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Book Review - Bandera Trail by Ralph Compton

Updated on May 20, 2014

Bandera Trail (Trail Drive Series) Western Historical Fiction

I have read a number of Ralph Compton books and I'm sorry to say that Bandera Trail is not up to Mr. Compton's normal high standards.

The book is based on two characters, brothers Van & Gil Austin who are the nephews of the legendary Stephen F. Austin. Although based on a trail drive this book is really about loyalty and friendship. Lots of Cowboy logic spread throughout and a strong commitment to honor among those who rely on each other for survival.

The author covers some of the rich Texas history in the early years of settlements in the Texas territory. The connection to Mexico and how Mr. Austin manage to pull of the rather monumental feat of gaining access to land controlled by Mexico would have helped the story a lot.

Compton's style is similar to the great western writer Elmer Kelton, who I highly recommend if you want a feel for the real cowboy life...the good and the bad.

Somehow you just never got the feeling that the boys uncle Stephen F. Austin was much a part of the story nor was he that great an influence on the lives of his nephews.

This book drags in several spots and never does develop much of a connection between the brothers and their famous Uncle. The relationship seems little more than a "plug-in" so Compton can call this book historical fiction.

Compton did do a nice job of pulling together several different story lines to get them all back together in a reasonably logical manner but for some reason this book never felt like it was all neatly connected.

The love angles were rather mechanical and almost formula driven with not much creativity or interesting nuances.

As always Compton is a master of the cowboy life on the trail with interesting descriptions about dealing with day-to-day life with few resources other than your survival skills.

This book falls far below The Goodnight Trail or The Western Trail which are two of Compton's best efforts. I never came close to giving up on the book but I sure wasn't going out of my way to squeeze in extra reading where I could.


Book Rating

Our rating scale is 1 - 5 (1 = unreadable and 5 = great)

Bandera Trail has earned a rating of 2.5

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