Chad’tu: A Western Novel
by Kelsie R. Gates
Westwood Books Publishing

"I stopped and gazed down at the most beautiful, lush green valley I’d ever seen. It took my breath away. I had found my ranch."

Chad is ten years old when he gets separated from the others. He is traveling in a wagon train westward across the great plains with his parents and other families in search of a new life. He decides to take a swim in the cooling waters as a quick respite from the day's relentless heat. But after being missed, he is never found, even after a prolonged search and rescue. What happens instead will change the course of Chad's life forever. Once rescued and brought back to health by a Comanche named Shatika, Chad's name is changed to Chad'tu—something more akin to a proper Comanche name, Shatika raises the boy as his son. He provides for him, shows him how to hunt for food, and teaches the boy his native tongue. In essence, Chad'tu is raised as an Indian—something which will prove beneficial more than once later in his life and adventures.

Eventually, Shatika passes away, and Chad'tu is captured by a legendary white gunslinger named Brett as he attempts to steal the older man's horse. Brett takes Chad'tu under his wing, and the two become best friends. Plans are made for them to open and operate a gunsmithing outfit, repairing Colts and Winchesters to custom specifications for customers. Brett is a master gunsmith, legendary in the surrounding territories for his craftsmanship in repairing and using guns. He passes on his knowledge to Chad'tu as his right-hand man. On a trip into Tombstone, where he has captured a couple of cattle-snatchers, Chad'tu is surprised to learn that the growing town has no sheriff. Before long, the mayor and judge there convince Chad'tu to become their sheriff, providing a handsome salary and the opportunity to come and go pretty much as he pleases. This means he can frequently visit Brett, some two days' ride away.

The protagonist has also become friends with a family of cattle ranchers several days' ride away in another direction upon the desert plains. He eventually falls head-over-heels in love with his friend Sid's sister, the lovely red-headed and green-eyed Jaydeen. Chad'tu decides upon first meeting her that one day the two shall marry. Among the picturesque Black Mountains, he finds the perfect spot in its large valley to build a ranch home for him and his bride-to-be. Though this is Indian territory, Chad'tu uses his background and experience being raised as a Comanche to his advantage. He becomes friendly with a band of Indians, who otherwise would not welcome the idea of a white man building his homestead near their area. In fact, the tribal leader Red Dawn becomes very close to Chad'tu. They are almost like brothers. When Chad'tu returns home one day after securing provisions, he finds that Jaydeen has been abducted. Chad'tu sets out to save his wife and seek revenge upon whoever might be looking to do them harm.

Author Gates states that his novel is written "in the style of Louis L'Amour," and that indeed is a fair assessment. Small outcroppings of towns dotted across the vast westward frontier are full of cowpokes, gunslingers, cattle ranchers, outlaws, misfits, and the like. Tombstone is full of saloons where whiskey is enjoyed like water, and strange folks new to town provoke suspicion in the eyes of locals. Gate's book has all the traditional trappings of a solid Western novel, including the romance between the main character and the fair woman he comes to love. Chad'tu is unique in that he has almost no difficulty in switching, chameleon-like, between two different worlds and personas as circumstances dictate. This ability serves Chad'tu well and, more than once, quite literally saves his hide. Adventure knows no bounds in all that Chad'tu does. It is safe to say that any admirer of the Western genre—indeed any reader on the lookout for a high-adventure, good-versus-evil, action story—will find much to enjoy in Gates' novel.

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