The Reluctant Warrior: The Journey Begins
by Charley Green
C.R. Green & Associates

"Now I know you boys will be tired from working cattle all day and so will I. However, I’d rather be tired, practiced and ready when the time comes, than tired, not practiced and dead."

This is a western novel in the classic tradition. The hero, Joel, having survived the Civil War, arrives home in West Virginia and immediately has to deal with wounds to the heart brought about by his mother's and sister's suffering at the hands of a band of deserters. When his father passes soon after, Joel sells the family farm and takes off for Texas and whatever life has in store for him. After he reaches the Lone Star State, what follows is Joel's involvement in a cattle drive. The protagonist is hired more for his previous military expertise than his knowledge of longhorns. The owner of the herd is aware that marauding Indians and malevolent cattle rustlers stand between him and his destination—Dodge City, Kansas. Before the drive is over, Joel will have helped mold a bunch of cowboys into a formidable fighting force and acquitted himself well in the disposition of both heathens and miscreants.

Author Green is a first-class storyteller who takes the reader along for quite a ride. His chronicle of the cattle drive itself conjures images of early television's Rawhide, Larry McMurtry's unforgettable Lonesome Dove, plus innumerable Hollywood westerns. Green's tale, however, never seems like a copy. It feels like more of an homage to the times and individuals that shaped America's westward expansion. Green's primary character definitely comes across as what the title suggests—a man slow to violence but lethal when required. The author also does a good job of creating supporting players who are both credible and memorable. But this is Joel's story. It's a good one, and it's just the beginning as Green indicates subsequent novels will continue the tale of his protagonist.

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