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The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge Paperback – October 6, 2015
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From Publishers Weekly
Based on a true incident of heroism in the history of the American West, this debut by a Washington, D.C., international trade attorney and former bureaucrat in the Clinton administration is an almost painfully gripping drama. A Philadelphia-born adventurer, frontiersman Hugh Glass goes to sea at age 16 and enjoys a charmed life, including several years under the flag of the pirate Jean Lafitte and almost a year as a prisoner of the Loup Pawnee Indians on the plains between the Platte and the Arkansas rivers. In 1822, at age 36, Glass escapes, finds his way to St. Louis and enters the employ of Capt. Andrew Henry, trapping along tributaries of the Missouri River. After surviving months of hardship and Indian attack, he falls victim to a grizzly bear. His throat nearly ripped out, scalp hanging loose and deep slashing wounds to his back, shoulder and thigh, Glass appears to be mortally wounded. Initially, Captain Henry refuses to abandon him and has him carried along the Grand River. Unfortunately, the terrain soon makes transporting Glass impossible. Even though his death seems certain, Henry details two men, a fugitive mercenary, John Fitzgerald, and young Jim Bridger (who lived to become a frontier hero) to stand watch and bury him. After several days, Fitzgerald sights hostile Indians. Taking Glass's rifle and tossing Bridger his knife, Fitzgerald flees with Bridget, leaving Glass. Enraged at being left alone and defenseless, Glass survives against all odds and embarks on a 3,000-mile-long vengeful pursuit of his ignominious betrayers. Told in simple expository language, this is a spellbinding tale of heroism and obsessive retribution.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“The makings of a Western classic, Michael Punke's novel The Revenant provides muscle and sinew to the vengeful and epic tale of mountain man Hugh Glass that even a sow grizzly couldn't rend asunder.” ―Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire novels
“A superb revenge story.” ―The Washington Post Book World
“One of the great tales of the nineteenth-century West.” ―The Salt Lake Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
At any rate, the story centers around legendary "mountain man" Hugh Glass. The time period is the early 1820's, when traders and fur companies were searching out domains in the Rocky Mountains, and in the present day states of Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and the Dakotas. It is also a time only 18 years removed from the return of Lewis and Clark from the Pacific and the triumphs of the Corps of Discovery. Word had spread throughout our young nation of the vast areas of lands where a fortune might be made through the hunting and trapping of animals. The lust for furs, hides, and pelts to propitiate European buyers played a major role in this westward expansion. Thus, endeavors like The Rocky Mountain Fur Company sprang into existence and vied with one another to gain strong footholds in prime furbearer sections of the enormous Missouri Territory.
Often, financial backing was based out of St. Louis, where teams of men were organized to venture up the Missouri River, as well as its tributaries. The book centers around one such team led by a Captain Henry and included such members as John Fitzgerald, Jim Bridger, and Hugh Glass. Along with surviving the harsh elements of the Wild, these men also had to defend themselves against hostile Indian tribes like the Arikara and the Blackfeet. In addition, there was great competition from the Spanish and French that added to the urgency of securing tracts of land rich for trapping.
Much of what we know of these early "mountain men" is centered around both facts and legends. Hugh Glass, Jedediah Smith, and Jim Bridger were three of the first actual white men who ventured into the Rocky Mountains and beyond. In THE REVENANT, we are given an exciting glimpse into a very early and virgin American West. It is no secret that Hugh Glass was a central figure at the time, and he was indeed attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his party. Punke does such a marvelous job of weaving fact and fiction together, and he elaborates on this merger at the novel's end.
What I found most fascinating about this moving saga were the rich backgrounds we are given involving the histories of the major characters. We are treated to accounts not only of Glass, but also of Bridger, Fitzgerald, Henry, and the French voyageurs. The descriptions of the bear ordeal, of Glass's stoic determination, of the Indian attacks, and of survival in the brutal wilderness itself were absolutely compelling. Punke's knowledge and visceral prose make for story telling at its finest. If you enjoy films like JEREMIAH JOHNSON and books like UNDAUNTED COURAGE or CROW KILLER, I believe you will find THE REVENANT to be a splendid read that is well worth your time....
This one is the fictionalized story of Hugh Glass, who really existed, and his remarkable tale of survival in the wilderness after being mauled by a grizzly bear. He was the designated hunter for a trading expedition up the Missouri River in approximately 1823. After his mishap he was left for dead, and worse, his rifle and knife and other basic necessities of survival were taken away from him. Grievously wounded, and initially unable to walk, he finally makes it to a post months later and hundreds of miles away after dodging savage Indians, deadly wolves and terrible weather. He then seeks his revenge on those who abandoned him. As mentioned, it’s a great story.
But there is no depth. The setting for example is barely discussed. There is a river, there are some brown hills, copses of trees, snow. The reader comes away from this without a picture in his mind of this pristine landscape. The Indians are presented as no more than a natural disaster like a hurricane or lightning. One hoped not to run into them, and shot at them if attacked, but that’s about it. We don’t know what they looked like or how they acted or get any kind of an understanding of their culture.
Compare this with Mountain Man, by Vardis Fisher. In Mountain Man, the reader will learn more about wild animals, Indian customs, different Indian tribes, and the natural beauty of this wild place in the first thirty pages than he will in reading Revenant in its entirety. If one is interested in this kind of thing, there are other great ones out there too: Long Rifle, by Stuart Edward White; The Big Sky, by A. B. Guthrie; and finally Pemmican, also by Fisher. If you like these stories, start with them.