The Revenant : A Novel of Revenge

by Michael Punke

Paperback, 2015





New York : Picador, 2015.


The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Trapping beaver, they contend daily with the threat of Indian tribes turned warlike over the white men's encroachment on their land, and other prairie foes -- like the unforgiving landscape and its creatures. Hugh Glass is among the Company's finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. The Company's captain dispatches two of his men to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies, and to give him the respect of a proper burial. When the two men abandon him instead, taking his only means of protecting himself -- including his precious gun and hatchet -- with them, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out crawling inch by inch across more than three thousand miles of uncharted American frontier, negotiating predators both human and not, the threat of starvation, and the agony of his horrific wounds. (Based on a true story.)… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ecataldi
There's something to be said about reading a good wilderness survival book. That something is I wouldn't last two minutes. However, just because I wouldn't survive, doesn't mean I don't thoroughly enjoy reading all about someone else who would. Even from an early age reading Gary Paulsen, I was always captivated by those much stronger than me. To survive in the wilderness you need to be not only physically strong, but mentally strong, something that the main character in The Revenant certainly is.

Loosely based off of historical events; Hugh Glass, a fur trapper travelling up the Missouri river in 1823, finds himself in a perilous situation. Having been brutally mauled by a bear, the captain of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company leaves two fur trappers behind to look over Hugh while he slowly dies and then give him a proper burial. Unwilling to wait for Hugh to succumb to death, the two trappers not only leave him on his own, but take his weapon and tools, ensuring that he will never survive. The betrayal spurs Hugh Glass into action, slowly he heals with only one thought on his mind, revenge. He will hunt down those who abandoned him and deal out his brand of wilderness revenge. Dodging wild animals, Native Americans, and the perilous winter, revenge is what he heals Hugh and keeps him going. An astoundingly fast paced read. Filled with death, despair, and survival, this will make you glad to live in modern times.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
The Revenant by Michael Punke is based on the story of Hugh Glass, who, in 1823 was travelling up the Grand River with a party of fur trappers. He was attacked and viciously mauled by a grizzly bear. Hugh is not expected to survive and the group needs to move on so two men are left to stay and care for the wounded man and bury him once he dies. Instead these two men, not only abandon him in the wilderness but take his gun and knife. Instead of dying Glass recovers and, driven by grim determination for revenge, he vows to track down the deserters and begins his long crawl to safety.

The author stays very close to the facts that are known about this event and delivers a spellbinding tale of survival and revenge. This was not the first time I have read about Hugh Glass, his story is also the basis for the 1954 National Book Award recipient, Lord Grizzly by Frederick Manfred, but even on the second reading, the details of this man’s survival are incredible. While Lord Grizzly delved into the actual survival story in greater detail, this book deals more with his pledge for retribution.

The Revenant is a great piece of historical fiction both entertaining and informative as well as an excellent adventure story about one man’s willpower and courage to survive against the odds.
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LibraryThing member CinderH
Decent story. I liked the survival part of it better than the revenge part, but that was what interested me in the story to begin with. I felt the end was a little bit of a let down, but after reading the historical note in the back I found that gave me the finality that I needed.
LibraryThing member queencersei
In 1823 trapper Hugh Glass signs on with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. A seasoned trapper, Hugh is well respected by the other men. As the Company travels through what will one day be known as the Wyoming Territory, Glass is savagely attacked and nearly killed by a bear. Left in the care of two of his companions, Glass is instead abandoned, the men stealing is precious rifle and kit. The only means Glass would have of survival.
Instead of dying Glass does survive. And at first agonizingly crawls and then finally walks in an epic quest to catch back up with the Company and the two men who betrayed him. Glass travels through a barely charted wilderness, hostile tribes and a brutal winter in an unforgettable quest for vengeance.
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LibraryThing member brone
This book is well researched and a good read. The Movie version is a politically correct version of the American mountain men and entrepeneurs as the usual nazi invaders.
LibraryThing member Brian55
I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated that Author's Note about the fictional portions he put in. I understand it was mostly based on actual events, and that made it an incredible story of survival. The writing was good but, not great. The story was nice and tight and didn't lag, which is why I gave it 4 stars. I would have rated it higher but, there were instances where the climax was building then the story seemed to just move on to the next scene. Overall a good book.… (more)
LibraryThing member cwflatt
A good retelling of Hugh Glass and his horrific survival tale. The revenge that kept him alive never came to be and that makes you wonder in the end. Would I ever stop chasing those who did me wrong or could I move on and not look back? Other books have given more details as to Hugh's condition but this is still a great telling of his story. Can't waif tor the movie to come out Christmas Day.… (more)
LibraryThing member addunn3
Hugh Glass looses a fight with a grizzly but survives to hunt down the men who abandoned him. Plot is interesting, especially some of the survival techniques the author describes.
LibraryThing member SamSattler
They don’t make many men like Hugh Glass anymore, probably never did. Glass, the Philadelphia-born adventurer, was a hard man to kill, a man who, time after time, miraculously managed to beat the odds that claimed lesser men all around him. Glass’s story was so intriguing, in fact, that newspapers of the day spread his fame across the country and around the world. In the end, though, Glass was best known then (and still is) as the mountain man who survived one of the most horrific grizzly bear attacks ever recorded before “returning from the dead” to track down the two men who robbed him of everything he owned before they abandoned him to what seemed to be his certain death.

But as The Revenant, Michael Punke’s 2002 debut novel illustrates, Hugh Glass was just one of an estimated 3,000 “mountain men” and fur trappers who struggled so mightily to make their fortunes from the beaver population of the American West. Ironically enough, although these men were among the most independently minded ever produced in America, they were forced into a lifestyle of almost military precision for the sake of survival. The Indian tribes whose territory was plundered by the trappers reacted in different ways. Some were willing to live in peace with the invaders, others waged open warfare against them, and some joined the white men in waging war on other tribes. The problem was that the Indians were prone to changing their minds and allegiances almost from one day to the next.

In an environment like this, a man needed someone to watch his back. But when Hugh Glass most needed someone to do exactly that for him as he struggled to recover from the bear mauling, the two men left behind to help him abandoned him at the first hint of danger. Bad as that was, what Glass would never forgive was how John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger robbed him of his rifle, powder, and knife before running off to catch up with the rest of their party – dooming him to an almost certain death.

A lesser man would have just given up and died, but Hugh Glass was not that kind of man. At first crawling only a few dozen yards a day, he began to track the two men he swore to himself he would kill. Eventually he managed to crawl two or three miles a day, then to walk ten miles a day, and finally he was covering twenty or thirty miles between sunrise and sunset. Glass did catch up with the two culprits, but when he did, things did not go quite the way he had expected.

The Revenant is Hugh Glass’s story – and Michael Punke tells it well.
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LibraryThing member kcslade
Pretty good historical novel about Hugh Glass who was mauled by a grizzly and left for dead. He crawled many miles to survive and get revenge.
LibraryThing member Twink
Michael Punke's 2002 novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, isn't one that I would have noticed or picked up were it not for the 2015 award winning film of the same name.

And that would have been a shame, as it's a he** of a good read. What surprised me even more is that it's based on factual historical events and persons. (At the end of the book, I went online to suss out the real story - absolutely fascinating reading)

1823 America. Hugh Glass is one of the best trackers and frontiersmen around, working for The Rocky Mountain Fur Company. When he is severely mauled by a bear, his compatriots carry him as far as they can in the winter mountains. Company Commander Captain Henry pays two men - Fitzgerald and Bridger - to stay with Glass until he dies, then bury him properly. But Fitzgerald has different ideas..... he decides that staying with Glass isn't worth his while. He forces young Bridger to leave Glass to die on his own and the two take off. But not before they steal Glass's gun and knife, leaving him alone and exposed to the elements.

And here's where the revenge part comes into play......Glass is as tough as nails and bent on revenge. And he wants his gun back. What follows is a nail biting fight for his life as Glass begins crawling towards the fort two hundred miles away where Fitzgerald and Bridger are to meet up with the rest of the company.

Punke has brought in many factual events and people - the conflicts between the native tribes and the white men who have come to trap and settle their land. The wilderness and the men living in it are brilliantly described, but it is Hugh Glass who captures the reader. The injustice done to him and his single minded desire to seek revenge on Fitzgerald will have the reader on the edge of their seat, urging him to take one more breath, one more step forward until.....

As I said not my usual fare, but I absolutely loved it. Punke is an absolutely wonderful writer.
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LibraryThing member jrthebutler
Fur trapper Hugh Glass is attacked by a bear and left for dead. He survives and plots revenge on those who robbed and abandoned him.
LibraryThing member acargile
I had planned NOT to read this novel, but I volunteered to lead a discussion for book club, which meant I had to read it. I was quite surprised to find that I enjoyed reading it. I didn't mind picking it up, and I could read for lengths at a time without wanting to stop. I skimmed over the eating of raw animals because I gag just thinking of eating in this manner. I was disturbed by how lucky Hugh Glass was and often wondered at the validity of the events. I felt better after reading the note at the end that much has become legend. I could more easily accept the myriad events that happened to him knowing that it's more legend than fact. It's not a long book, so I'm curious how the movie can be so long. My favorite character was Bridger because he changes and matures to become an important man in the west. I surprisingly enjoyed the novel.… (more)
LibraryThing member mahsdad
Got this because I always prefore to read the book before I see the movie adaptation (even potentially). This was written in 2002 by Michael unke. He is now the US Amabassador to the World Trade Organization. During the run up to the film version of the book, the US State Department forbid him from doing any promotion whatsoever.

The book tells the story of real life frontiersman; Hugh Glass. Glass was a part of a fur trapping expedition and very early on in the book, he is attached and brutally mauled by a bear. Glass is left for dead. He somehow, however, survives and begins a long journey that he starts out crawling on his belly to try to catch up to the men who betrayed him. It starts out as a story of revenge, but ultimately becomes one of redemption. Certainly not a feel good read, but a worth while one. Excellent historical fiction, that skirts on the edge of narrative non-fiction.

I've said it before, but I wouldn't last 5 minutes living in the uncharted west of the 1820's.


S: 12/21/15 - F: 1/14/16 (16 Days)
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LibraryThing member slmr4242
Wow. What a great read!
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
It is the 1820s. Hugh Glass is part of a group of men who set out to start up a new fort for trading. Unfortunately, on the way there, Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear. The group leaves two men behind who are supposed to care for him until he dies, then give him a proper burial. Instead, after only a few days, they rob him and leave. When Glass realizes what happened, he is intent on going after the two who robbed and abandoned him to enact his revenge.

It took a few chapters for me to get interested, but as soon as the attack happened, that caught my attention. I wasn't as interested in the info about how the men all got to be where they were. I found the parts that focused on Glass and his survival while he was on his own to be the most interesting to me. Although I mostly enjoy historical fiction, I find western-type historical fiction isn't always my “thing”, so I suspect that's (at least in part) why I didn't enjoy this more. There was a historical note, as Glass was a real person and the premise of the story really did happen; of course, the details the author filled in for the story are fictional.
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LibraryThing member Tanya-dogearedcopy
It's an absolutely fascinating and unforgettable story based on the real life of Hugh Glass. It's well-researched, almost to the point of it reading like non-fiction; and Punke's inelegant style deadens the prose; but it's worth the time to take and read!
LibraryThing member ko40370
The movie was better. Usually the book is better than the movie...not this time. The ending was especially anti-climatic.
LibraryThing member LJayLeBlanc
Enjoyable historical fiction work. Compelling story and good writing. As much as I wanted to rank this book higher, I simply couldn't because of the big let down in the end. The denouement is decidedly disappointing. It's as though the author simply got tired of writing, decided to stop and chose what he thought to be the quickest resolution to a complex situation. Hugh Glass' actions in the end just do not comport with his vengeful quest throughout the entire book. All that Glass went through and then suddenly, in the midst of pursuit, he's almost there and then...ah, nevermind. Just doesn't make sense. A disappointing conclusion to an otherwise riveting book.

Holter Graham is absolutely magnificent. His accents, foreign languages, inflections and character building are spot on. It was worth the time on this book just to listen to Holter. He saved this book from an otherwise dismal review.
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LibraryThing member samlives2
I have never said this before in my life, but go see the movie and skip this book.
Michael Punke is a self-identified history nerd who wanted to turn one of the incredible stories he'd stumbled upon in his hobby into a gripping historical novel, but would seem to have bitten off more than he was prepared to handle. This novel lacks any sort of character development, and many of the characters never become more than flat shapes with uncompelling dialogue. Punke never really explores the mindset of his hero - a man abandoned to die, surviving against all odds, and finding himself risking his own death just for revenge. The man who abandoned him is given even less development, the description of his rocky past exploits standing in for any justification or explanation of his actions or choices. Action falls flat as well, failing to make the reader feel any of the stakes involved through all of the danger the characters experience.
Punke embellishes a bare bones history with his own inventions, but it is difficult not to compare them to the same embellishments made by the film based on this novel. Where Punke invents white male traders as fodder for the arrows of natives, Alejandor Inarritu includes a wide variety of characters, including trappers, soldiers, and natives from various tribes and of varying dispositions towards the main cast of characters. Mostly this novel is left me wondering "What could have been?", a question for which the Oscar-winning film unfortunately had a better answer for.
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LibraryThing member stephanie_M
This is a fantastic novel and is highly recommended by me. The audiobook is narrated by Holter Graham, who was very good with dialects, accents, and sounding like the unfortunate wounding of the lead character.
4 stars, and recommended to all.
LibraryThing member Hagelstein
A stunningly good book. Nothing flashy about it other than a well-told story. The day to day survival of Hugh Glass and the fully imagined, well-researched details, including nature, geography, weather and the relationships between the various tribes, fur traders and the army.
LibraryThing member JBreedlove
A little slow to start but what a survey of an interesting man's life in a time and place that was a bit of a blank to me. Even if some was dramatic fill in was included. From Jean LaFitte to the Pawnees to the Rocky Mts. What a life.
LibraryThing member karenvg3
Had this story not been based on a true story it would have been a bit hard to believe. That a man could go through this much and still survive is dumbfounding. I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. Again I was reading it before seeing the movie. I would recommend it and can't wait to see the movie.
LibraryThing member lwobbe
Based on a true story! Bear mauling of a beaver trapper, left for dead and raided of his gun and anything else that would have made his life possible, survives, and eventually finds his raiders. Unbelievable! Author fleshes out the known facts to put you in the saddle. Want to see the movie!



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