Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid, John A. Aragon and Mary W. Walters

Today I am reviewing a book that is unique in it's approach to telling the story. Let me begin by saying  The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid is NOT your daddy's western! I've long been a fan of both the authors, John A. Aragon and Mary W. Walters, and I did expect big things from this collaboration.  I was not disappointed!
The Blurb:
The West will never be the same . . . .

New Mexico, 1922.

The orphaned eighteen-year-old stablehand Rosalind Grundy is seduced by a married woman, and faces a lynching after the pair is surprised in flagrante delicto. But she manages to escape with the aid of a strange and aristocratic old man who calls himself Don Valiente.

Don Valiente, having read too many dime westerns, has come to believe that he is a famous gunfighter. He thinks Roz is a young man named Ross, and he takes her under his wing, intending to teach her and to revive "The Code Of The Caballeros."

Don Valiente and Roz embark on a series of comic adventures. But when they come upon a grisly murder scene and the trail of three escaped-convict killers, Roz realizes that her only chance to survive the imminent showdown and to reunite with her true love lies in her ability to separate Don Valiente's madness from the eternal truths in his teaching.
The Review:
Let me just say I fell in love with Don Valiente the moment he began speaking!  He is wild, wise and completely committed to living The Code of the Caballeros.  In one very moving scene, after Roz has been forced to kill a man in self defense, she sheds tears for her vanquished foe, wondering why he had to go and put himself in the position where she had to shoot him in self-defense. Don Valiente tells her that the path of the Caballero is full of compassion for the misguided souls he must usher into the next world. "Do you not think that the executioner does not recognise that even those who must pay for their bad deeds with their lives are also human beings, like him, who live, love, and know the beauty of creation?"
The wisdom Don Valiente imparts to Roz over the course of the tale is beautiful and moving. His spirituality is deep and is such a part of him that he has an enormous influence on his young apprentice. I myself have taken much of it to heart! His truths are universal, and as she begins to understand what he is trying to teach her, Roz begins to know who she is, and to be comfortable in her own skin.
Roz is young, beautifully human and is just a girl who is caught up in something that is so much larger than she is. Her motives are simple and honest. In reading this book, I felt every one of of Roz's trials and sorrows as if they were my own.  She's an unlikely hero, but she is the sort of hero that made the legends of the old west come to life.
The bad-guys in this tale are awesome, in part because they aren't all men.  Leta, Kruger and the Beast have few redeeming qualities, and they are quite frightening.  I never knew what they would do next. They are as nasty and evil as any villains I've ever met. 
If you are looking for a real adventure, a book that will widen your horizons and will keep you turning the pages into the wee hours of the night, this is definitely the book for you.

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