This exciting historical novel is about mountain man and trapper Hugh Glass, who is working for the newly formed American Fur Company, founded in 1823 and owned by Jacob Astor when beaver pelts were worth serious cash. For men like Glass, there’s serious pressure to produce pelts and a profit for the young business—even it if means entering the land of the hostile Ariakra tribe.
The suspense is tight from the opening scene, when Hugh is attacked by a mama grizzly protecting her cubs. The wounds nearly kill him, but he lives, mostly thanks to his will and a strong desire to seek revenge on the two comrades who abandoned him and took his knife and rifle, leaving him defenseless. To survive, Glass has to battle hostile Indians, starvation and extreme weather. He even fights a ravenous wolf pack for a share of a buffalo.
The Revenant (which is soon to be a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio) gives us a vivid portrait of brutal men, living in a brutal time, in a brutal land. Some sweetness is provided in the character of a teenaged boy, a fictionalized Jim Bridger, one of the best known mountain explorers of that time. Michael Punke’s visceral prose feels authentic to the era and is full of compelling historical detail: This is Western writing at its best. Readers are immersed in a landscape that had only recently been explored by whites for the first time, thanks to the famed Lewis and Clark expedition. This thrilling book is easy to read, but hard to put down.