The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

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"Punke's novel opens in 1823, two decades after the trailblazing expedition of Lewis and Clark, when thirty-six-year-old Hugh Glass joins the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. on a venture into perilous, unexplored territory. A seasoned frontiersman, Glass is scouting ahead of the main troop when he is attacked and savagely mauled by a grizzly bear. His wounds are grievous - scalp nearly torn off, back deeply lacerated, throat clawed open - and he is unconscious when his fellow trappers find him. Though they wait for Glass's death, he is still drawing ...
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The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

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"Punke's novel opens in 1823, two decades after the trailblazing expedition of Lewis and Clark, when thirty-six-year-old Hugh Glass joins the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. on a venture into perilous, unexplored territory. A seasoned frontiersman, Glass is scouting ahead of the main troop when he is attacked and savagely mauled by a grizzly bear. His wounds are grievous - scalp nearly torn off, back deeply lacerated, throat clawed open - and he is unconscious when his fellow trappers find him. Though they wait for Glass's death, he is still drawing breath three days later." "Facing hostile territory and the press of winter, the expeditions captain pays two volunteers - John Fitzgerald, a ruthless mercenary, and young Jim Bridger, the future "King of the Moutain Men" - to stay behind and bury Glass when his time comes. But the fidelity of these volunteers proves short-lived." When Indians approach their camp, Fitzgerald and Bridger abandon Glass. Worse yet, they rob the wounded man of his rifle and knife, even his flint and steel - the very things that might have given him a chance on his own. Deserted, defenseless, and furious, Glass vows his survival. And his revenge.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Based on a true incident of heroism in the history of the American West, this debut by a Washington, D.C., international trade attorney and former bureaucrat in the Clinton administration is an almost painfully gripping drama. A Philadelphia-born adventurer, frontiersman Hugh Glass goes to sea at age 16 and enjoys a charmed life, including several years under the flag of the pirate Jean Lafitte and almost a year as a prisoner of the Loup Pawnee Indians on the plains between the Platte and the Arkansas rivers. In 1822, at age 36, Glass escapes, finds his way to St. Louis and enters the employ of Capt. Andrew Henry, trapping along tributaries of the Missouri River. After surviving months of hardship and Indian attack, he falls victim to a grizzly bear. His throat nearly ripped out, scalp hanging loose and deep slashing wounds to his back, shoulder and thigh, Glass appears to be mortally wounded. Initially, Captain Henry refuses to abandon him and has him carried along the Grand River. Unfortunately, the terrain soon makes transporting Glass impossible. Even though his death seems certain, Henry details two men, a fugitive mercenary, John Fitzgerald, and young Jim Bridger (who lived to become a frontier hero) to stand watch and bury him. After several days, Fitzgerald sights hostile Indians. Taking Glass's rifle and tossing Bridger his knife, Fitzgerald flees with Bridget, leaving Glass. Enraged at being left alone and defenseless, Glass survives against all odds and embarks on a 3,000-mile-long vengeful pursuit of his ignominious betrayers. Told in simple expository language, this is a spellbinding tale of heroism and obsessive retribution. Agent, Tina Bennett, Janklow & Nesbitt. (July) Forecast: Punke's novel is already slated to become a Warner Bros. movie, which could mean big sales down the line. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A debut from Washington, D.C., attorney Punke describes the perilous adventures of a 19th-century frontiersman bent on revenge. Hugh Glass apparently anticipated Horace Greeley's advice about going west and growing up with the country, for that is precisely what he did. The son of a Philadelphia bricklayer, Glass became accustomed to living by his wits as a young man and during the War of 1812 made good money as a blockade-runner. Captured by Jean Lafitte's pirates, however, he was faced with the choice of switching sides or walking the plank. He switched. Eventually he fell into the hands of the Spanish, who tossed him ashore south of Galveston and told him to turn north and keep walking. In Missouri, Glass joined an expedition of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and, in the novel, travels inland to trap and trade in what, 20 years after Lewis and Clark, is still largely uncharted territory. After being badly mauled by a grizzly bear, Hugh is left in the care of two comrades, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, who quickly decide that he's a goner and not worth waiting for. They take his rifle and knife and abandon him to die alone. Miraculously, however, Glass not only survives but also manages to get back to St. Louis, even though he has to crawl much of the way. After he recuperates, his one thought is of revenge, and he sets out with all the tenacity of a good trapper to hunt down Fitzgerald and Bridger. Like any frontiersman, Hugh finds that he can't hope to survive, much less succeed, without the help of the Indians, and he soon acquires a knowledge of their ways and lore. Eventually, his former betrayers find themselves face to face with a Revenant-a man come back from the dead. A goodadventure yarn, with plenty of historical atmosphere and local color.
author of the Walt Longmire novels Craig Johnson

The makings of a western classic, Michael Punke's novel The Revenant provides muscle and sinew to the vengeful and epic tale of mountain man, Hugh Glass that even a sow Grizzly couldn't rend asunder.
The Washington Post Book World

A superb revenge story . . . Punke has added considerably to our understanding of human endurance and of the men who pushed west in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark--a significant feat.
The Denver Post

A captivating tale of a singular individual . . . Authenticity is exactly what The Revenant provides, in abundance.
The Salt Lake Tribune

One of the great tales of the nineteenth-century West.
From the Publisher
“The makings of a western classic, Michael Punke’s novel The Revenant provides muscle and sinew to the vengeful and epic tale of mountain man, Hugh Glass that even a sow Grizzly couldn’t rend asunder.”—Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire novels

“A superb revenge story . . . Punke has added considerably to our understanding of human endurance and of the men who pushed west in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark—a significant feat.”—The Washington Post Book World

“A captivating tale of a singular individual . . . Authenticity is exactly what The Revenant provides, in abundance.”—The Denver Post

“One of the great tales of the nineteenth-century West.”—The Salt Lake Tribune

“A gripping and hard-edged tale of survival, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption….Loosely based on true events, Glass’s harrowing journey will keep readers engaged throughout. A must-read for fans of Westerns and frontier fiction and recommended for anyone interested in stories that test the limit of how much the human body and spirit can endure.”—Library Journal

Library Journal
The American West of the 1820s is a harsh and unforgiving place, something that experienced trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass knows all too well. After narrowly surviving an attack by a grizzly bear, Glass is robbed and abandoned by the two men in his company who were charged with watching over him. Left defenseless with life-threatening injuries, Glass channels his need for revenge into a will to live. He survives on his rage, along with his knowledge of edible plants, ingenuity, and a good sense of geography in a largely unmapped land. He encounters trappers, troops, trading-post owners, explorers, and Native Americans, both friendly and antagonistic. Punke, the author of several nonfiction titles (Fire and Brimstone; Last Stand), delivers a gripping and hard-edged tale of survival, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption in his debut novel, first published in 2002 by Carroll & Graf. This volume is a new movie tie-in version. Loosely based on true events, Glass's harrowing journey will keep readers engaged throughout. VERDICT A must-read for fans of Westerns and frontier fiction and recommended for anyone interested in stories that test the limit of how much the human body and spirit can endure. [See Prepub Alert, 9/8/14; a film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy will be released in December 2015.—Ed.].—Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY
The Barnes & Noble Review

Midway through Michael Punke's crackling frontier novel, The Revenant, an ancient figure from a vanished place steps off the page: "Black paint covered the upper half of his face, and he had tied a dead, withered raven behind his right ear." Time stalls and the air stills as a Sioux medicine man approaches a fur trapper disfigured by maggot-infested wounds: wounds inflicted by a grizzly bear so ferocious that the animal seems to have swayed before us a few chapters earlier, its growl " . . . a sound deep like thunder or a falling tree . . . body coiled and taut like the heavy spring on a buckboard." Generously spiced with such thrilling details and encounters, The Revenant tells the story of legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass, mauled by a grizzly and left for dead by treacherous comrades in 1823. "Murdered him, as surely as a knife in the heart or a bullet in the brain," Glass says of his betrayers, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, "Murdered him, except he would not die." Not before he has tracked down the two men, killed them, and retrieved his treasured rifle.

Treachery, survival, revenge. On this reliable frame, Punke constructs a western drama familiar yet fresh, with language as sinewy as Glass himself and taut as a bowstring. "Eleven men hunkered in the camp with no fire," he writes of fur trappers, crouched and watchful, under an embankment on the Grand River in August 1823. Hired by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to harvest beaver pelts in the unchartered waters of the Yellowstone, Missouri, and Platte, they scent further danger. "Misfortune seemed to hang on him like day-old smoke," Glass observes of Captain Andrew Henry, the man fated to command an expedition already decimated by an Arikara Indian attack.

Throughout the novel, Punke fleshes out a few of these characters; the boy Jim Bridger, for example, who imagines the west as " . . . a life in which he never once retraced his steps," the gallant Henry, and the reptilian Fitzgerald. Punke's central drama, however, revolves around Glass's astonishing 350-mile journey — crawling, crippled, and starving — downstream to safety and then upstream for vengeance. Competing with a wolf pack for a buffalo, facing down a rattlesnake, falling into the hands of the Sioux, he nurtures his hatred and stays his course. Punke, too, avoids detours and digressions. As Glass tracks his human prey, their paths crossing, diverging, and finally meeting, Henry's expedition struggles upriver, and the novel's tension, strung between these parallel lines, is expertly sustained.

Grace and mystery reside in the land and in its first people, both economically yet movingly described. "In his tightly braided hair he wore three eagle feathers, notched to signify enemies killed in battle," Glass observes of an approaching Sioux brave. "Two decorative bands ran down the doeskin tunic . . . hundreds of interwoven porcupine quills dyed brilliantly in vermillion and indigo." If all of this — the voyageurs, the showdowns, the whizzing bullets — consigns Punke's novel to what Mark Twain derided as "the snapped twig school of realism," so be it. The Revenant is certainly not Guy Vanderhaege's The Last Crossing or Charles Portis's True Grit. But who could forget that grizzly?

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786711895
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/25/2003
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Punke serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also served on the White House National Security Council staff and on Capitol Hill. He was formerly the history correspondent for Montana Quarterly, and an adjunct professor at the University of Montana. He is the author of Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mine Disaster of 1917, and Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West. His family home is in Montana.
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Read an Excerpt

The Revenant

A Novel of Revenge

By Michael Punke


Copyright © 2002 Michael Punke
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-06663-3


AUGUST 21, 1823

"MY KEELBOAT FROM ST. LOUIS is due here any day, Monsieur Ashley." The portly Frenchman explained it again in his patient but insistent tone. "I'll gladly sell the Rocky Mountain Fur Company the entire contents of the boat—but I can't sell you what I don't have."

William H. Ashley slammed his tin cup on the crude slats of the table. The carefully groomed gray of his beard did not conceal the tight clench of his jaw. For its part, the clenched jaw seemed unlikely to contain another outburst, as Ashley found himself confronting again the one thing he despised above all else—waiting.

The Frenchman, with the unlikely name of Kiowa Brazeau, watched Ashley with growing trepidation. Ashley's presence at Kiowa's remote trading post presented a rare opportunity, and Kiowa knew that the successful management of this relationship could lay a permanent foundation for his venture. Ashley was a prominent man in St. Louis business and politics, a man with both the vision to bring commerce to the West and the money to make it happen. "Other people's money," as Ashley had called it. Skittish money. Nervous money. Money that would flee easily from one speculative venture to the next.

Kiowa squinted behind his thick spectacles, and though his vision was not sharp, he had a keen eye for reading people. "If you will indulge me, Monsieur Ashley, perhaps I can offer one consolation while we await my boat."

Ashley offered no affirmative acknowledgment, but neither did he renew his tirade.

"I need to requisition more provisions from St. Louis," said Kiowa. "I'll send a courier downstream tomorrow by canoe. He can carry a dispatch from you to your syndicate. You can reassure them before rumors about Colonel Leavenworth's debacle take root."

Ashley sighed deeply and took a long sip of the sour ale, resigned, through lack of alternative, to endure this latest delay. Like it or not, the Frenchman's advice was sound. He needed to reassure his investors before news of the battle ran unchecked through the streets of St. Louis.

Kiowa sensed his opening and moved quickly to keep Ashley on a productive course. The Frenchman produced a quill, ink, and parchment, arranging them in front of Ashley and refilling the tin cup with ale. "I'll leave you to your work, monsieur," he said, happy for the opportunity to retreat.

By the dim light of a tallow candle, Ashley wrote deep into the night:

Fort Brazeau,
On the Missouri
August 21, 1823

James D. Pickens, Esquire
Pickens and Sons
St. Louis

Dear Mr. Pickens,

It is my unfortunate responsibility to inform you of the events of the past two weeks. By their nature these events must alter—though not deter—our venture on the Upper Missouri.

As you probably know by now, the men of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company were attacked by the Arikara after trading in good faith for sixty horses. The Arikara attacked without provocation, killing 16 of our men, wounding a dozen, & stealing back the horses they had feigned to sell to us the day before.

In face of this attack, I was forced to retreat downstream, while at the same time requesting the aid of Colonel Leavenworth & the US Army in responding to this clear affront to the sovereign right of US citizens to traverse the Missouri unimpeded. I also requested the support of our own men, who joined me (led by Capt. Andrew Henry) at great peril, from their position at Fort Union.

By August 9th, we confronted the Arikara with a combined force of 700 men, including 200 of Leavenworth's regulars (with two howitzers) and forty men of the RMF Co. We also found allies (albeit temporary) in 400 Sioux warriors, whose enmity for the Arikara stems from historical grudge, the origin of which I do not know.

Suffice it to say that our assembled forces were more than ample to carry the field, punish the Arikara for their treachery, & reopen the Missouri for our venture. That such results did not occur we owe to the unsteady timber of Colonel Leavenworth.

The details of the inglorious encounter can await my return to St. Louis, but suffice it to say that the Colonel's repeated reluctance to engage in an inferior foe allowed the entire Arikara tribe to slip our grasp, the result being the effective closure of the Missouri between Fort Brazeau & the Mandan villages. Somewhere between here and there are 900 Arikara warriors, newly entrenched, no doubt, & with new motive to foil all attempts up the Missouri.

Colonel Leavenworth has returned to garrison at Fort Atkinson, where he no doubt will pass the winter in front of a warm hearth, carefully mulling his options. I do not intend to wait for him. Our venture, as you know, can ill-afford the loss of eight months.

Ashley stopped to read his text, unhappy with its dour tone. The letter reflected his anger, but did not convey his predominant emotion—a bedrock optimism, an unwavering faith in his own ability to succeed. God had placed him in a garden of infinite bounty, a Land of Goshen in which any man could prosper if only he had the courage and the fortitude to try. Ashley's weaknesses, which he confessed forthrightly, were simply barriers to be overcome by some creative combination of his strengths. Ashley expected setbacks, but he would not tolerate failure.

We must turn this misfortune to our benefit, press on while our competitors take pause. With the Missouri effectively closed, I have decided to send two groups West by alternate route. Captain Henry I have already dispatched up the Grand River. He will ascend the Grand as far as possible and make his way back to Fort Union. Jedidiah Smith will lead a second troop up the Platte, his target the waters of the Great Basin.

You no doubt share my intense frustration at our delay. We must now move boldly to recapture lost time. I have instructed Henry and Smith that they shall not return to St. Louis with their harvest in the Spring. Rather, we shall go to them—rendezvous in the field to exchange their furs for fresh supplies. We can save four months this way, & repay at least some portion of our debt to the clock. Meanwhile, I propose a new fur troop be raised in St. Louis & dispatched in the Spring, led by me personally.

The remnants of the candle sputtered and spit foul black smoke. Ashley looked up, suddenly aware of the hour, of his deep fatigue. He dipped the quill and returned to his correspondence, writing firmly and quickly now as he drew his report to its conclusion:

I urge you to communicate to our syndicate—in strongest possible terms—my complete confidence in the inevitable success of our endeavor. A great bounty has been laid by Providence before us, & we must not fail to summon the courage to claim our rightful share.

Your Very Humble Servant, William H. Ashley

Two days later, August 16, 1823, Kiowa Brazeau's keelboat arrived from St. Louis. William Ashley provisioned his men and sent them west on the same day. The first rendezvous was set for the summer of 1824, the location to be communicated through couriers.

Without understanding fully the significance of his decisions, William H. Ashley had invented the system that would define the era.


AUGUST 23, 1823

ELEVEN MEN HUNKERED in the camp with no fire. The camp took advantage of a slight embankment on the Grand River, but the plain afforded little contour to conceal their position. A fire would have signaled their presence for miles, and stealth was the trappers' best ally against another attack. Most of the men used the last hour of daylight to clean rifles, repair moccasins, or eat. The boy had been asleep from the moment they stopped, a crumpled tangle of long limbs and ill-shod clothing.

The men fell into clusters of three or four, huddled against the bank or pressed against a rock or clump of sage, as if these minor protusions might offer protection.

The usual banter of camp had been dampened by the calamity on the Missouri, and then extinguished altogether by the second attack only three nights before. When they spoke at all they spoke in hushed and pensive tones, respectful of the comrades who lay dead in their trail, heedful of the dangers still before them.

"Do you think he suffered, Hugh? I can't get it out of my head that he was suffering away, all that time."

Hugh Glass looked up at the man, William Anderson, who had posed the question. Glass thought for a while before he answered, "I don't think your brother suffered."

"He was the oldest. When we left Kentucky, our folks told him to look after me. Didn't say a word to me. Wouldn't have occurred to them."

"You did your best for your brother, Will. It's a hard truth, but he was dead when that ball hit him three days ago."

A new voice spoke from the shadows near the bank. "Wish we'd have buried him then, instead of dragging him for two days." The speaker perched on his haunches, and in the growing darkness his face showed little feature except a dark beard and a white scar. The scar started near the corner of his mouth and curved down and around like a fishhook. Its prominence was magnified by the fact that no hair grew on the tissue, cutting a permanent sneer through his beard. His right hand worked the stout blade of a skinning knife over a whetstone as he spoke, mixing his words with a slow, rasping scrape.

"Keep your mouth shut, Fitzgerald, or I swear on my brother's grave I'll rip out your bloody tongue."

"Your brother's grave? Not much of a grave now, was it?"

The men within earshot paid sudden attention, surprised at this conduct, even from Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald felt the attention, and it encouraged him. "More just a pile of rocks. You think he's still in there, moldering away?" Fitzgerald paused for a moment, so that the only sound was the scraping of the blade on the stone. "I doubt it—speaking for myself." Again he waited, calibrating the effect of his words as he spoke them. "Course, could be the rocks kept the varmints off. But I think the coyotes are dragging little bits of him across ..."

Anderson lunged at Fitzgerald with both hands extended.

Fitzgerald brought his leg up sharply as he rose to meet the attack, his shin catching Anderson full-force in the groin. The kick folded Anderson in two, as if some hidden cord drew his neck to his knees. Fitzgerald drove his knee into the helpless man's face and Anderson flipped backward.

Fitzgerald moved spryly for someone his size, pouncing to pin his knee against the chest of the gasping, bleeding man. He put the skinning knife to Anderson's throat. "You want to go join your brother?" Fitzgerald pressed the knife so that the blade drew a thin line of blood.

"Fitzgerald," Glass said in an even but authoritative tone. "That's enough."

Fitzgerald looked up. He contemplated an answer to Glass's challenge, while noting with satisfaction the ring of men that now surrounded him, witnesses to Anderson's pathetic position. Better to claim victory, he decided. He'd see to Glass another day. Fitzgerald removed the blade from Anderson's throat and rammed the knife into the beaded sheath on his belt. "Don't start things you can't finish, Anderson. Next time I'll finish it for you."

Captain Andrew Henry pushed his way through the circle of spectators. He grabbed Fitzgerald from behind and ripped him backward, pushing him hard into the embankment. "One more fight and you're out, Fitzgerald." Henry pointed beyond the perimeter of the camp to the distant horizon. "If you've got an extra store of piss you can go try making it on your own."

The captain looked around him at the rest of the men. "We'll cover forty miles tomorrow. You're wasting time if you're not asleep already. Now, who's taking first watch?" No one stepped forward. Henry's eyes came to rest on the boy, oblivious to the commotion. Henry took a handful of determined steps to the crumpled form. "Get up, Bridger."

The boy sprang up, wide-eyed as he grasped, bewildered, for his gun. The rusted trading musket had been an advance on his salary, along with a yellowed powder horn and a handful of flints.

"I want you a hundred yards downstream. Find a high spot along the bank. Pig, the same thing upstream. Fitzgerald, Anderson—you'll take the second watch."

Fitzgerald had stood watch the night before. For a moment it appeared he would protest the distribution of labor. He thought better of it, sulking instead to the edge of the camp. The boy, still disoriented, half stumbled across the rocks that spilled along the river's edge, disappearing into the cobalt blackness that encroached on the brigade.

The man they called "Pig" was born Phineous Gilmore on a dirt-poor farm in Kentucky. No mystery surrounded his nickname: he was enormous and he was filthy. Pig smelled so bad it confused people. When they encountered his reek, they looked around him for the source, so implausible did it seem that the odor could emanate from a human. Even the trappers, who placed no particular premium on cleanliness, did their best to keep Pig downwind. After hoisting himself slowly to his feet, Pig slung his rifle over his shoulder and ambled upstream.

Less than an hour passed before the daylight receded completely. Glass watched as Captain Henry returned from a nervous check of the sentries. He picked his way by moonlight among the sleeping men, and Glass realized that he and Henry were the only men awake. The captain chose the ground next to Glass, leaning against his rifle as he eased his large frame to the ground. Repose took the weight off his tired feet, but failed to relieve the pressure he felt most heavily.

"I want you and Black Harris to scout tomorrow," said Captain Henry. Glass looked up, disappointed that he could not respond to the beckoning call of sleep.

"Find something to shoot in late afternoon. We'll risk a fire." Henry lowered his voice, as if making a confession. "We're way behind, Hugh." Henry gave every indication that he intended to talk for a while. Glass reached for his rifle. If he couldn't sleep, he might as well tend his weapon. He had doused it in a river crossing that afternoon and wanted to apply fresh grease to the trigger works.

"Cold'll set in hard by early December," continued the captain. "We'll need two weeks to lay in a supply of meat. If we're not on the Yellowstone before October we'll have no fall hunt."

If Captain Henry was racked by internal doubt, his commanding physical presence betrayed no infirmity. The band of leather fringe on his deerskin tunic cut a swath across his broad shoulders and chest, remnants of his former profession as a lead miner in the Saint Genevieve district of Missouri. He was narrow at the waist, where a thick leather belt held a brace of pistols and a large knife. His breeches were doeskin to the knee, and from there down red wool. The captain's pants had been specially tailored in St. Louis and were a badge of his wilderness experience. Leather provided excellent protection, but wading made it heavy and cold. Wool, by contrast, dried quickly and retained heat even when wet.

If the brigade he led was motley, Henry at least drew satisfaction from the fact they called him "captain." In truth, of course, Henry knew the title was an artifice. His band of trappers had nothing to do with the military, and scant respect for any institution. Still, Henry was the only man among them to have trod and trapped the Three Forks. If title meant little, experience was the coin of the realm.

The captain paused, waiting for acknowledgment from Glass. Glass looked up from his rifle. It was a brief look, because he had unscrewed the elegantly scrolled guard that covered the rifle's twin triggers. He cupped the two screws carefully in his hand, afraid of dropping them in the dark.

The glance sufficed, enough to encourage Henry to continue. "Did I ever tell you about Drouillard?"

"No, Captain."

"You know who he was?"

"George Drouillard—Corps of Discovery?"

Henry nodded his head. "Lewis and Clark man, one of their best—a scout and a hunter. In 1809 he signed up with a group I led—he led, really—to the Three Forks. We had a hundred men, but Drouillard and Colter was the only ones who'd ever been there.

"We found beaver thick as mosquitoes. Barely had to trap 'em—could go out with a club. But we ran into trouble with the Blackfeet from the start. Five men killed before two weeks was up. We had to fort up, couldn't send out trapping parties.

"Drouillard holed up there with the rest of us for about a week before he said he was tired of sitting still. He went out the next day and came back a week later with twenty plews."

Glass paid the captain his full attention. Every citizen of St. Louis knew some version of Drouillard's story, but Glass had never heard a first-person account.

"He did that twice, went out and came back with a pack of plews. Last thing he said before he left the third time was, 'Third time's charmed.' He rode off and we heard two gunshots about half an hour later—one from his rifle and one from his pistol. Second shot must have been him shooting his horse, trying to make a barrier. That's where we found him behind his horse. There must have been twenty arrows between him and the horse. Blackfeet left the arrows in, wanted to send us a message. They hacked him up, too—cut off his head."

The captain paused again, scraping at the dirt in front of him with a pointed stick. "I keep thinking about him."

Glass searched for words of reassurance. Before he could say anything the captain asked, "How long do you figure this river's gonna keep running west?"


Excerpted from The Revenant by Michael Punke. Copyright © 2002 Michael Punke. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
September 1, 1823,
Part One,
1. August 21, 1823,
2. August 23, 1823,
3. August 24, 1823,
4. August 28, 1823,
5. August 30, 1823,
6. August 31, 1823,
7. September 2, 1823—Morning,
8. September 2, 1823—Afternoon,
9. September 8, 1823,
10. September 15, 1823,
11. September 16, 1823,
12. September 17, 1823,
13. October 5, 1823,
14. October 6, 1823,
15. October 9, 1823,
Part Two,
16. November 29, 1823,
17. December 5, 1823,
18. December 6, 1823,
19. December 8, 1823,
20. December 15, 1823,
21. December 31, 1823,
22. February 27, 1824,
23. March 6, 1824,
24. March 7, 1824,
25. March 28, 1824,
26. April 14, 1824,
27. April 28, 1824,
28. May 7, 1824,
Historical Note,
Key Sources,
Also by Michael Punke,
About the Author,

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 19, 2015

    I received this book, an Advanced Readers copy and a Goodreads G

    I received this book, an Advanced Readers copy and a Goodreads Giveaway, from Picador USA.  Thank you for allowing me the privilege of reading this excellent book.  I am already very impressed with both story and characters. 

    I found this novel one you cannot put down. I have a vague recollection of hearing of the trials and tribulations of Mr. Glass in the far away long ago, but this book is not something I will forget.  Excellently written, the beauty of the country shines through, as does the joy and hardships of living and traveling in the 1820's frontier of the Missouri River basin. The character of Hugh Glass is obvious, as is the humanity lacking in the bad guys.  And I felt the ending very appropriate.  Give this a read, please.  You will not be disappointed.  It is a book I will add to my keepers, to read again.  And I will see the movie, though I don't often bother when the book is this good. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2005

    Great book for anyone to enjoy

    Michael Punke's debut book was outstanding!! It was filled with suspense. Through the use of vivid detail, you can actually feel as if you are standing right next to Hugh Glass. You can also feel as if you are actually meeting the people that Hugh meets. You never want to put this book down! The things that happens to Hugh as he tries to get back to his group, makes you want to keep on reading and never put this book down!! The chapters in this book are dates. Michael Punke ends the chapters with cliffhangers, so that you want to continue to read and find out the fate of Hugh Glass. This book is perfect for anyone and everyone! Michael Punke did such an excellent job on this book, that I will read anything else that he writes!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2015

    This is a 'got to read'

    This story of revenge is one of the most engaging I've ever read. The subject is left to die a horrifying death and not only manages to survive (thanks to a youngster who is mistaken for doing the evil)but travels downriver to resupply and come back in the middle of a Midwestern winter to extract vengeance. I won't give away the story or ending but will say that the end is a tad surprising and satisfying.

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  • Posted February 13, 2015

    Great read!

    I have never read a book of this genre. But when I read the review, the story line intrigued. Without saying too much about the story, it is based on true fact. Main character Hugh Glass did really exist and he was mauled by a bear and left to die. "Revenant" - the definition is someone who returns from the dead.
    The story is very well written. Thoroughly enjoyable. And a grat read.

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  • Posted February 6, 2015

    Good, but generic tale of revenge during the early days of western exploration.

    While I found Michal Punke's Revenant entertaining. I was very disappointed in the lack of development for characters as well the intricasies of the story line. I would have loved to hear more of the back story of the wild and varied crew members that traveled up stream with Glass.  Life in the forts and trading posts could easily have been expanded upon.  But my biggest disappointment was with the story's denouement that I found very anti-climatic and hurried

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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