‘Far Bright Star’ by Robert Olmstead

Napoleon on his rattler.

Well, shitfire. Far Bright Star is the first Olmstead book I’ve read, and I can see why he holds the distinguished position as reigning master of western prose. Talk about violent, gritty, and brutal descriptions that don’t just set the scene for you, but snatch you so hard into them you have whiplash. Ex: I was eating while reading a passage and literally gagged. This is a great book if you are dieting.

The year is 1916. Napoleon Childs is a veteran calvaryman leading a group of novice soldiers on a search for the elusive Pancho Villa. Months prior, Villa massacred the small town of Columbus, New Mexico. The USA declared war against the Mexican terrorists and assembled the troop, with Napoleon as their fearless leader.

Things are terribly wrong when the troop is ambushed by a group of bandits led by a woman who is as unforgiving as they come. And that doesn’t mean they didn’t have it coming after unnecessarily provoking her men. Instead of killing all of them, she leaves Napoleon in the desert so one survivor can go back and tell the other Americans -and our government- to fuck around again, and find out. And so begins a solitary journey for survival. Napoleon, hardened and typically unflinching is, for the first time ever, afraid. He’s naked, thirsty, hallucinating, and stranded. His only hope is his twin brother, who he knows will search for him. Napoleon also relies on our ever present North Star as a guide. Because what’s north of Mexico? Home.

This is a very violent book that may be hard for some to take. And that’s ok. Because we aren’t supposed to like battle, or the people who perpetuate it. We aren’t supposed to be cool with a horse kicking a guy’s nuts off as a way to torture him. So, if this bothers you, I’d say you are well adjusted.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been made into a movie yet. But if it is done well, it will be an instant classic. Like up there with Unforgiven and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. As for casting, the only person I could see playing the no-nonsense Napoleon is Michael Shannon because I mean:

If you like westerns, I say absolutely read this. If you have a weak stomach and prefer Harry Potter and Mary Poppins, run away from this, and do so fast. Because there is no way you won’t feel this man’s suffering.

Dream cast 🍿 🎥:

Napoleon Childs: Michael Shannon

Xenophon Childs: Joshua Jackson

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