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Best Fiction Western Books,Novels, and Authors 2015

Updated on January 12, 2015

If you have ever dreamed of being a cowboy or girl in the old west, then you've probably read good western books.

These works of fiction take us away to simpler times where man lived off the land and rode horses across the plains.

Here's my personal list of some of the best new and classic western novels to read in 2014.

True heroism, betrayal, and the quality of writing set the Lonesome Dove in a category with some of the best western novels of all time.
True heroism, betrayal, and the quality of writing set the Lonesome Dove in a category with some of the best western novels of all time.

10 New and Classic Fictional Western Books You'll Love Reading

10. Lonesome Dove

"Lonesome Dove" is one of those westerns that get you invested in the characters and the story. Written by Larry McMurty this book inspired four novels and a miniseries due to the gripping storyline and settings. "Lonesome Dove" is a love story within an adventure and an American epic. This book includes both legend and fact and gives you the gritty reality of the west.

The story is that of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana and focuses on Augustus McCrae and W.F. Call, both former Texas Rangers. With an amazing cast of characters drawn in by Call's dream of America this book will also draw readers in.

This book includes everything from heroism to betrayal and is well written, proving itself to be one of those westerns the public waits for.

9. The Border Trilogy

"The Border Trilogy", though more than one book, deserves to be put on the list. Available in one volume this trilogy, written by Cormac McCarthy, includes "All the Pretty Horses", "The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain".

These books follow the lives of two young men in the Southwest and Mexico. A coming of age story these books are beautiful, humorous, and sorrowful combined. These books have been deemed an American Classic and something every western lover should read.

8. Monte Walsh

"Monte Walsh" by Jack Schaefer tells the tale of Monte Walsh and his friend Chet Rollins. These men look out for each other in the old west, surviving outlaws and bar fights and hanging with pretty women and gambling in their spare time.

The typical cowboys, the men act more like brothers than trail hands. The storyline focuses in the changing of the west as horses and replaced with automobiles and there is no need for trail hands as herds split up.

The friends separate and we watch them try to cope with their changing world. With strong characters that you grow to care for, one reviewer said it was "simply the best book of its type ever written" and a book for western lovers.

7. Shane

Another well-loved book by Jack Schaefer would be "Shane". Schaefer is most well-known for this classic where the main character is a mysterious man named Shane whom you don't know much about.

Shane become a working hand at the residence of the Starrett family and gets involved in the feud between the homesteaders and a man named Fletcher. In this short novel Bob, the son of Joe Starrett, is the narrator and draws you into this no nonsense story.

This is a great read for young and old with several themes throughout the book. "Shane" is sure to keep you entertained.

6. The Shootist

This next book was chosen by the Western Writers of America as one of the best western novels ever written. It is "The Shootist" by author Glendon Swartout. This novel was also a "treasured edition" to Former President Ronald Reagan's library.

"The Shootist" tells the story of one of the last famous living gunman, John Bernard Books. In El Paso, Texas Books consults a trusted doctor and learns he is dying of prostate cancer. This is fatal and painful, so Books cannot move on and news spreads that he is at death's door.

Many types of people show up to be Book's killer but he outwits them all until they last climatic gunfight. A storyline that keeps you on the edge of your seat, "The Shootist" should be required reading for all western readers.

5. The Cowboy and the Cossack

"The Cowboy and the Cossack" by Clair Huffaker is a five star novel with an unusual plot.

This book follows a group of ranchers from Montana who have been hired to deliver a herd of cattle to Russia. Some found the fact that Russia was involved hard to grasp, but this is a well-loved book. "The Cowboy and the Cossack" is still a cowboy tale, but as they travel through Siberia and face new challenges they are accompanied by Russian Cossack warriors.

They face many new adventures along the way and the story is compelling and believable. The characters are well developed, the plot is exciting, and the relationships that develop are compelling. Though not your typical western novel this book is certainly one to read.

4. Blood Meridian

Another Cormac McCarthy book makes the list. "Blood Meridian: Or the Redness in the West" is another must read western. This novel cleverly combines the normal western novel with the myths of the Wild West in an epic tale of the violence and depravity during the westward expansion in America.

This book actually is based on historic events on the Texas -Mexico border follows a fourteen year old the Kid.

The Kid ends up in a horrible world of murdered Indians and the selling of their scalps. Some reviewers describe this book as overwhelming and not a relaxing book, but one that pulls you in and demands a reread. Not your typical old west book, "Blood Meridian" is one to look into.

3. The Virginian

"The Virginian" by Owen Wister is another classic western everyone should read. A four and a half star rating, this book tells the tale of the foreman of a ranch in Wyoming.

This man lives by the West's honor code to the letter even if it means lynching his friend or losing the girl he wants to marry. Some reviewers say it is hard to get attacked to the characters until the very end but others say "The Virginian" is captivating due to the human truths it focuses on.

"The Virginian" focuses what a gentleman is, the battle between good and evil, love, spirituality, and some many other things that define humans. This is a western that gets you thinking.

2. In the Rogue Blood

Another great book with captivating characters is "In the Rogue Blood" by James Carlos Blake. His story follows that of Edward and John Little who are driven from their home by their parents' errors and by a terrible haunting act.

This is a tale of testing the family bond when the brothers get separated and end up fighting on different side of a fight between Mexico and the United States.

This tale is both memorable and captivating, using vivid imagery and great style to pull the reader into the book. "In The Rouge Blood" should be on the shelf of any western reader.

1.Jubal Sackett

Last but not least a book by Louis L'Amour. This writer has always been a favorite and one of his top selling books is "Jubal Sackett". This is another of the Sackett books and we follow Jubal, whose eyes are set westward.

He meets a priest who sets him on an impossible quest to find a Natchez exploration party in the plains. Itchakomi is part of that party and she is next to rule her people, but she must first defeat the warrior Kapata. Jubal battles danger which opens his eyes to life and to love.

This is another five start book, and any true western reader should have L'Amour on his shelf, and definitely Jubal Sackett. This tale draws you in and gets you invested in Jubal and in the Sackett family. This is the definition on a western novel.

5 stars for In the Rogue Blood

Whether you are searching for a classic western or one that pushes the envelope, these books are certain to impress. Western books amaze us and take us to a place where cowboys roamed and adventure is just around the corner.

I hope you've enjoyed this review. Please take the time to leave a comment with any feedback you have and your favorite western book and author. Also you can see more of my book lists and reviews on my profile page. Thanks for stopping by.

Open Western Novel Fan Discussion Area

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Rattlesnakes, Ghosts and Murderers is a fun book to read.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Lonesome Dove by McMurtry is the best. Philipp Meyers' The Son is very good.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Any book by Elmer Kelton is a great read.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Robert b Parker Virgle Cole sereis

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have never seen "A Sudden Country", by Karen Fisher, on any of these lists and it is a crime!! It was a finalist for the Penn/Faulkner award. Please please give this woman the credit and readership she deserves...

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have read most of these books and do love reading a good Western Novel. I recently wrote a Western Fiction Novel, "Legends of the Coyote", because I wanted to write about how the Civil War and the Westward Expansion gave birth to the western gunslinger and how mainly these outlaws became lawmen.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hondo by Louis L'amour is frequently a recommendation that I make to anyone on this topic.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm searching for the book The Trail, can you tell me more about it? Author etc.? Thank you

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've read most of these, absolutely loved some of them. Don't see The Searchers here or the The Trail, also great Westerns. The Trail, just published in 2012, needs to, like most of novels, be turned into a movie.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great hints, I plan to order some of these books!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great hints, I plan to order some of these books!!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      "Tales from the Old West" Vol I & II are fantastic! It's a coloration of many authors you already know and love."The Virginian" is a great starting place too! After reading that book, I recorded all the TV re-runs for the fun of it. "Sixteen Brides" and "Sarah's Quilt" were nice reads too, but more in the chic-lit realmThanks for posting this site! Now I look forward to weaving in some new books to my weekends!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @montanatravel52: I LOVED the audio of "A River Runs Through It." It's so pleasing!

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 5 years ago

      Funny, I have a lens about my top 5 favorite novels about Montana and the West, and my favorite is "A River Runs Through It" (yes the book:)), the iconic classic about Montana, fishing,the Old West way of life.... anyway, I really like your list and descriptions, I now have another couple of good books to read, thanks!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      If you are interested, there is a spectacular western fictional novel that takes place between Laramie and Saratoga, Wyoming. It can be ordered on line, but copies have been donated to the Laramie City Library and to the University of Wyoming libraries. Copies were also given to the restaurants/hotels in Centennial when I rode through there a few years ago. Everyone who has read it has said it is one of the best stories they have ever read. Unfortunately almost nobody has ever heard of it, but If you are looking a a terrific western novel that will make you smile, laugh and cry, that you will hate to see end and that can stand with the best westerns ever written, I encourage you to give it a read. It's called "Where The Mountains Meet The Sage", by Florin Owens.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for an interesting list. Several I was not aware of. I would like to recommend "Austin Campbell US Marshal". I recently found it in Kindle Books. It is more of the classic Western, pitting a lawman against badguys. Well written and a good read.