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Fighting Caravans
By Zane Grey

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Fighting Caravans

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Fighting Caravans
By Zane Grey
Center Point Large Print, (2002)
ISBN: 1-58547-201-8
Genre: Western

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 24 2002

When Clint "Buff" Belmet headed west with his parents, he thought that he was in for an unforgettable adventure. Unforgettable it was, but not in the way he expected. Clint was thirteen years old in 1856, when the family arrived in Independence Missouri. Jim Belmet, Clint's father knew that from Independence they would need to join a larger party heading west, both for safety and for the mutual aid. The family also needed money and supplies. This was all taken care of when Jim hires on with the Tillt Company as a freight driver, delivering goods to the posts and forts scattered along the Sante Fe trail. With Jim driving the freight wagon, and Clint with the responsibility of driving the family's covered wagon, the family heads west. Driving the wagon is a big responsibility for a young man, but one that Clint is more than capable of managing.

Fighting Caravans is a classic, action-packed western adventure tale by Zane Grey. As the book starts, Clint is on top of the world. He is heading out on a great adventure, he has his family around him, and he even meets a young girl, May Bell, to whom he pledges his troth in very short order. Grey, however, is not one to let his characters off so easily. So in short order, Clint's mother is killed and young May is taken captive by Indians. The family's intention had been to head west and settle down, but without Clint's mother, this option is no longer attractive to Jim. As a result, Jim agrees to continue to work as a fright driver, and Clint, mature above his age, becomes a freight driver himself. With ease that belays his years, he easily handles the massive team and wagon needed to haul the heavy loads over the rough terrain of the American West. Clint wins the respect wherever he goes, both for his skills and for his nobility in the face of danger.

Clint has many adventures while working for the freight company, and he makes many friends. Along the way he finds that he must watch as many of his new friends die. On the frontier, death is Clint's constant companion. Not only do the freighters have to be on a constant look out against Indian attack, but they also have to keep an eye out for bandits. The work is hard and dangerous, but Clint thrives on it. And each blow he receives only makes him stronger, even when evil again strikes his small family.

Grey has a phenomenal knack for bringing the sights and sounds of the west alive. Not only does he give an authentic overview of day to day life on the frontier, but he also is able to transmit the raw emotions of the events that shaped the characters of the western frontiersmen. Events that range from fighting Indians to the raw necessity of frontier justice when robbers are hung without remorse by whoever happens to catch them.

Not everything on the frontier was fair, and Clint instinctively knew this. It wasn't fair that the white settlers were usurping Indian lands, but it was a fact of life. While he did not relish fighting Indians as some did, he would not give his life away for free. And fighting Indians was to play a major role in the direction that his life was to take.

This is a good, old-fashioned, hard-hitting, western adventure tale that will delight readers both young and old. The book is peppered with 'real' life figures from western lore, including Kit Carson, with whom Clint interacts. The adventures he has are energetically portrayed, and they include a memorable buffalo hunting trip on which he receives his nickname, Buff. This book follows Clint as he grows from a gangly boy of thirteen into a commanding figure on the frontier. In Fighting Caravans, Clint's life, his loves, and his adventures meld into one spellbinding story that will remind you why Zane Grey is the master of the Western.

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