HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Sackett Brand
Author: Louis L’Amour
Publisher: Bantam Book, reprinted 1985
Related website: http://www.louislamour.com/ (author)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 16 and up
Rating: *** Three stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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L’Amour, Louis. The Sackett Brand (published in 1965, with 21st printing in 1981, by Bantam Books Inc., 666 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY 10103). William Tell Sackett and his bride, Ange, come to Arizona to build a home and start a family. But on Black Mesa something goes terribly wrong. Tell is ambushed and badly injured, falling into the canyon below. Desperate, cold, hungry, and with no way to defend himself, he is stalked like a wounded animal. When he finally manages to drag himself back to where he left Ange, she is gone. He learns that forty gunslingers from the Lazy A outfit are fixing to hang him if they can capture him alive or fill him extra full of lead if they can’t. Eventually they get Tell cornered under the Mogollon Rim. Several of his brothers, cousins, and other Sackett relatives, including Orlando, Nolan, Orrin, Tyrel, Falcon, Flagan, Galloway, and Parmalee hear of his situation and are on their way to help him. But will they make it in time? Why are the Lazy A men after Tell anyway? Who is behind it all? And what has happened to Ange?
Louis Dearborn L’Amour (1908-1988) was one of my mother’s favorite authors. I’m not much of a Western fan, but when some L’Amour paperbacks were out on the free table at our local library, I decided to sample them. The Sackett Brand is variously listed as Book 7, Book 10, Book 12, and Book 16 of “The Sacketts” Series. I guess that it all depends on whose list you see, which books are on it, what order they’re placed in, and when it was made. To provide a little background for those who may not be familiar with the series, Sackett’s Land, published in 1974, is the first novel chronologically of the Sackett novels, taking place around A. D. 1600 in England, in which Barnabas Sackett, son of mercenary and freeholder Ivo Sackett, emigrates to the Atlantic Seaboard of North America, particularly in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras. In subsequent stories, his descendents spread throughout the country. The three main and best known characters are the three brothers, sons of Colburn Sackett, Tell, Orrin, and Tyrel. Sackett, the third of the Sackett novels and published in 1961 (Daybreakers was the first, published in 1960, though it is not the first chronologically), introduces the story of William Tell Sackett, a Union Army veteran who makes his way West in the years following the War, hoping to settle down at the right place as a rancher.
All the Sackett novels are told from the first-person perspective with some stories having a paragraph or two told through a third-person perspective. Eighteen novels were completed during Mr. L’Amour’s lifetime. Several references to drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco occur, along with quite a bit of cursing and swearing (the “h” and “d” words appear frequently), but there is neither vulgarity nor, amazingly enough, any profanity (taking the Lord’s name in vain). L’Amour has a good reputation for being generally clean with no sexual immorality. However, this book is no pleasant picnic in the park. It’s a hard, rough, old-timey Western that is full of shooting and killing, although I would not consider the descriptions of violence to be gory or gratuitous. Although outwardly Tell appears as a tough guy, he has a sound, strong moral character and never forgets his father’s rule of “…always ride on the side of the law, never against it.” Older teens and adults who like Westerns will likely enjoy it.