In this magical and epic novel, the celebrated author of Urban Cowboy delivers a Texas-size love story that transplants the legend of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin alive and well to the Old West -- to stunning effect. Code of the West begins when Jimmy Goodnight, a young, earnest cowhand, recovering from having been brutally abducted by Comanches who slaughtered his family, sets his life on a new and surprising course by visiting a county fair. There he agrees to try to pull out an ax that has been deeply imbedded in an anvil and that has defied the efforts of the strongest men in Texas.
Jimmy's astonishing and triumphant achievement at the fair changes his life. With the prize money he follows his dream, recruits cowboys, puts together a herd of cattle, and drives them across the plains to a deep canyon, where he intends to make his own private kingdom. Goodnight's luck and courage bring him an early and gratifying success. Above all, they bring him the comradeship of his men, and the friendship of a lifetime, when he meets Jack Loving, who is everything Jimmy Goodnight isn't -- handsome, graceful, a naturally gifted horseman, and a great dancer. Together, Goodnight and Loving make a formidable team, and their relationship is one of complete trust, the bedrock on which Goodnight's growing empire rests, on a seemingly solid foundation -- until a woman appears with whom both men fall in love.
All goes well until Goodnight makes a fearful, vengeful, and unforgiving enemy, takes on an Eastern big businessman as a partner -- and falls in love with his beautiful daughter Revelie, and fails to notice the growing mutual attraction bet-ween Revelie and Loving...
Compulsively readable, cleverly interweaving Western history (Loving and Goodnight are both based on real people in the historical West) and Arthurian legend, Code of the West is a powerful love story, a sweeping adventure, a great "Western" -- and just the kind of unexpected, unusual, and hugely successful work of fiction that has sealed Aaron Latham's reputation.
In a captivating barnburner of romance, adventure and gruesome frontier justice, Latham takes the mythical legend of King Arthur and Camelot and dresses it in buckskin, sweat and cow manure to create a sweeping saga of three decades of Texas cowboy history. From the 1860s to the 1880s, Jimmy Goodnight runs the Home Ranch, a cattle empire hidden in a canyon paradise. One-eyed Jimmy is gifted; he's a natural leader of men and he's able to talk with animals. Ever since he pulled an ax out of an anvil at a county fair, the ax has been his weapon of choice, and Jimmy is mighty handy with it as he smashes thumbs and skulls to bring law and order to his empire. When Jimmy and his knightly cowboys rescue a young woman from a gang of outlaws, he is smitten by her beauty and charm. Revelie Sanborn marries the ax-wielding cattle baron, and they begin a short-lived life of bliss. Jimmy's best friend, Jack Loving (read Lancelot), takes advantage of incipient marital discord, and his betrayal begins a spiral of lust and murder that no one can stop. Throw in a bloodthirsty gang of foul-smelling outlaws; a violent cowboy rebellion; a bitter, long-lost son; and dark secrets from Jimmy's past; and this yarn picks up speed and intensity like a runaway herd of cattle. In melding ancient legends with our cowboy mythos (and a few real-life historical details), the narrative is far more sophisticated than a typical good vs. evil western; indeed, almost everyone has a mean streak, a powerful passion and a finger on the trigger. Latham, a versatile writer whose novels and screenplays (Urban Cowboy; Perfect) have earned him critical acclaim and an Oscar, carries off this rollicking tale with class and style.