I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a good Western. I know it seems a little outdated, maybe old-fashioned even as you might reflect on television Westerns such as Gun Smoke, The Lone Ranger, even Bonanza. However the stereotype might be I am a sucker for a good Western. Cinema has done a fairly good job as I think of Lonesome Dove, Unforgiven, Open Range, and Dances with Wolves. If done well…I simply love it and will get lost in it. What I remember most about falling in love with the Western story was reading Louis L’Amour as a pre-teen. Even though most of his story and plot lines were the same I really enjoyed them, and as I am older now and remember, the memories take on a type of lore that depicts it probably better than it really was. All of this got me to thinking about “What happened to the great Western story?”
I’ll admit I haven’t exactly searched through the tag lines, search lines of my favorite e-book retailer, nor sought out the newest title at Barnes N noble, but I used to not have to search in order to run across a good Western book cover beckoning me to thumb its pages. If I happen to be at a rummage sale or a used book sale I find a ton of them. Is it because the theme is not cool anymore? Is it a part of our American past that has fallen out of favor with the public? It’s an interesting thought to ponder.
As I ponder what happened to the great literary Western I come to realize that in Fantasy it’s ever-present. Fantasy in many ways is like a good Western, just a little different. Sure there is no magic, dragons, and elves in a Western but there are many themes that they both share. For instant both genres usually have the hero embark on some journey to a strange land meeting new cultures and often find themselves in some kind of danger. Often times there is the rescue of a maiden in distress, and certainly all the time there is a bad guy that needs taken care of. The final frontiers of the United States in Westerns and the enchanted forests or wastelands in Fantasy are both kind of the same thing. The gritty wanderers in a Western and ranger, or Druid in Fantasy are similar also.
Currently I’m reading The Elf Stones of Shannara and there is a lot of Western in this Fantasy. We have plenty of horse riding, Rovers or wanderer gypsy types, and uncharted lands that have enough danger and pitfalls that the West must have had. For me a good Fantasy is like a great Western and I get my fill with it. I would prefer to watch a good Western than read one these days, but in any case Fantasy for me is a good Western with a kick!
Dark Moon Shadow is released May 2nd. Be sure to download a copy!