Book Report: Wilderness Trek by Zane Grey (1944)

Book coverI was talking to a friend of mine, and he mentioned that he was reading a Zane Grey western. It’d been a while since I read one (December 2011 to be exact), so I picked up this book.

The book takes place in Australia; two cowboy friends hire on as drovers for a man who is part of a large expedition designed to drive several thousand head of cattle from several “stations” (ranches) across the Australian outback. However, during the course of the trip, one of the two vies for the affection of a lovely young lady with a suspicious drover who has cattle-rustling designs on some of the docile Australian cattle.

The book is 304 pages long, and it feels every one of them. The descriptions are lush, and the action is slow to start as the characters, the relationships, and the courtships begin. Strangely, the confrontation and gunfight with the bad guys takes place at about page 200, which leaves 100 pages of wondering what’s coming next. As it stands, natural disaster and natives provide the set pieces between then and the successful arrival a continent away and the promises of marriage that follow. As my friend says, Western novels are just romance novels with horses and gunplay.

The book isn’t paced as fast as I prefer, and it’s not my bag (although it’s more my bag than, say, the Gunsmith series). Still, the Australian setting triggered my rewatching of Quigley Down Under and might have inspired the recent purchase of Crocodile Dundee. So it’s got that going for it.

Books mentioned in this review:

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