Sitka by Louis L’Amour is the book I’m currently reading. It’s a typical L’Amour-tall, strong, ruggedly-handsome man who is above-average in fist fighting, shooting accuracy, and draw speed fights against the big cattleman, or in this case, Russian-only Alaska access company, and falls in love with a gorgeous and apparently unattainable woman. His name is Jean LeBarge, and his father-did I mention, his main characters normally have famous or infamous fathers-is either missing or dead. He keeps being mentioned, so I’m thinking that the father is going to show up at some later point in the novel. I don’t know if Louis L’Amour ever spent an extensive amount of time in Alaska, so I’m interested in seeing how he deals with a setting he never personally experienced. Of course, knowing him, he probably did sneak in several years of prospecting between the military and the shipwrecking. I’ll repost when I finish the book and decide whether my guesses were right.
I saw at least 7 different covers, but this is the one I have:
Edit: Rather than repost with the final verdict, I’m just going to add it here. From now on, I’ll actually finish the book before reviewing it, which makes more sense anyway.
Interestingly, and I don’t really consider this a spoiler, since probably no one in the world but me even thought it in the first place, but the father never returned. This makes me sad, because the number of hints given as to the possibility of him still being alive were numerous, but possibly deadlines and how the plot unfolded made that avenue impractical.
The book is set in Russia, mostly, as stated before, in the 1860s or thereabouts. As many books by L’Amour, Sitka is in the Western genre, and though there are no cowboys, it fits the genre very well. The descriptions capture the beauty and wildness of Alaska as well as the vast expanses of the sea-for Sitka is also a sailing novel. Though the plot is rather predictable, the twists that are there completely surprised me. At the end, I found myself grinning at the…can I call it Epicness? or perhaps Boldness…of the story.
The characters are also truly believable. Zinnovy, who ends up as the main villain, is just as ruthless and immoral as any villain should be. I don’t actually know what he looks like, because I often seem to ignore character descriptions while I read, but in my mind I see a fox-like man with short greasy black hair and cold eyes. Jean LeBarge, whose name I have trouble distinguishing from Jean Valjean and…someone else whom I can no longer remember (See, Ms. Dennis, I used ‘whom’ right! Unless I didn’t. In which case, I’m going to fail my next grammar test…). Anyway, he is a typical L’Amour character. As said above, he’s strong and ruggedly handsome. He also is well spoken, smart, quick-thinking, a good judge of character, and not afraid to fight. Sometimes, his apparent lack of faults becomes annoying, but Zinnovy’s evil determination makes LeBarge seem much better. Helena, the love interest, which most stories have, I have mixed feelings for. Her relationship with Jean evolves quickly, and I feel some of her parts are kind of forced. My favorite character? I’d have to say is Count Alexander Rotcheff.
It’s around 350 pages, depending on the edition, and was originally published in 1957.