By David Robbins
Signet, February 2011
James Doyle is just another Irish boy in the Five Points slum of New York City until his father dies. In the struggle for survival, James is schooled in violence as a member of a street gang. And like many a boy, he makes some wrong choices and ends up on the run from the law….
But no one can flee forever. When James lands in more trouble, a judge gives him a choice: Go to prison or serve in the army. Soon James is sent west as a raw recruit in the cavalry, and he discovers enemies more brutal and dangerous than any found back home: the Cheyenne, the Kiowa, and the Sioux.
This book is somewhat different to the majority of westerns published today, for two reasons. The first being that the main part of the story is about the Indian Wars: Cavalry v Indian. The second being that David Robbins tells a tale that covers more or less the whole life of James Doyle: Life to death – I say more or less as James is a young boy when we first meet him.
Due to the length of the book time has to pass quickly in some places but we share all the life changing moments in James’ life. We share his happiness, sadness, achievements, mistakes, and ambitions. We see how each of these effect his later life; such as how he reflects that the companionship of his fellow soldiers is not that different to his friendships made during his earlier years as a street gang member.
David Robbins prose is very readable, often painting vivid images within my minds eye. Who will be able to forget the scene with the buffalo? The action, and there is plenty of it, is first rate and often brutal, at times quite graphic in description. Dialogue crackles and includes many humorous lines.
The story is told in short chapters that encourage the reader to just read another couple, and then another, so before you know it you arrive at the last page.
For fans of David Robbins’ work this is a must read. For those who like cavalry v Indian stories then this should be on your reading list. And for those of you who just enjoy well written, action packed, westerns then I would recommend this to you too.
Ride to Valor should be available now. If it isn’t then it should appear in bookstores any day. (For some reason we in the UK were able to get hold of it at the end of January)