The Baron War: The Continuing Saga of One Family's Struggle

The Baron War: The Continuing Saga of One Family's Struggle

by Jory Sherman
     
 

In an eerie preview to the Civil War, the Rio Grande Valley girds itself for battle as Martin Baron, head of the Baron family empire, struggles against greedy Matteo Aguilar, who threatens everything that Martin has built for himself.

When Aguilar sends his vaqueros and assassins to take the Barons down, he starts a bloody war that won’t stop until one of

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Overview

In an eerie preview to the Civil War, the Rio Grande Valley girds itself for battle as Martin Baron, head of the Baron family empire, struggles against greedy Matteo Aguilar, who threatens everything that Martin has built for himself.

When Aguilar sends his vaqueros and assassins to take the Barons down, he starts a bloody war that won’t stop until one of them is dead. As the treachery continues to escalate, the Barons find themselves in a life-or-death-struggle that will change an entire family and an entire region forever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Spur Award winner Sherman explores character relationships in true family saga style.”—Publishers Weekly

“Fans of this series won’t be disappointed.”—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the lawless Texas landscape, this latest installment in Sherman's Baron series (after The Baron Brand) reaches a watershed on the eve of the Civil War. Grieving the shameful death of his wife, Caroline, estranged patriarch Martin Baron must mend fences with his son, Anson the new owner of the family's Box B Ranch in order to face a deadly threat from a fractious neighbor, Matteo Aguilar. Martin bought the Box B land from Aguilar's family, and Matteo is determined to take it back by force; the feud intensifies as Martin discovers his wife's death is linked to Aguilar family actions. Ruthless opportunist Jules Reynaud, still smarting from Martin's breakup of an illegal slave deal, joins forces with Matteo, while an Apache Indian and former Box B hand, Mickey Bone, equivocates. A boyhood mentor for Anson, Bone has returned from exile with a new wife and baby, but he is not sure where his loyalties lie. Martin gets support from other locals, from a lone Texas Ranger trying to recruit him and from neighbor Roy Killian, who is desperately trying to escape the romantic intentions of wealthy Wanda Fancher, her nagging mother, his own mother and her new husband, all of whom now fill his small ranch house. Spur Award-winner Sherman explores character relationships in true family saga style, then leads the frontier folk into an inevitable, bloody shoot-'em-up, leaving loose ends for future installments to tie up. Strong female characters and plenty of romance could help this title bridge the western gender gap. Agent, Peter Matson. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in the lawless Texas landscape, this latest installment in Sherman's Baron series (after The Baron Brand) reaches a watershed on the eve of the Civil War. Grieving the shameful death of his wife, Caroline, estranged patriarch Martin Baron must mend fences with his son, Anson the new owner of the family's Box B Ranch in order to face a deadly threat from a fractious neighbor, Matteo Aguilar. Martin bought the Box B land from Aguilar's family, and Matteo is determined to take it back by force; the feud intensifies as Martin discovers his wife's death is linked to Aguilar family actions. Ruthless opportunist Jules Reynaud, still smarting from Martin's breakup of an illegal slave deal, joins forces with Matteo, while an Apache Indian and former Box B hand, Mickey Bone, equivocates. A boyhood mentor for Anson, Bone has returned from exile with a new wife and baby, but he is not sure where his loyalties lie. Martin gets support from other locals, from a lone Texas Ranger trying to recruit him and from neighbor Roy Killian, who is desperately trying to escape the romantic intentions of wealthy Wanda Fancher, her nagging mother, his own mother and her new husband, all of whom now fill his small ranch house. Spur Award-winner Sherman explores character relationships in true family saga style, then leads the frontier folk into an inevitable, bloody shoot-'em-up, leaving loose ends for future installments to tie up. Strong female characters and plenty of romance could help this title bridge the western gender gap. Agent, Peter Matson. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The fourth in Sherman's novels about the Barons of Texas (Grass Kingdom, not reviewed, etc.), with the Civil War as a backdrop. As always, what's most important to the cattle ranchers is land, and, here, Aaron and Martin Baron of the Box B ranch are pitted against a traditional Mexican bad guy, Matteo Aguilar of the Rocking A ranch, and his militia of Yankee, Mexican, and Indian hired guns. Battles, personal quarrels, family squabbles, split loyalties, and romance add enough action to keep the tale moving along at a satisfying pace, and, this time out, Sherman addresses the issue of slavery (he's against it). Fans of the series won't be disappointed if they're looking for more of the same.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765302557
Publisher:
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
01/12/2002
Series:
Barons Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Baron War

By Jory Sherman

Tor Books

Copyright © 2002 Jory Sherman.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0765302551



Chapter One


Mickey Bone, the homeless Lipan Apache, the wanderer of the wild lands of Texas and Mexico, came upon the ancient stone by accident. He had walked away from the little camp he had made in the brasada, that thick jungle of mesquite and sand and black loam, to relieve himself, when he looked down and saw it lying half-buried and caught between the trunks of two mesquite trees. It was obvious that the roots of the trees had turned the stone up, for it was tilted on its side, the top leaning against one tree, the bottom jammed at an angle next to the other. A thin shaft of sunlight, stabbing through the leaves of a tree, illuminated the stone as if it were a holy object set upon some primitive altar.

He stared at the stone intently as he sprayed the ground with his urine, listening to the whispering sound of the spattering piss, wondering if he was not hearing the voices of the ancient ones Dream Speaker had told him about more than a week before he had crossed the Rio Grande back into Texas.

When he was finished, he buttoned his fly and bent down to pick up the stone. He had to pull and wrench it from between the two trees and he nearly fell over backward when it came loose. He had seen the odd markings on it, but now he brushed the dirt and moss away from the flat surface and watched the glyphs appear as if by magic. He did not understand the writing, the symbols, but he knew they were old, the way he knew the mountains of Mexico were old and the earth itself was old.

He rubbed and rubbed until all the petroglyphs stood out in stark relief. There were circles within circles, spirals, and strange little stick figures with big round eyes and grinning mouths. There, too, were depictions of stars and round things that had radiating lines encircling them, and a crescent moon among these globes. One of the globes had wings attached to it, feathered wings that were neatly cut into the stone. Next to this was a cross that seemed to vibrate, for its outlines were traced, not once, but three times as if it were a living thing, growing out of the rock.

The stone was not heavy, and the writing was only on one side. Excited with his find, Bone carried the rune back to his overnight camp to show it to his wife, Dawn. As he walked through the thick mesquite jungle, he rubbed the glyphs with the tip of his finger as if to touch the hand of the person who had inscribed the symbols on the stone.

Dawn sat outside one of the old adobe huts that early settlers had constructed and abandoned to nature. She held the baby to her breast, a fold of her open dress over Juan's head to keep the sun out of his eyes. She crooned to the child and rocked back and forth to put him to sleep.

Bone approached and squatted next to her. He lay the stone on the ground, face up, so that they both could see it. He studied the symbols for a moment, wiped away a small clod of dirt lodged in one of the etched grooves.

"What is that?" Dawn asked.

"It is an old stone. Left here by the ancient ones."

"How do you know that?"

"Look at the markings on it."

"Scratches."

"No, look at them. They mean something."

"Do you know what they mean?"

"No."

"Then what good is it?"

"It reminds me of what Dream Speaker told me. He said that the days of the redman are numbered on this earth. He said there had been many tribes here before us and they have all disappeared."

"I do not like such talk."

"This rock is proof that what Dream Speaker said to me is true."

"Who are these tribes?"

"I do not know. Dream Speaker does not know. They were here and now they are gone. This is all they left behind."

Dawn sucked air through her teeth three times to show her disbelief.

Bone picked up the rune, handed it to Dawn. She drew back away from it as if it were an untouchable thing.

"It will not hurt you."

"I do not want it near me."

"I am going to keep it."

"Miguel, you are loco."

He rubbed the face of the stone gently as if commanding it to give up its secrets. He stared at it, tilted it several ways so that the sun struck it at different angles. Dawn turned her face away so that she would not have to look at it.

"When I was carrying this stone back here, I was thinking of what Dream Speaker said and those things I thought while we were riding here. We are not far from Matteo's now."

"I do not like Matteo Aguilar."

"I was thinking that we no longer have a home. We do not have a people. You are Yaqui. I am Lipan Apache. Soon, I think, we will be like those old ones Dream Speaker told me about. We will just disappear and we will never be seen again."

"Do not talk this way, Miguel."

"It was what I was thinking."

"I do not think of my people anymore."

"No, because they are gone. They are lost to you, forever. And, my people are lost to me."

"What about little Juan?"

"He is of another tribe now. He is of mixed blood."

"So, your blood and my blood is now his blood and he will make his own tribe one day."

Bone shook his head. "I do not know. Dream Speaker said nothing of this."

"Well, he is an old man. An old bitter man who has seen too much of life and now sees his own death."

Juan was asleep. He had stopped suckling and turned his face away from his mother's breast. Dawn looked down at him, touched one closed eyelid to make sure. Her touch was light as a down feather. The baby did not stir.

"Blood," Bone said.

"What?"

"Maybe the blood of the old ones is in us, as well. Maybe Dream Speaker was wrong. Maybe the people did not go away, but took their blood to other tribes, bigger, stronger ones. So they disappeared."

"Or they did not disappear," Dawn said.

Bone lay the rock back down between his moccasined feet. He wished he knew what the markings meant. Someone had left a message for him, or for another person, to find. He was sure that whatever was written on the stone was important. It had taken a long time to cut the lines. Perhaps the inscriber had used an antler tip or a piece of hard flint. It was something that was done with care and took a long time.

"Why do you take me to the ranch of Matteo?" Dawn asked.

"I have given this much thought, my woman. We have no home. We have no people. Matteo has said that I will always have a home with him. Our son needs a place where he can grow tall and strong."

"Matteo is Mexican. He is not Apache. He is not Yaqui."

"It is said he has Yaqui blood."

"Who says this?"

"I think his uncle or father told me."

"He killed all of his family."

"Then he has Yaqui blood. Or maybe Apache blood."

"You are loco, Miguel."

"You and Juan will be safe there. It is a big ranch. The biggest ranch in Texas, maybe."

"I will go where you go, my husband. But I do not like this Matteo."

"He gives us money. Did the Lipan give you money?"

"I do not want to talk about this. I am here. I will go with you."

"Good. We will be there before the sun sets this day."

"Take Juan. I will get on the horse, then you will give him to me." He watched her as she caught up her barebacked horse and climbed on it. She was as lean and lithe as a panther. He liked the way she moved. He got up and walked over to her horse and handed her the sleeping baby. She took the child in her arms and nestled him against her exposed breast. Bone wanted her just then, but he knew this was not the time.

He went back and picked up the stone, and stuck it inside his shirt. It was flat and did not weigh much. Then, he went to his horse and lifted himself up in the saddle.

"Watch out for the mesquite," he said to Dawn. "It is very thick here in the brasada."

"I have been here before," she said.

They rode out of the brasada and were on Rocking A land. Bone looked up at the blue sky and the thin drifts of clouds that floated on the high winds. He patted the stone inside his shirt. Surely, he thought, the stone would bring him the good luck now that he was coming back to work for Matteo Aguilar.

And Dream Speaker had told him he would not have to kill Martin Baron, or his son, Anson, owners of the Box B Ranch which bordered Aguilar's Rocking A. Perhaps that Frenchman from New Orleans, Jules Reynaud, had already killed Martin, as he bragged he would. Perhaps, Reynaud would be gone from Matteo's ranch by now. Maybe he had killed both Martin and his son, Anson. Bone hoped that was so. Matteo had asked him to help Reynaud kill the Barons, but he told Matteo he would not help Reynaud. But he did not tell Matteo why he would not help Reynaud. Bone would not like to kill them very much, for they had once been friends before Bone had taken Martin's wife Caroline one day when she was near him. And he still did not know if she had been the one to go after him or if they had just come together in a natural way. It did not matter. He had his own woman now and did not need the forbidden loins of another man's wife.


Excerpted from The Baron War by Jory Sherman. Copyright © 2002 by Jory Sherman. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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