult fiction. Except Echo uses guns. And an "Arkansas toothpick." And, yes, the power of her last name.
Ride the River takes place some two hundred years after the last Sackett story. Echo is a descendent of Kin-Ring, one of the the heroes of The Warrior's Path, and so also presumably of his stupendously badass wife Diana. Moreover, she is the youngest of those descendents, which means she's about to come into a special legacy. For back in the days of Barnabas Sackett, Barnabas had a great friend. And said great friend did well for himself. And felt that he owed so much to Barnabas that he instructed his heirs to make sure that if his line ever died out, all the money and a special puzzle box with a secret inside would go to the youngest descendent of Barnabas' first-born son, Kin-Ring.
Only problem is, Echo lives in Tennessee, and the lawyer working the inheritance case is in Philadelphia. So to the big bad city goes our little paragon, only to learn that the lawyer is more than a little crooked, and he's not the only bad guy after her windfall.
Enter the Chantry family, heroes of another Louis L'Amour series (of which I've only read one book, Fair Blows the Wind, and that reading was back in my early teens). These writers just can't resist the urge to link all their series and characters together, eh? And here it seems a tad gratuitous, but what the hell. Finian Chantry, octagenarian lawyer who can still kick ass, proves himself a more than worthy descendant of Tatton, and so, eventually, does his strapping (and yes, handsome) nephew Dorian, whom he sends after Echo to keep her safe on her journey home with a carpetbag full of gold.
But this is Echo, and she is a Sackett, so who do you think winds up rescuing/taking care of/worrying about whom? Even as she "sparks" on him.
But so basically this novel is fluff, but it's enjoyable fluff. I'm relieved to discover that later Sackett novels will take up with earlier generations again as a Sackett in the years after the War of 1812 is a bit boring even if she is dinky and cute and never misses with a rifle or a pistol and isn't above clocking you with the butt if you get into close range. I wouldn't mess with her, sho nuff.