With his revered classics The Big Sky and The Way West, A. B. Guthrie, Jr., claimed his preeminent post as the father of the western epic. Fair Land, Fair Land, first published in 1982, marks the sequel to his two masterworks and rounds out a chronological gap, the mid-nineteenth century, in Guthrie's Big Sky series. Reappearing here is Dick Summers, of the earlier sagas, now a wizened conservationist who seeks retribution from his former compatriot Boone Caudill and renewed companionship with the self-reliant Teal Eye. Imbued with a rich sense for the impermanence of the idyllic plains, this tour de force offers a stirring commentary on a country's physical and spiritual erosion, as relevant today as it was a decade ago.
Guthrie places Summers in an extended autumn both of
But the idyll does come to an end. The game gradually gets harder and harder to find, whites intrude more closely, and finally the soldiers come to establish a fort. The book ends with the Marias River Massacre.
There's no way to make of this era a happy story and Guthrie doesn't try. A fine ending to the Dick Summers trilogy.
This book had to be written for two reasons. One, readers of Guthrie's first two novels wanted to learn of the fates of Boone Caudill, Summers's dark-hearted protege in "The Big Sky," and Teal Eye, Caudill's abandoned squaw. Two, the novel fills a gap in the timeline of Guthrie's series of Western novels. It narrates skillfully the end of the mountain man era and the ascendency of frontier army control over the Rocky Mountain Indian population.
Prepare to be emotionally moved.