Hondo by Louis L'Amour

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Louis L'Amour said; "I think of myself in the oral tradition-as a troubadour, a village tale-teller, the man in the shadows of the campfire. That's the way I'd like to be remembered- as a storyteller. A good storyteller."

Some critical of L’Amour say they find the stories unrealistic, but those that like this author it is the very deep understanding of the land and the way of life that make his stories resonate. L’Amour is not a contemporary author bringing interest to his plot with fictional villains and methods, instead his plots are true to life for the time they take place.

Hondo Lane, on behalf of the government, is scouting the Arizona dessert looking for Apache braves. He winds up at a small ranch in the heart of the Indian territory and meets Angie and her young son Johnny. She has been abandoned by her husband, is alone, and in a very dangerous place.

Hondo does some work helping at the ranch, buys a horse from her and then leaves to go to the fort in the area. Along the way he finds the remains of a viscous Apache on a small group of solders. He decides to go back to help Angie and the boy as soon as he gets to the fort to let them know what happened.

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While Hondo is away Angie and Johnny are attacked by by Apaches and when one of the braves gets close the boy takes a gun and stands up for his mother stopping the brave.  Chief Vittoro is impressed and touched by the young boy. He makes him a blood brother and the relationship leads to some safety for Johnny and Angie for a short time.

Hondo returns to the ranch. Angie’s husband follows him. The relationship with the Apaches changes. The plot has mystery, romance and as John Wayne was quoted as saying, it was the “finest western” he had ever read.

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Quotes

“There was a curious affinity between man and dog. Both were untamed, both were creatures born and bred to fight, honed and tempered fine by hot winds and long desert stretches, untrusting, dangerous, yet good companions in a hard land.”

 “But a long time ago I made me a rule: I let people do what they want to do.”

“The Apache don't have a word for love," he said. 
"Know what they both say at the marriage? The squaw-taking ceremony?"
"Tell me."
"Varlebena. It means forever. That's all they say.”