This story takes place in 1837. Twelve year old Thomas Walker resides in New York. His father, a salesman by trade, catches wind of a new invention by Samuel Colt. Calling it the "Improved Revolving Gun," the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company signs on the marketer as commission work. Excited to lift the financial burden off his family, the duo begin to travel west bringing along a wooden replica and a dozen of the original guns. As the journey becomes farther from home, danger and risk generates a focus on their campaign. The road to fortune becomes paved with treacherous jeopardy. The duo soon fall prey to the wickedness and evil of violent bullies. Thomas finds himself alone, and requiring the impossible task of venturing on his way home. An unlikely savior in the form of a rum-drinking, hell-raising, ex-militia ranger crosses paths with the young boy. The pair creates a mission of their own full of vengeance, bloodshed, and survival that only the Wild West can conjure.
Robert Lautner's Road To Reckoning is a historical fiction ride through nineteenth century America. The reader is invited to participate in a westward expedition full of wonderfully written gritty characters and unprotected paths that burden a tense purpose upon the plot. The descriptions of the environment enrich the plot and provide the abrasiveness needed as the background for the inhabitants. Each chapter contributes a cliff hanging quality that ministers a craving for the next portion of fiction. These combinations result in a constant western frontier feel that doesn't slow down. Fans of this brand will revel in the talent Lautner obviously has, however this particular novel comes with a strong recommendation for readers of all genres. The tone is set with the opening quotation "the Lord made man. But Sam Colt made them equal," then proceeds to provide all the ingredients that are required for an entertaining book you truly can't put down.
— Mike, Albuquerque
“Remarkable…A novel about a young man reaching for manhood after the killing of his father and about the invention and selling of Col. Samuel Colt’s revolving pistol, and the way it changed the West. Those who love True Grit will love this” (Michael Korda, author of Hero).
One does not travel the path to vengeance alone
Twelve -year -old Thomas Walker has never left New York City. His father, a traveling salesman hoping to earn money by selling Samuel Colt’s recent invention, the “Improved Revolving Gun,” takes young Thomas with him on the road. But even the world’s first true revolver cannot save them from danger, and what starts as an adventure soon turns into a nightmare.
Thomas soon finds himself alone, and must rely on his own wits, courage, and determination, as well as a wooden replica of the Colt revolver, to protect himself. Luckily, an encounter with a surly ex-ranger, Henry Stands, leads to an improbable partnership, and the two set out in perilous pursuit of vengeance. That is, if they can escape the thieves who lurk around each trail, river, and road—and who have already stolen so much from Thomas.
In the spirit of The Sisters Brothers and True Grit, this spare, elegant, and emotionally resonant story conveys, through a boy’s eyes, a beautiful father-son story, as well as the fascinating history of how the birth of the revolver changed the course of violence in America. Road to Reckoning offers a window into the history of the American West and the heart of a boy yearning for love.
About the Author
Robert Lautner was born in Middlesex, England, in 1970. Before becoming a writer he owned his own comic bookstore, and was a wine merchant, photographic consultant, and recruitment consultant. He lives on the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales, in a wooden cabin with his wife and children.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year
“[Road to Reckoning] is drawing inevitable comparisons to Charles Portis’ True Grit. . . . What the two books most have in common is elegant writing and an air of historical authenticity. . . . Unforgettable characters give the book an unexpected staying power.”
“Lautner’s ear for dialogue and eye for detail [are] so remarkable. . . . We’re indebted to Lautner for a dandy story.”
“A novel you won’t soon forget. . . Provides a harrowing glimpse into a period of America that history books have tended to neglect.”
“Lautner knows how to a turn a phrase, and his novel is a delight to read, to pause and go back, and read again just to feel the flavor of the words as they move forward off the tongue. I am interested in seeing what he writes next.”
“A well-written literary novel. . . . I could picture the events happening as if I were watching a movie. . . . [Lautner] has shown the land and people of early 19th-century pioneer America with historical accuracy. It will probably be on my list of the top 10 books I’ve read this year.”
“Tailor-made for the movies (think True Grit). . . . Lautner’s swiftly moving tale reanimates a forgotten era and location in American history.”
“A thrilling, violent, dangerous piece of old-fashioned storytelling, that is also humane and unshowily moving.”
“If you love famous westerns like All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy or Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry you must read Robert Lautner’s Road to Reckoning.”
"Lautner's is a tale of guns and grit that will remind most readers of Charles Portis' modern classic True Grit, with Henry Stands a stand-in for Rooster Cogburn. None of this is to discount the frontier charm of Road to Reckoning or the appealing voice of its protagonist, Thomas, a worthy successor to Mattie Ross."
“Lautner impresses . . . with a crackling coming-of-age revenge tale set in the lawless wilderness of pre-Civil War Pennsylvania. . . . Thomas recounts these formative events of his youth through the hindsight of adulthood with wisdom that makes him an appealing narrator with a knack for a poetic turn of phrase. The descriptions of the wilderness and cities of 19th century Pennsylvania feel particularly alive and specific. . . . The story is a comforting pleasure with many rewards.”
“An interesting tale from an unusual era . . . Great stuff. Lautner manages character maturation sans the usual sentiment associated with wide-eyed narration. It’s also a superior historical novel offering an unexpectedly keen window to a dim corner of American history.”
"Twisty, gripping. . . Robust. . . Wears its meticulous research lightly."
"This quiet triumph of a novel, a sad and impeccably nuanced tale set against a finely drawn landscape of early pioneer America, left me just amazed and delighted; it will surely establish Robert Lautner as a storyteller of the first order." — Simon Winchester, author of The Men Who United the States and The Professor and the Madman
"Robert Lautner has written a compelling, poetic page-turner that really impresses with its precision and heart. . . . In Thomas Walker and Henry Stands he has created characters who live in the memory long after the book is closed. In their relationship I read hope, and honor: a boy seeking his father and a man finding the father within him." — Stephen Kelman, author of Pigeon English
"Not a single needless word in Road to Reckoning, a beautiful gem of a novel, exquisitely written and swiftly plotted. Featuring an unforgettable character on a hero's journey, it packs an old-fashioned emotional wallop." — Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House
"Road to Reckoning is a rare feat of storytelling. Robert Lautner has created something truly wonderful in the character of Thomas Walker—whose steady, strong voice I won't soon forget—and the vivid world he inhabits. This is a literary thriller in the best sense, simultaneously gritty and tender, rousing and lyrical." — Silas House, author of A Parchment of Leaves and Clay's Quilt
“Remarkable … A novel about a young man reaching for manhood after the killing of his father and about the invention and selling of Col. Samuel Colt's revolving pistol, and the way it changed the West. Those who love True Grit will love this." — Michael Korda, author of Hero
"As simply told tales go, this is one of the best. It shares with its hero a plain eloquence and a determination and a grace rare in the world and in books. Give Road to Reckoning to every man you know and they'll thank you for it.” — Joshua Ferris, author of The Unnamed