Book One and name sake of the sweeping #1 bestselling Threads West, An American Saga epic sagawinner of twenty-eight National Literary Awards in numerous categories including Historical Fiction, Multi-Cultural, Romance and Western. This novel and the ensuing books of this monumental multi-era epic saga are compared by reviewers and authors to Lonesome Dove, Centennial, and the Sacketts of Louis L'Amour. Called by some reviewers, ''The Gone With The Wind of the West.'' Applauded by others as ''rings true and poignant, as authentic and moving as Dances with Wolves” and “the Sacketts on steroids,” the tale bursts with the adventure, romance and promise of historical America, the American spirit and the West. You will recognize the characters who live in these pages. They are the ancestors of your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your family. They are you. They are us. We are all Americans. This is not only their story. It is our story. The epic saga of Threads West begins in May 1854 with the first of five, richly textured, complex generations of unforgettable, multicultural characters ensconced in their individual lives and dreams in the Rockies, England, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Prussia, Mexico, the Great Plains, St. Louis and New York. They share neither country nor culture in common—indeed none of them know the others exist—but the separate lives of these driven men and independent women from Europe and North America will be drawn to a common destiny that beckons seductively from the wild and remote flanks of the American West. Five thousand miles across the Atlantic from the villages and cities of Europe, and one thousand miles to the west of St. Louis, lies the lawless, untamed spine of the continent, the Rocky Mountains. Their energy draws this vanguard of generations into the dangerous currents of the far-distant frontier. Swept by the mysterious rivers of fate, the power of the land and America’s promise, their journeys are turbulent quests intertwined with courage and cowardice, romance and adversity, passions and pathos, despair and triumph. Their destinies and those of their offspring will be dramatically altered by events and history they cannot foresee and others of uncommon cultures and differing origins they cannot imagine. The personal conflicts inherent to these brave, passion-filled characters are exacerbated by a nation in transition, the budding enmity between North and South, broken treaties with Native Americans and lives and generations woven on the loom of history, propelled by fate and freedom to form the tapestry that becomes the whole cloth of the nation. The touchstones of the past are the guideposts to the future. This, the first novel of this epic sagathe tale of America, set in the West—is the stirring story of many life threads of divergent cultures, and competing ambitions that entwine to become what the world knows as, Americans. In the following books of the saga, the heroic but conflicted men and women of Threads West continue their dangerous journeys, their layered personalities forged on the anvil of the land, their paths intersecting with the trails of others, melding the American mosaic, setting in motion the weave of the American fabric, and generational liaisons impossible to envision. Momentous change will continue, igniting further greed and compassion, courage and treachery, rugged independence, torrid passions and fierce loyalties. The decades of the Maps of Fate era (1854-1875) novels of Threads West, An American Saga epic saga are the crucible of the souls of generations, the building of the heart of the nation, and the destiny of a people at a magical moment in the American history. You will enjoy our story—because it is your story.
About the Author
Reid is fourth generation land and cattle, a rancher, and a multiple #1 bestselling author whose works have been honored with twenty national awards. His cowboy heart and poet's pen capture the spirit of the western landscape and its influence on generations of its settlers. His long-standing devotion to wild and remote places and to the peopleboth past and presentwho leave their legend and footprint upon America and the American West, is the inspiration and descriptive underpinning of all of his writing. "If your mind and spirit are seduced by images of windswept ridge tops, flutters of aspen leaves caressed by a canyon breeze and the crimson tendrils of dying sun...if your fingers feel the silken pulse of a lover and your lips taste the deep kisses of building desire...if nostrils flare with the conjured scents of gunpowder and perfume, sage brush and pine, and your ears delight in the murmur of river current...if your heart pounds at the clash of good and evil and with each twist and turn of interwoven lives you feel a primal throb, then I have accomplished my mission."~Reid Lance Rosenthal Passion fuels each thrilling, history, action and romance-packed novel in this widely acclaimed five-generation epic series of the historical and contemporary American west. Threads West has been compared to L'Amour, and Centennial, and some call the series, the "Gone With The Wind of the West."
Read an Excerpt
May 3, 1854
Three hundred miles southwest of the undulating expanse of the Great Plains and the tiny settlement of Cherry Creek, a small creek rushed and gurgled, feeding a series of beaver ponds along the edge of a large grove of aspens, alders and willows. The glitters of the water sifting through the pond's edge of willows and alders formed points of bright light where they reflected off the white bark of quaking aspen saplings surrounding Zeb and the stock. Overhead, puffy patches of clouds flitted across the face of the sun scuttling in hurried billows through a deep blue sky to some unknown rendezvous to the east.
The sleek, mottled brown and white silhouettes of the mustang, its thin buckskin-clad rider and the stocky, gray forms of the pack mules strung behind the horse were motionless, almost invisible deep in the heart of the patch of quaking aspen. A .52 caliber breech loading Sharps rifle lay across the rider's thighs, cradled between his belt and the saddle horn. Diffused light filtered through the needles of the few conifers interspersed with the ghostly leafless branches of the aspen trees and added to the camouflage of the little band.
Zebarriah Taylor or Zeb, as he preferred to be called, sat erect, perfectly still and keenly observant. One weathered hand slowly stroking a long strand of his thick, unkempt mustache where it tapered off into the graying stubble just above his chin, his eyes probed in every direction and he listened intently. Quiet. A bit too quiet.
Slowly craning his neck, he looked back at the three pack mules, each of them burdened with a large bundle of pelts balanced and cinched between the wooden crossbars of the pack saddle frames. Shiny layers of fur protruded on all edges from under the oiled leathers lashed with rawhide over the top of each mound as a protective tarp. The mules stood complacently, though their ears were up. The attention of the mustang was pricked also, and the horse stood like a statue, nose pointed toward the riffled sparkles that bounced off the surface of the several beaver ponds.
Zeb checked the cartridge in the Sharps and then pulled each of the brace of cap and ball pistols from his waistband; tucking them back when he was satisfied they, too, were ready. Leaning far to his left, he pulled the .58 caliber Enfield musket from its belly scabbard, eyeing the flash pan. He left it partially unsheathed, just in case. A split second could be life or death. He carefully swung his left leg over the saddle horn and the horse's neck until he was sidesaddle. Patting the horse's shoulder, he spoke in a whisper, "Easy, Buck, last two traps of the spring season. We made it through the winter — no sense getting' kilt now."
Slipping off the saddle, he landed lightly on the silent carpet of fallen leaves, brown from the previous autumn and damp from the winter's snowpack. There were still patches of old snow where shade had lingered. Alternating spring-day sun and frozen nights had solidified the once white flakes into little kernels, like frozen corn. This time of year, the warming of each day created a wet film of melted lubricant between the pebbles of ice, and these remnants of a stubborn winter were especially treacherous.
One leg slipped out from underneath Zeb as he was crossing a deeper drift and he almost fell. Catching himself on an aspen branch, he cursed under his breath. He glanced down at the laced-up leather boots that extended almost to his knee. He had fashioned them out of heavy elk hide by firelight over long winter nights in the notch cabin, one of several small log shelters he had built and called home from time to time. Gonna have to figure out some grippers for these one day.
Moving with stealth to the edge of the willows that fringed the upper beaver pond, he crouched and looked carefully around once again. No bears, no wolves, no Indians — for now. Rising, he positioned the muzzle of the Sharps in front of him and slipped through the thin red branches of the willows until he stood on the edge of the water. On the other side of the impoundment, just a stone's throw away, was the wet, furry head and clear V-wake of a swimming beaver.
Taking a few steps toward a large log, red-brown with sun and rot and perched partially on the bank, he looked down to where it disappeared into the depths of the pond. He could make out his trap just a few feet from shore; his own image superimposed on the surface of the water over the snare.
He took a moment to contemplate his wiry figure, clad in fringed, dirt-stained, brown leather. The lower part of his reflected body was partially obscured by the foot of thin ice that still clung to the shore. A coonskin hat sat above a narrow face with deep-set eyes under bushy eyebrows. The facial features were distorted slightly by gentle riffles stirred by the breeze that wafted down the creek. Even that distortion did not hide two thick purple claw mark scars that descended from below the left eye diagonally down around to the left jawline and neck below the ear. The image grinned at him. Not very pretty are you?
Reaching over his shoulder, he drew out the fourteen-inch bone-handled blade that rested in the fringed and beaded sheath on his back. Carefully using the log for support, he sank his arm into the frigid waters up to his elbow and plucked the empty trap from the bottom. He let it lay in the matted winter grass to drip-dry and strode another fifty feet around the pond where he repeated the procedure with the second trap. It, too, was empty. After each action, he paused, peered and deciphered the sounds of the meadow. The beaver he had seen earlier had crawled on the bank and was busily gnawing on the bark of an aspen tree it had no doubt felled the night before. Kneeling, Zeb rested his left elbow on his left knee, taking careful aim at the beaver's head with the Sharps. Pulling back the hammer, he leveled his right eye down the sites atop the forty-seven-inch blued barrel, then hesitated.
Opening both eyes from his sighting squint, he lowered the rifle and gingerly uncocked the firing mechanism. The beaver halted its industrious work and stared at him from across the pond as Zeb spoke to it in a low voice. "Hell, you are a lucky damn critter today. I don't need to make no noise, and I'm not much inclined to unwrap an entire pack for one pelt." Slinging the traps over his shoulder, he watched the beaver for a moment longer. "We'll see you next season. Have lots of young-uns."
Zeb walked with wary caution back to the horse and mules. He stowed the traps in the panniers strung behind the horse's saddle, thrust the Sharps and Enfield deep into their scabbards, mounted and paused once more to scout in all directions. "All right, fellas, time to skedaddle." Wheeling the mustang around, followed by the mules, he picked his way back down the slope, careful not to skyline their figures during the descent.
It was not long until evening, and they still had two hours to the notch cabin. The crimson tendrils of the departing day kissed the tops of snowcapped peaks. Below the snowline of the nearest three mountains, the land had a red cast that mingled with the green of conifer stands. Cooled at higher elevations, the late afternoon air currents whispered gently downslope. His trail led him through grassy plateaus, rimmed by red rock, glowing and pulsing with the low angle of the sun. Stands of trees gathered in clusters wherever unseen springs bubbled to the surface. Here and there were tall, dark, abrupt outcroppings of stone. Bits of white quartz sparkled in the rocks, which stood like sentinels guarding the meadows in the stair-step terrain.
As he rode, Zeb gave some study to his plan. He didn't like towns — he wasn't partial to being in the same vicinity as a lot of other people. Especially white folks. On the other hand, the two trading posts, Bent's Fort along the South Platte, and the others, Vasquez or St. Vrain on the Arkansas River, would only give him a fraction of the real worth of his pelts, gathered during the long seasons of last fall and this spring. He wondered if he could tolerate the sights, sounds and smells of Cherry Creek for the few days it would take to sell or trade the skins.
The edge of night was chasing the last of daylight from the western sky when Zeb reached the cabin. He tied off the mules and put the horse in the rough log corral. Then, patiently rigging the elementary block and tackle he had fashioned to a thick cottonwood limb, lifted the bundles of furs, still attached to the pack saddles, from the backs of the mules.
He rubbed down the animals with straw and threw them some of the wild hay grass he had hand-cut with a scythe the previous fall in the small sub-irrigated meadow by Divide Creek, just below the cabin. "Good job today, boys. I think tomorrow we just might start our trek down to the flats." Reflecting for a moment, he spat the last of his wad of chew to the earth at the side of his feet and added, "Not that I'm all too fired-up about it."
Sliding the long horizontal poles over the heavy log bucks that constituted the jack leg enclosure, he turned and walked a few steps toward the cabin. Before reaching the front stoop, he stopped to regard the shadowed shape of the low-slung structure and rolled himself a smoke.
It had taken a long time using the stock, pulleys and ropes to build the small shelter in this high-country nook. It was only sixteen by twenty feet but he had put great care into its construction. The large hewn logs at the base were well fitted, the walls rising with smaller logs until they disappeared under the sloped cover of the roof. The chink was a mixture of grass and dried mud borne by the mules, pail after pail from the inside corner of the creek a quarter-mile downstream. There the spring runoffs slowed and dumped silt before they made the turn to rush and tumble down the mountain. Probably need to rechink this coming season.
Lodgepole pine rafters strung out unevenly below the edge of the roof over the small front stoop by the door. The roof, too, was a mixture of mud and grass, which, except in the worst of the storms, kept the weather from the interior of the cabin. He had fashioned shutters from smaller tree boughs over the four glassless windows, one on each wall. Each had a firing slit. He had never had to use them for defense. The rope-hinged closures kept out the wind and helped retain the heat. The door was thick and sturdy, built of three-inch thick rough-sawn planks hauled from Bent's Fort and Cherry Creek nine years before, the last time he had been to the eastern edge of the mountains.
Drawing deeply on the cigarette he exhaled slowly and critically surveyed the door. Zeb was used to having conversations with objects, his small remuda and himself. Sometimes it was comforting to hear his own voice. "I need to put in a real hinge system," he said aloud. The four doubled-up leather hide strips, their ends nailed to the frame and inside edge of the door, held up for only a few months before they had to be replaced. Zeb stroked his mustache, "Maybe I will get me some of that hardware this trip. Metal ought to last a sight longer than hide." Looking up at the sky, he sniffed several times. Damp. Smells like snow. Winter's a long time goin' up this high this year.
In the cabin, Zeb lit the single oil lamp, which — along with one six-pane window — had miraculously made its unbroken way from the flatlands on that same trip almost a decade before. Need a refill on this lamp oil too. And tobacco and papers. I reckon I'd better make me a list.
He built a fire in the fireplace that he had painstakingly crafted from creek cobblestones and makeshift mortar. Placing the metal triangle upright and its cast-iron hanging pot close to the flames, he cut off chunks from the salted elk that hung from the ceiling, adding water, and throwing in some wild scallions and previous season asparagus he had gathered during the ride to the beaver ponds.
Lying on the makeshift hide bed on the dirt floor, coonskin hat still on, he supported his head on one hand and watched the fire.
"Yep," Zeb said to the cabin logs that glowed amber from the flickers of flame, "Yep, I think I just might go to Cherry Creek. More money and I can get some things I won't find up on the Arkansas. With luck, I can vamoose out of town in a day or two. That shouldn't harm me none."
* * *
The morning was high-country spring crisp, almost cold, with a dusting of wet snow. The air warmed quickly as the sun rose over the sheer, interspersed, red rock ledges marching up the mountain across the creek and the light of emerging day danced on the riffles of the stream.
Grimacing, Zeb began to roll a smoke and spat the last of his chew, which hit the upright on the hitching post in front of the cabin porch exactly in the center. He glanced out at the horse and the pack mules. "Be with you fellas in just a second."
Turning, he walked back into the cabin, opened one of the window shutters to allow in some light and rummaged for paper. He had learned to write at an early age, though his block print was painstaking. Sitting down on one of the two stumps that served as seats at the makeshift table, he whittled down the point of the pencil with a knife, licked the lead and began to write. The piece of tattered paper he found already had writing on it. Occasionally, on a cold winter night, as skins dried and after chores were completed, he would pencil out thoughts or notions inspired by the eerie groan of the wind as it played on the log corners of the cabin.
Pausing, he stared vacantly out the panes of the cabin's only glassed window, that old familiar melancholy emptiness simmering in his gut again. It was worn far worse on those long snowy nights when the creep of darkness between sunrise and sunset seemed interminable. It was rare that he could pick up a pencil and not think of his family, particularly his mother. She had been a schoolteacher in the small western Missouri town on the outskirts of St. Louis near the farm where he, his brother and parents lived. It was she who had insisted he be literate.
His father had toiled on the one hundred sixty acres they called home. He had been a quiet, taciturn man. Zeb loved and respected him but they were never close. It was his mother, an attractive but rugged woman who looked older than she was, whom Zeb revered. She read him books of faraway places and strange adventures before he could read them for himself. It was the stories of the French and Spanish explorers that intrigued him most. Many nights he would fall asleep in his mother's arms as they read together from the latest book. He loved to watch her teach during the two days a week his father allowed him to attend the one-room schoolhouse. He marveled at her kindness, patience and sincere wish to help others.
Then there was the day his life turned inside out. He had gone into town for supplies. Despite his father's admonition to hurry back, he had spent an extra hour with some friends. His mind had long ago blacked out the details but he could still feel the horror, panic and nausea when he saw the billows of thick gray smoke and heard scattered gunshots a few miles out from the farm. Several bands of white renegades had been terrorizing lonely farms along the Mississippi River north and south of St. Louis. Zeb knew what they did to their victims.
Frantically slapping the lines along the flanks of the old team of horses pulling the wagon, he urged them into a gallop but he arrived too late. The outlaws were gone, with all the horses. Many of the livestock had been shot and those still alive were bleating in terror. His father and older brother lay face down, both shot in the back and scalped. They had obviously made an attempt to get out of the grain field and reach the house, now being consumed in a searing eruption of flame. Every building in the farmstead was burning. Searching desperately for his mother, he finally found her scalped body, dress half-torn away, eyes open and sightless in a pile of bloody hay behind the smoldering hay barn. From that point, his memory went blank.
Townspeople who went out to the farmstead later told him he had fashioned grave markers and buried the three bodies but Zeb had never been able to remember any of that. The bank took the farm and he found a job working for room, board and meager wages for eighteen months at the livery stable, where he learned everything he could from every pioneer, trapper and cavalry man on their way to St. Louis to head west. He learned the renegades that had murdered his family were led by a half-breed who went by the name of Black Feather. He toyed with the idea of revenge but eventually concluded that what he wanted was to leave Missouri, hole up in the Rockies and never return.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Threads West"
Copyright © 2013 Writing Dream LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Rockin' SR Publishing.
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.
Table of Contents
An American Saga Threads West,
CHAPTER ONE Zeb,
CHAPTER TWO Reuben,
CHAPTER THREE Cherry Creek,
CHAPTER FOUR Inga,
CHAPTER FIVE Rebecca,
CHAPTER SIX Johannes,
CHAPTER SEVEN Winds of Fate,
CHAPTER EIGHT Jacob,
CHAPTER NINE SS Edinburgh,
CHAPTER TEN Foretold,
CHAPTER ELEVEN Princess in Portsmouth,
CHAPTER TWELVE Sarah,
CHAPTER THIRTEEN On the High Seas,
CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Redhead,
CHAPTER FIFTEEN America,
CHAPTER SIXTEEN Castle Garden,
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Mayor's Carriage,
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Uncle Hermann,
CHAPTER NINETEEN Gracie Mansion,
CHAPTER TWENTY Common Ground,
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Seduction,
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Handle of Pearl,
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Lunch in the City,
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR The Map,
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Beguiled,
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX Threads West,
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN The Train,
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT At First Sight,
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE Secrets,
CHAPTER THIRTY Aunt Stella's Shop,
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE A Difference of Opinion,
CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO Reunion,
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE The Baggage Car,
CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR Encounter,
CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE The Decision,
CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX Dangers Ahead,
CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN Innocence Stolen,
CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT Metamorphosis,
CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE St. Louis,
CHAPTER FORTY Untold,
CHAPTER FORTY-ONE Money for the Journey,
CHAPTER FORTY-TWO Mac,
CHAPTER FORTY-THREE Comeuppance,
CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR Preparations,
CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE Westward,
Threads West An American Saga,
Maps of Fate,
Strength of Conviction,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well developed characters. The author makes you feel as if you are there with them as their stories unfold. I love to read stories about the settling of the American West and this is one of the best I've read. Reid Lance Rosenthal has done a marvelous job of capturing the period. The only downside about the whole experience was when the book ended because I couldn't wait to see what next happened to the characters. I'm now reading the third book in the series and it is a page turner just as the first two were.
Threads West Series Author Reid Rosenthal was a new author to me. I love L’Amour, and Larry McMurtry and was surprisingly pleased to find Mr. Rosenthal has surpassed them. I was never eager to know all the details of history, but Mr. Rosenthal makes it very enjoyable and interesting. The Threads west series about the immigration and western movement is very inspiring. Reid has the ability to bring the characters and vivid landscapes to life. I feel like I know them personally. I feel their pain, joy, love, struggles and compassion. The series has passion, unanticipated twist and turns, with unlikely characters come together to help one another. I read all 4 books within a few weeks. Very hard to put down. I wait with great anticipation and excitement for the next ones. I know I will love them as much as the first 4.
I started my family Genealogy, and in it, I found a Newspaper article of the recollections of my Great Grandma coming to Idaho in a Covered Wagon with her 15 Siblings. As I read Book 1 Threads West, I found myself re-living my family's feelings, their fears, their happiness, their Love of the County. Reid has a way of writing that you can actually visualize every detail, you feel you have lived the story, and you can't wait to get to Book 2, then 3.. I am currently flipping pages of Book 4... Reid has such a gift, to be able to put his visions into words that we can understand. Thank Reid
As you read this book, the lives and travels of the characters will bring you straight to the West in the mid 1800's. Reid Lance Rosenthal has built a family tree rich in heritage and tradition that must learn that tradition just might not work in the new territories. Several reviews compare this series to Lonesome Dove and there are some similarities. Threads West centers on the family dynamics more than Lonesome Dove. This cast of characters dream of building new lives and finding riches along the way. The story is an excellent start to a saga of the beginning of the new west.
Great Western Novel Author Does A Great Job. Hope He Keeps With The Same Style.