Comanche Moon

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Overview

We join Texas Rangers August McCrae and Woodrow F. Call in their middle years, just beginning to deal with the perplexing tensions of adult life - Gus and his great love, Clara Forsythe; Call and Maggie Tilton, the young whore who loves him - when they enlist with a Ranger troop in pursuit of Buffalo Hump, the great Comanche war chief; Kicking Wolf, the celebrated Comanche horse thief; and a deadly Mexican bandit king with a penchant for torture. Assisting the Rangers in their wild chase is the renowned Kickapoo ...
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Overview

We join Texas Rangers August McCrae and Woodrow F. Call in their middle years, just beginning to deal with the perplexing tensions of adult life - Gus and his great love, Clara Forsythe; Call and Maggie Tilton, the young whore who loves him - when they enlist with a Ranger troop in pursuit of Buffalo Hump, the great Comanche war chief; Kicking Wolf, the celebrated Comanche horse thief; and a deadly Mexican bandit king with a penchant for torture. Assisting the Rangers in their wild chase is the renowned Kickapoo tracker, Famous Shoes. Comanche Moon joins the twenty-year time line between Dead Man's Walk and Lonesome Dove, as we follow beloved heroes Gus and Call and their comrades-in-arms - Deets, Jake Spoon, and Pea Eye Parker - in their bitter struggle to protect an advancing Western frontier against the defiant Comanches, courageously determined to defend their territory and their way of life. At once realistic and yet vividly imagined, Comanche Moon is a giant of a book - written by one of America's most honored and distinguished novelists - and the keystone to a mighty achievement of storytelling, unparalleled for its sweep, its meticulous re-creation of the past, its sheer energy, and its celebration of life: an epic adventure full of heroism, tragedy, cruelty, courage, honor and betrayal, and the culmination of Larry McMurtry's peerless vision of the American West.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If you've ever wondered what happened between Dead Man's Walk and Lonesome Dove, here's your chance to find out.
Kirkus Reviews
McMurtry returns to reliable form in this follow-up to Dead Man's Walk (1995) that serves as a second prequel to his Texas epic Lonesome Dove (1985).

As the great Comanche warrior Buffalo Hump slowly succumbs to weakness and old age, a younger generation both of Texans and Comanches rises to power. Buffalo Hump's son, Blue Duck, breaks away from his father to form a band of renegades who prefer the Texans' guns to the bow and arrow and their own whims to traditional ways. Events are set in motion by the theft of a great warhorse belonging to Harvard-educated adventurer and Texas ranger, Captain Inish Scull. The thief, a Comanche, resolves to undertake a mad display of heroism by presenting the animal to the Mexican warlord Ahumado (the "Black Vaquero") renowned for the creative methods of torture he visits on anyone foolish enough to cross him. Captain Scull, unhinged by the incident, sets off in pursuit and falls into Ahumado's hands. A brutal Comanche raid on Austin at the same time spurs the rise of two tough, bright, experienced young rangers: affable, whiskey- and whore-obsessed Augustus McCrae, who's nevertheless steadfast in his devotion to Clara Forsythe, an independent-minded shopkeeper who breaks his heart by marrying a more stable man; and dour, sensible, lethal Woodrow Call, who can't quite bring himself to acknowledge his illegitimate son or marry the sweet-natured prostitute with whom he has a longstanding relationship. The two battle-hardened friends sort out their troubles with women, tangle with the Comanches and Ahumado, and quietly become (reluctant) legends on the frontier.

While the last third turns workmanlike in its efforts to set up the opening situation of Lonesome Dove, McMurtry nevertheless delivers a generally fine tableau of western life, full of imaginative exploits, convincing historical background, and characters who are alive.

From the Publisher
"McMurtry is one of our finest storytellers, and he's at his best here."—Kyle Smith, People

"Consistently entertaining."—Gene Lyons, Entertainment Weekly

"Comanche Moon has its considerable pleasures . . . a singular treat."—Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

"Almost impossible to put down . . . McMurtry knows how to deploy his most suspenseful episodes for maximum effect. he treats his large cast of characters with humor and respect."—Judith Wynn, Boston Herald

"[A] fine tableau of western life, full of imaginative exploits, convincing historical background, and characters who are alive."—Kirkus Reviews

"A monumental work that has few equals in current literature."—Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780613075145
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Series: Lonesome Dove Series
  • Pages: 703
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Biography

Back in the late 60s, the fact that Larry McMurtry was not a household name was really a thorn in the side of the writer. To illustrate his dissatisfaction with his status, he would go around wearing a T-shirt that read "Minor Regional Novelist." Well, more than thirty books, two Oscar-winning screenplays, and a Pulitzer Prize later, McMurtry is anything but a minor regional novelist.

Having worked on his father's Texas cattle ranch for a great deal of his early life, McMurtry had an inborn fascination with the West, both its fabled history and current state. However, he never saw himself as a life-long rancher and aspired to a more creative career. He achieved this at the age of 25 when he published his first novel. Horseman, Pass By was a wholly original take on the classic western. Humorous, heartbreaking, and utterly human, this story of a hedonistic cowboy in contemporary Texas was a huge hit for the young author and even spawned a major motion picture starring Paul Newman called Hud just two years after its 1961 publication. Extraordinarily, McMurtry was even allowed to write the script, a rare honor for such a novice.

With such an auspicious debut, it is hard to believe that McMurtry ever felt as though he'd been slighted by the public or marginalized as a minor talent. While all of his books may not have received equal attention, he did have a number of astounding successes early in his career. His third novel The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age-in-the-southwest story, became a genuine classic, drawing comparisons to J. D. Salinger and James Jones. In 1971, Peter Bogdonovich's screen adaptation of the novel would score McMurtry his first Academy award for his screenplay. Three years later, he published Terms of Endearment, a critically lauded urban family drama that would become a hit movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine in 1985.

That year, McMurtry published what many believe to be his definitive novel. An expansive epic sweeping through all the legends and characters that inhabited the old west, Lonesome Dove was a masterpiece. All of the elements that made McMurtry's writing so distinguished -- his skillful dialogue, richly drawn characters, and uncanny ability to establish a fully-realized setting -- convened in this Pulitzer winning story of two retired Texas rangers who venture from Texas to Montana. The novel was a tremendous critical and commercial favorite, and became a popular miniseries in 1989.

Following the massive success of Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry's prolificacy grew. He would publish at least one book nearly every year for the next twenty years, including Texasville, a gut-wrenching yet hilarious sequel to The Last Picture Show, Buffalo Girls, a fictionalized account of the later days of Calamity Jane, and several non-fiction titles, such as Crazy Horse.

Interestingly, McMurtry would receive his greatest notoriety in his late 60s as the co-screenwriter of Ang Lee's controversial film Brokeback Mountain. The movie would score the writer another Oscar and become one of the most critically heralded films of 2005. The following year he published his latest novel. Telegraph Days is a freewheeling comedic run-through of western folklore and surely one of McMurtry's most inventive stories and enjoyable reads. Not bad for a "minor regional novelist."

Good To Know

A miniseries based on McMurtry's novel Comanche Moon is currently in production. McMurtry co-wrote the script.

The first-printing of McMurtry's novel In a Narrow Grave is one of his most obscure for a rather obscure reason. The book was withdrawn because the word "skyscrapers" was misspelled as "skycrappers" on page 105.

McMurtry comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers. His father and eight of his uncles were all in the profession.

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    1. Hometown:
      Archer City, Texas
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 3, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wichita Falls, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1

CAPTAIN INISH SCULL liked to boast that he had never been thwarted in pursuit -- as he liked to put it -- of a felonious foe, whether Spanish, savage, or white.

"Nor do I expect to have to make an exception in the present instance," he told his twelve rangers. "If you've got any sacking with you, tie it around your horses' heads. I've known cold sleet like this to freeze a horse's eyelids, and that's not good. These horses will need smooth use of their eyelids tomorrow, when the sun comes out and we run these thieving Comanches to ground."

Captain Scull was a short man, but forceful. Some of the men called him Old Nails, due to his habit of casually picking his teeth with a horseshoe nail -- sometimes, if his ire rose suddenly, he would actually spit the nail at whoever he was talking to.

"This'll be good," Augustus said, to his friend Woodrow Call. The cold was intense and the sleet constant, cutting their faces as they drove on north. All the rangers' beards were iced hard; some complained that they were without sensation, either in hands or feet or both. But, on the llano, it wasn't yet full dark; in the night it would undoubtedly get colder, with what consequences for men and morale no one could say. A normal commander would have made camp and ordered up a roaring campfire, but Inish Scull was not a normal commander. "I'm a Texas Ranger and by God I range," he said often. "I despise a red thief like the devil despises virtue. If I have to range night and day to check their thieving iniquity, then I'll range night and day."

"Bible and sword," he usually added. "Bible and sword."

At the moment no red thieves were in sight; nothing was insight except the sleet that sliced across the formless plain. Woodrow Call, Augustus McCrae, and the troop of cold, tired, dejected rangers were uncomfortably aware, though, that they were only a few yards from the western edge of the Palo Duro Canyon. It was Call's belief that Kicking Wolf, the Comanche horse thief they were pursuing, had most likely slipped down into the canyon on some old trail. Inish Scull might be pursuing Indians that were below and behind him, in which case the rangers might ride all night into the freezing sleet for nothing.

"What'll be good, Gus?" Woodrow Call inquired of his friend Augustus. The two rode close together as they had through their years as rangers.

Augustus McCrae didn't fear the cold night ahead, but he did dread it, as any man with a liking for normal comforts would. 'I've cold wind had been searing their faces for two days, singing down at them from the northern prairies. Gus would have liked a little rest, but he knew Captain Scull too well to expect to get any while their felonious foe was still ahead of them.

"What'll be good?" Call asked again. Gus McCrae was always making puzzling comments and then forgetting to provide any explanation.

"Kicking Wolf's never been caught, and the Captain's never been run off from," Gus said. "That's going to change, for one of them. Who would you bet on, Woodrow, if we were to wager -- Old Nails, or Kicking Wolf?"

"I wouldn't bet against the Captain, even if I thought he was wrong," Call said. "He's the Captain."

"I know, but the man's got no sense about weather," Augustus remarked. "Look at him. His damn beard's nothing but a sheet of brown ice, but the fool keeps spitting tobacco juice right into this wind."

Woodrow Call made no response to the remark. Gus was overtalkative, and always had been. Unless in violent combat, he was rarely silent for more than two minutes at a stretch, besides which, he felt free to criticize everything from the Captain's way with tobacco to Call's haircuts.

It was true, though, that Captain Scull was in the habit of spitting his tobacco juice directly in front of him, regardless of wind speed or direction, the result being that his garments were often stained with tobacco juice to an extent that shocked most ladies and even offended some men. In fact, the wife of Governor E. M. Pease had recently caused something of a scandal by fuming Captain Scull back at her door, just before a banquet, on account of his poor appearance.

"Inish, you'll drip on my lace tablecloth. Go clean yourself up," Mrs. Pease told the Captain -- it was considered a bold thing to say to the man who was generally regarded as the most competent Texas Ranger ever to take the field.

"Ma'am, I'm a poor ruffian, I fear I'm a stranger to lacy gear," Inish Scull had replied, an untruth certainly, for it was well known that he had left a life of wealth and ease in Boston to ranger on the Western frontier. It was even said that he was a graduate of Harvard College; Woodrow Call, for one, believed it, for the Captain was very particular in his speech and invariably read books around the campfire, on the nights when he was disposed to allow a campfire. His wife, Inez, a Birmingham belle, was so beautiful at forty that no man in the troop, or, for that matter, in Austin, could resist stealing glances at her.

It was now full dusk. Call could barely see Augustus, and Augustus was only a yard or two away. He could not see Captain Scull at all, though he had been attempting to follow directly behind him. Fortunately, though, he could hear Captain Scull's great warhorse, Hector, an animal that stood a full eighteen hands high and weighed more than any two of the other horses in the troop. Hector was just ahead, crunching steadily through the sleet. In the winter Hector's coat grew so long and shaggy that the Indians called him the Buffalo Horse, both because of his shagginess and because of his great strength. So far as Call knew, Hector was the most powerful animal in Texas a match in strength for bull, bear, or buffalo. Weather meant nothing to him: often on freezing mornings they would see Captain Scull rubbing his hands together in front of Hector's nose, warning them on his hot breath. Hector was slow and heavy, of course -- many a horse could run off and leave him. Even mules could outrun him -- but then, sooner or dater, the mule or the pony would tire and Hector would keep coming, his big feet crunching grass, or splashing through mud, or churning up clouds of snow. On some long pursuits the men would change mounts two or three times, but Hector was the Captain's only horse. Twice he had been hit by arrows and once shot in the flank by Ahumado, a felonious foe more hated by Captain Scull than either Kicking Wolf or Buffalo Hump. Ahumado, known as the Black Vaquero, was a master of ambush; he had shot down at the Captain from a tiny pocket of a cave, in a sheer cliff in Mexico. Though Ahumado had hit the Captain in the shoulder, causing him to bleed profusely, Captain Scull had insisted that Hector be looked at first. Once recovered, Inish Scull's ire was such that he had tried to persuade Governor Pease to redeclare war on Mexico; or, failing that, to let him drag a brace of cannon over a thousand miles of desert to blast Ahumado out of his stronghold in the Yellow Cliffs.

Copyright © 1997 by Larry McMurtry

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First Chapter

Captain Inish Scull liked to boast that he had never been thwarted in pursuit--as he liked to put it--of a felonious foe, whether Spanish, savage, or white.

"Nor do I expect to have to make an exception in the present instance," he told his twelve rangers. "If you've got any sacking with you, tie it around your horses' heads. I've known cold sleet like this to freeze a horse's eyelids, and that's not good. These horses will need smooth use of their eyelids tomorrow, when the sun comes out and we run these thieving Comanches to ground."

Captain Scull was a short man, but forceful. Some of the men called him Old Nails, due to his habit of casually picking his teeth with a horseshoe nail--sometimes, if his ire rose suddenly, he would actually spit the nail at whoever he was talking to.

"This'll be good," Augustus said, to his friend Woodrow Call. The cold was intense and the sleet constant, cutting their faces as they drove on north. All the rangers' beards were iced hard; some complained that they were without sensation, either in hands or feet or both. But, on the Ilano, it wasn't yet full dark; in the night it would undoubtedly get colder, with what consequences for men and morale no one could say. A normal commander would have made camp and ordered up a roaring campfire, but Inish Scull was not a normal commander. "I'm a Texas Ranger and by God I range," he said often. "I despise a red thief like the devil despises virtue. If I have to range night and day to check their thieving iniquity, then I'll range night and day."

"Bible and sword," he usually added. "Bible and sword."

At the moment no red thieves were in sight; nothing was in sight except the sleet that sliced across the formless plain. Woodrow Call, Augustus McCrae, and the troop of cold, tired, dejected rangers were uncomfortably aware, though, that they were only a few yards from the western edge of the Palo Duro Canyon. It was Call's belief that Kicking Wolf, the Comanche horse thief they were pursuing, had most likely slipped down into the canyon on some old trail. Inish Scull might be pursuing Indians that were below and behind him, in which case the rangers might ride all night into the freezing sleet for nothing.

"What'll be good, Gus?" Woodrow Call inquired of his friend Augustus. The two rode close together as they had through their years as rangers.

Augustus McCrae didn't fear the cold night ahead, but he did dread it, as any man with a liking for normal comforts would. The cold wind had been searing their faces for two days, singing down at them from the northern prairies. Gus would have liked a little rest, but he knew Captain Scull too well to expect to get any while their felonious foe was still ahead of them.

"What'll be good?" Call asked again. Gus McCrae was always making puzzling comments and then forgetting to provide any explanation.

"Kicking Wolf's never been caught, and the Captain's never been run off from," Gus said. "That's going to change, for one of them. Who would you bet on, Woodrow, if we were to wager--Old Nails, or Kicking Wolf?"

"I wouldn't bet against the Captain, even if I thought he was wrong," Call said. "He's the Captain."

"I know, but the man's got no sense about weather," Augustus remarked. "Look at him. His damn beard's nothing but a sheet of brown ice, but the fool keeps spitting tobacco juice right into this wind."

Woodrow Call made no response to the remark. Gus was over-talkative, and always had been. Unless in violent combat, he was rarely silent for more than two minutes at a stretch, besides which, he felt free to criticize everything from the Captain's way with tobacco to Call's haircuts.

It was true, though, that Captain Scull was in the habit of spitting his tobacco juice directly in front of him, regardless of wind speed or direction, the result being that his garments were often stained with tobacco juice to an extent that shocked most ladies and even offended some men. In fact, the wife of Governor E. M. Pease had recently caused something of a scandal by turning Captain Scull back at her door, just before a banquet, on account of his poor appearance.

"Irish, you'll drip on my lace tablecloth. Go clean yourself up," Mrs. Pease told the Captain--it was considered a bold thing to say to the man who was generally regarded as the most competent Texas Ranger ever to take the field.

"Ma'am, I'm a poor ruffian, I fear I'm a stranger to lacy gear," Inish Scull had replied, an untruth certainly, for it was well known that he had left a life of wealth and ease in Boston to ranger on the Western frontier. It was even said that he was a graduate of Harvard College; Woodrow Call, for one, believed it, for the Captain was very particular in his speech and invariably read books around the campfire, on the nights when he was disposed to allow a campfire. His wife, Inez, a Birmingham belle, was so beautiful at forty that no man in the troop, or, for that matter, in Austin, could resist stealing glances at her.

It was now full dusk. Call could barely see Augustus, and Augustus was only a yard or two away. He could not see Captain Scull at all, though he had been attempting to follow directly behind him. Fortunately, though, he could hear Captain Scull's great warhorse, Hector, an animal that stood a full eighteen hands high and weighed more than any two of the other horses in the troop. Hector was just ahead, crunching steadily through the sleet. In the winter Hector's coat grew so long and shaggy that the Indians called him the Buffalo Horse, both because of his shagginess and because of his great strength. So far as Call knew, Hector was the most powerful animal in Texas, a match in strength for bull, bear, or buffalo. Weather meant nothing to him: often on freezing mornings they would see Captain Scull rubbing his hands together in front of Hector's nose, warming them on his hot breath. Hector was slow and heavy, of course--many a horse could run off and leave him. Even mules could outrun him--but then, sooner or later, the mule or the pony would tire and Hector would keep coming, his big feet crunching grass, or splashing through mud, or churning up clouds of snow. On some long pursuits the men would change mounts two or three times, but Hector was the Captain's only horse. Twice he had been hit by arrows and once shot in the flank by Ahumado, a felonious foe more hated by Captain Scull than either Kicking Wolf or Buffalo Hump. Ahumado, known as the Black Vaquero, was a master of ambush; he had shot down at the Captain from a tiny pocket of a cave, in a sheer cliff in Mexico. Though Ahumado had hit the Captain in the shoulder, causing him to bleed profusely, Captain Scull had insisted that Hector be looked at first. Once recovered, Inish Scull's ire was such that he had tried to persuade Governor Pease to redeclare war on Mexico; or, failing that, to let him drag a brace of cannon over a thousand miles of desert to blast Ahumado out of his stronghold in the Yellow Cliffs.

"Cannons--you want to take cannons across half of Mexico?" the astonished governor asked. "After one bandit? Why, that would be a damnable expense. The legislature would never stand for it, sir."

"Then I resign, and damn the goddamn legislature!" Inish Scull had said. "I won't be denied my vengeance on the black villain who shot my horse!"

The Governor stood firm, however. After a week of heavy tippling, the Captain--to everyone's relief--had quietly resumed his command. It was the opinion of everyone in Texas that the whole frontier would have been lost had Captain Inish Scull chosen to stay resigned.

Now Call could just see, as the sleet thinned a little, the white clouds of Hector's breath.

"Crowd close now," he said, turning to the weary rangers. "Gus and me will keep up with Hector, but you'll have to keep up with us. Don't veer to the right, whatever you do. The canyon's to the right, and the drop is sheer."

"Sheer--that means straight down to doom," Augustus said to the men. He remembered the first time he and Woodrow had skirted the Palo Duro, after foolishly signing up for an ill-planned expedition whose aim had been to capture Santa Fe and annex Nuevo Mexico. That time the whole troop, more than one hundred men, had to scramble over the edge of the canyon to escape a blazing ring of grass, set a fire by Buffalo Hump's Comanches. Many of the men and most of the horses had fallen to their deaths. But, on that occasion at least, they had made their scramble in daylight and had run for the cliffs over firm prairie. Now it was dusk on a winter's night, with no cover, poor visibility, and ground so slick that it was hard even to travel at a steady clip. A slip on the edge of the canyon would send a man straight into space.

"You didn't loan me that sacking--don't you have any?" Augustus asked.

"I have mine--where's yours?" Call asked. "I don't know if mine will stretch for two horses."

Augustus did not reply. In fact, he had been in a whore's tent near Fort Belknap when the news came that Kicking Wolf had run off twenty horses from a ranch near Albany. Gus had barely had time to pull his pants on before the rangers were in the saddle and on the move. It had been a warmish day, and he was sweaty from his exertions with the whore--the notion that four days later he would be in a sleet storm at dusk on the Palo Duro, a storm so bad that his horse's eyelids were in danger of freezing, had never crossed his mind. Most pursuits of Comanche or Kiowa lasted a day or two at most--usually the Indians would stop to feast on stolen horseflesh, laying themselves open to attack.

Kicking Wolf, of course, had always been superior when it came to making off with Texas horses. On the errant Santa Fe expedition, when Call and Augustus had been green rangers, not yet twenty years old, Kicking Wolf had stolen a sizable number of horses from them, just before the Comanches set the grass fire that had trapped the whole troop and forced them into the very canyon they were skirting now.

"I plumb forgot my sacking," Gus admitted--he didn't mention the whore.

"You can have my sacking," Call said. "I don't intend to ride a blind horse, sleet or no sleet." Horses were apt to slip or step in holes even when they could see where they were going. To be riding a blind horse over slippery footing on the edge of a canyon seemed to him to be asking for worse trouble than frozen eyelids.

While Augustus was adjusting Call's piece of rough sacking over his horse's eyes, Long Bill Coleman came trotting up beside them. Long Bill had been with them on the Santa Fe expedition, after which, due to the rigors he had endured on their march as captives across the Jornada del Muerto, he had given up rangering in favor of carpentry, a change of profession that only lasted a few months, thanks to Bill Coleman's inability to drive a nail straight or saw a plank evenly. After six months of bent nails and crookedly sawn planks, Long Bill gave up on town trades forever and rejoined the ranger troop.

"It's night, ain't we stopping, Gus?" Long Bill asked.

"Do we look like we're stopped?" Gus replied, a little testily. Long Bill had the boresome habit of asking questions to which the answers were obvious.

"If we were stopping there'd be a campfire," Gus added, growing more and more annoyed with Long Bill for his thoughtless habits. "Do you see a campfire, sir?"

"No, and don't you be sirring me, you dern yapper," Long Bill said. "All I was asking is how long it will be before we have a chance to get warm."

"Shush," Call said. "You two can argue some other time. I hear something."

He drew rein, as did Gus. The rangers behind crowded close. Soon they all heard what Call heard: a wild, echoing war cry from somewhere in the dark, sleety canyon below. The war cry was repeated, and then repeated again. There was one voice at first, but then other voices joined in--Call, who liked to be precise in such matters, thought he counted at least seven voices echoing up from the canyon. He could not be sure, though--the canyon ran with echoes, and the gusts of north wind snatched the war cries, muffling some and bringing others closer.

"They're mocking us," Call said. "They know we can't chase 'em down a cliff in the dark--not in this weather. They're mocking us, boys."

"It's nothing but extremes around this damn Palo Duro Canyon," Long Bill remarked. "Last time we was here we nearly got cooked, and this time we're half froze."

"I guess your mouth ain't froze, you're still asking them dumb questions," Gus observed.

"I wonder if the Captain heard that?" Call said. "The Captain's a little deaf."

"Not that deaf, he ain't," Gus said. "When he wants to hear something, he hears it. When he don't want to hear it, you might as well save your breath."

"What'd you ever say to the Captain that he didn't want to hear?" Call asked, dismounting. He intended to make careful approach to the canyon edge and see if he could spot any campfires down below them. If there was evidence of a sizable camp of Comanches, perhaps Captain Scull could be persuaded to make camp and wait for a chance to attack.

"I asked him for a five-dollar advance on my wages, one time," Augustus said. "He could have said no, but he didn't say anything. He just acted as if I wasn't there."

"You shouldn't have asked in the first place," Call said. "Wages are supposed to last till payday."

"I had expenses," Gus said, knowing well that it was pointless to discuss financial problems with his frugal friend. Woodrow Call rarely even spent up his wages in the course of a month, whereas Gus never failed to spend his to the last penny, or perhaps even a few dollars beyond the last penny. Something always tempted him: if it wasn't just a pretty whore it might be a new six-shooter, a fine vest, or even just a better grade of whiskey, which, in most of the places he bought whiskey, just meant a liquor mild enough that it wouldn't immediately take the hide off a skunk.

Before they could discuss the matter further, they heard sleet crunching just ahead, and suddenly the great horse Hector, his shaggy coat steaming, loomed over them. Captain Inish Scull hadn't stopped, but at least he had turned.

"Why are we halted, Mr. Call?" he asked. "I didn't request a halt."

"No sir, but we heard a passel of whooping, down in the canyon," Call said. "I thought I'd look and see if I could spot the Comanche camp."

"Of course there's a camp, Mr. Call, but they're the wrong Comanches," Captain Scull said. "That's Buffalo Hump down there--we're after Kicking Wolf, if you'll remember. He's our horse thief."

As usual, Captain Scull spoke with complete assurance. They had only been on the edge of the Palo Duro a few minutes, and it was too dark to see much, even if the sleet would have let them. Buffalo Hump and Kicking Wolf, though rivals, often raided together: how did the Captain know that one was camped in the canyon and the other ranging somewhere ahead?

They had a gifted scout, to be sure, a Kickapoo named Famous Shoes, but Famous Shoes had been gone for two days and had made no report.

"That's Buffalo Hump's main camp down there, Mr. Call," Inish Scull said. "We're no match for him--we're only thirteen men, and anyway it's Kicking Wolf I want. I expect to overtake him on the Canadian River about sunup day after tomorrow, if there is a sunup day after tomorrow."

"Why, sir, there's always sunup," Long Bill Coleman said--he was a little jolted by the Captain's remark, and the reason he was jolted was that his large wife, Pearl--the one town trade he hadn't abandoned--was convinced on religious grounds that the world would end in the near future. Pearl's view was that the Almighty would soon pour hot lava over the world, as a response to human wickedness. Now they were beside the Palo Duro Canyon, a big, mysterious hole in the ground--what if it suddenly filled up with hot lava and overflowed onto the world? Cold as he was, the prospect of the world ending in a flood of hot lava did not appeal to Long Bill at all. The fact that Captain Scull had questioned whether there would be a sunup had the effect of making him nervous. He had never met a man as learned as Captain Scull--if the Captain had some reason to doubt the likelihood of future sunrises, then there might be something to Pearl's apprehension, after all.

"Oh, I'm confident the sun will do its duty, and the planets as well," Captain Scull said. "The sun will be there, where it should be. Whether we will see it is another matter, Mr. Coleman."

Gus McCrae found the remark curious. If the sun was where it should be, of course they would see it.

"Captain, if the sun's there, why wouldn't we see it?" he asked.

"Well, it could be cloudy weather--I expect it will be," Captain Scull said. "That's one reason we might not see sunup. Another reason is that we all might be dead. Beware the pale horse, the Bible says."

Inish Scull let that remark soak in--it amused him to say such things to his untutored and uncomprehending men. Then he turned his horse.

"Don't be peeking into canyons unless I tell you to, Mr. Call," he said. "It's icy footing, and too dark for accurate observation anyway."

Call was irked by the Captain's tone. Of course he knew it was icy footing. But he said nothing--by then Inish Scull had turned his great horse and gone clomping away, into the night. There was no one to say anything to, except Augustus and Long Bill. After one more glance into the darkening canyon, he got back on his horse and followed his captain north.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 52 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    Commanche Moon

    This is a wonderful book! It is about double the length of dead mans walk, and the plot is alittle more dull. But it still is a great book! You learn alot more about who call and gus really are which is good. The book seems to have almost ended 3/4 the way through and the last part is just setting up for lonesome dove. Dead man's walk is better but this was still a great way to follow and lead into lonesome dover.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Another McMurtry Triumph

    To date I have purchased and read Dead Man's Walk and Comanche Moon, the first two books in the four book series regarding the adventures of Gus and Call (central characters). I have also purchased Lonesome Dove and The Streets of Laredo, the remaining two books in the series and am looking forward to reading those.
    Larry McMurtry spins an exciting yarn that keeps you reading well past the time you originally planned to put the book down for the day.
    I readily admit that I wish there were more books in the series.
    At any rate, readers have my strongest recommendation for reading this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2003

    Comanche Moon Saga was amazing

    I have been fan of Larry McMurtry since I was a little girl. Everytime I would read one of his books, I feel as though I was there in the old west. Comanche Moon was an amazing book! I only wish it were a movie to be included in my Lonesome Dove video series. It answers a lot of questions about the Rangers, it provides all the smart comments that Augustus and William spouted off at one another in the movies. Augustus with his love for women, and Call with his mind for business. It answers a lot of questions on where Blue Duck came from, and why he's so mean. Even Captain Skull's horse; Buffalo Horse... to the Comanche's, had a personality! Larry McMurtry is an amazing writer! Bringing all his characters to life in the old west! Though life was SO hard for the women then, sometimes I wish I were born back in the 1800's.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Great Build-up to Lonesome Dove

    Honestly, I thought that Gus's characterization in Dead Man's Walk bordered on caricature, but in Comanche Moon McMurtry begins to introduce us to the Gus we all know and love in Lonesome Dove. I thought Maggie's life was portrayed well and supports her frequent mentions in Lonesome Dove. That said, Comanche Moon would make a fine stand-alone novel.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    Fantastic follow up to Lonesome Dove

    Fantastic follow up to Lonesome Dove. Would give 10 stars if possible.

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  • Posted November 27, 2010

    Is Comanche Moon the same as Horseman, Pass By?

    This is not really a review. But does the Comanche Moon Nookbook have the wrong cover on it? Or is it also called Horseman, Pass By?

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  • Posted December 24, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    What book did you read?

    To the writer of the "This Book Stinks" review I say, if you couldn't get into this book, and were BOARD (learn how to spell and people might take your reviews seriously), you must be dead. This western has it all. Humor, characters, drama, suspense and action. McMurtry is at the top of his game in this prequel to Lonesome Dove. Curl up with this book on a rainy afternoon and you will not want to put it down. Do yourself a favor and don't let one bad reviewer keep you from this wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2008

    epic concluded

    I'm not a big western fan, but I do love this series. It was great to have all of these larger than life figures and have all the loose ends tied up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2007

    this book stinks

    This book is one of the worest i have ever read it made me sleepy and board. The plot has no color.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2003

    Comanche Moon carries the Lonesome Dove proudly

    Comanche Moon is the fourth and supposedly final volume of McMurtry's popular epic western series, Lonesome Dove. However, the book is actually the 2nd volume if you were to read them in chronological order. This novel spans the 20 year timeline between Dead Man's Walk and Lonesome Dove. Streets of Laredo, the fourth volume, finishes the Lonesome Dove tale. McMurtry has an unrivaled ability to tell stories, especially westerns. His attention to detail never fails to wonder, as the reader gets lost in a time and place long forgotten. As usual, McMurtry writes plain and describes with ease, so that even younger readers could follow the story, even though the content might suggest otherwise. The story does feature adult themes, such as extreme violence and sexual situations. Comanche Moon is my favorite Lonesome Dove book after the original. However, I'm not sure this novel stands on it's own without one having read at least Dead Man's Walk first. I suggest reading all these novels in the order the story flows. Start with Dead Man's Walk, then Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove third, and then finish up with Streets of Laredo. This is alot of reading, I know, but if you enjoy westerns, you owe it to yourself to read these books!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    Another fine book from the Lonesome Dove series, marred by poor proofreading

    Although this book works because of the strong characters previously established by McMurtry, it is disheartening to find that the book was so sloppily edited. There are numerous minor proofreading errors that make it abundantly clear that neither McMurtry nor his editor bothered to read the final printer's proof. This makes it difficult not to suspect that McMurtry is just clearing his notebooks of some old material left over from the earlier novels. It's still good reading, but not quite up to the earlier books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2001

    I thought that comanche moon was great

    I give Comanche Moon five stars,because I thought it was great book in the continuationo of the Lonesome Dove series. I liked Comanche Moon,because I liked all of the Lomesome Dove characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2000

    Stupendous way to end a superb series!

    The continued saga of Gus and Call follows them through their ranger days, including their fight with Buffalo Hump and the beginning of their relationship with Blue Duck. A definite must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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