Customer Reviews for

The Pioneers

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted May 18, 2010

    Least exciting of the Leatherstocking Tales

    Though this is the fourth book of the "Leatherstocking Tales" in which Nathaniel Bumppo, alias Deerslayer, Hawkeye, Pathfinder, and Leatherstocking, appears when the five books are arranged in the chronological order of Bumppo's life, it was the first published. I had more trouble slogging through it than any of the first three, and I believe that the reason is simple. The Pioneers was not written about the exploits of Natty Bumppo. Yes, he is a main character in the book, but the plot mainly revolves around Judge Marmaduke Temple, who settled the area of Lake Otsego, NY, with his family and activities as the taming of the wilderness interacts with the needs and wishes of the now seventy-year-old hunter.
    It is believed that Cooper based the character of Temple on his own father (the founder of Cooperstown, NY) and the character of Natty Bumppo on some hunter whom Judge Cooper encountered. Natty became such a hero that people wanted more novels about him, so Cooper obliged with The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Pathfinder. Those books are about Natty and his exploits. They are filled with excitement and adventure. The Pioneers is said to be "the most realistic of the Leatherstocking Tales." That may be true, but to me it is also the most boring so far. Like many other novels of the nineteenth century, it begins very slowly with a lot of descriptive introduction and background. The last third of the book has more action and thus is more interesting, but, unfortunately, one cannot understand the last third without having to wade through the first two-thirds.
    Even the afterword in my copy says, "Taken in this context, the novel does not have the appeal of The Deerslayer, in which Natty is presented in all his youthful vigor; The Last of the Mohicans or The Pathfinder, in which he is still in his full strength; or The Prairie, in which he strikes out once more for the Garden of the West and is at last fully portrayed by his creator as one of the really great characters of fiction. But The Pioneers is also the first novel in which Natty appears, and he is obviously not the principle reason why the novel was written. The reader who picks it up, therefore, as just one of the romantic tales of the wilderness scout is in for a disappointment." That is certainly true. Natty is pictured in The Pioneers as a somewhat crotchety and petulant old man, although he is still honest and loyal to a fault. It also seems to me that there is more bad language, with the "d" word and taking the Lord's name in vain, as well as references to drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, than in the previous books. However, it is still an interesting story and fans of Natty Bumppo will not want to miss it.

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    Posted February 22, 2011

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    Posted February 3, 2011

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    Posted March 7, 2011

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