Top critical review
Another Story by a Professional Storyteller
Reviewed in the United States on August 30, 2018
By my count, The Lonesome Gods was Louis L'Amour’s 83rd novel and the book’s contents align with that impressive production of words. Within these pages is a story produced by a professional storyteller. The characters all have their turn at doing interesting things, they all have an inspirational line or two, and the story is entertaining.
But that’s just about all that The Lonesome Gods is: an entertaining story. The characters are shallow and lack the distinctive attributes that make humans come to life through words. Even their names tend to be non-distinct. Finney, Fraser, Farley, and Fletcher were all on the same wagon while heading towards the west coast. Fraser was a teacher so at least he had that going for him. The rest of the “F” Troupe (sorry) were essentially interchangeable with one another, which didn’t matter very much at all to the plot of the story.
The plot moves from scene to scene and while most scenes work, there are a few that fall flat and a few that progress into fantasy. It may be that L’Amour’s main reason for writing this book was to name-drop all the people and places that eventually resulted in forming modern-day Southern California. Towards the end of the book, however, the travels of the main character become impossible with respect to the places mentioned and the distances between them.
And therein lies the disappointment. I was hoping for the pre-developed California environment to take its place among the characters. I was hoping that descriptions of heat, barren mountains, and seemingly lifeless brush would stir up my own feelings of fear that I felt during my childhood road-trips through these inhospitable places. I was hoping for characters with distinct personalities. In short, I was hoping for something more than just an entertaining story.