North to the Rails Audiobook
By: Louis L’Amour
Narrated by: Michael Crouch
Published by Random House Audio 4/09/2019
7 hrs and 13 mins
North to the Rails Audiobook Sample
North to the Rails Audiobook
A young man comes west to buy cattle to sell at a profit to the demands of the eastern markets, but right when he is supposed to be meeting with a rancher about his cattle, he finds himself confronted with a drunk cowboy who picks a fight over accidentally bumping into each other. Tom doesn’t carry a gun and refuses the challenge over such a little thing and rides away rather than get caught up in a gun battle. He has no idea that in the eyes of men in the west, he’s just shown himself a coward rather than a man of sense. He can’t get men to sell to him or get men to ride with him on a cattle drive so he is forced to make a bet with the cunning French Williams. French and his men will throw in and help drive the herd north to the railroad cars, but Tom Chantry has to be there at the end or French gets the whole herd profit. Tom learns that French is not opposed to helping him lose when the first man French hires is the one Tom backed down from in that saloon.
But French’s tricks are only one of Tom’s concerns when he has rustlers, Kiowa, and someone else who wants him dead after the herd. Oh, and then there are the men still out there who killed his pa when he was young and think he’s back out west for revenge now that he’s a man. When this much money is at stake, people will do a great deal to get it.
I am always impressed how the author writes a compelling character like Tom and surround him with several other fascinating characters. Tom comes into his own in more ways than one during this cattle drive. Seeing his father brought home and shot up bad from an ambush, left an indelible mark on him and pair that with his mother’s hatred of the west the whole time she lived there and Tom was a tenderfoot easterner when he encounters the tough code of the western frontier right away. But, that was the easier part. Then he faces derision, shunning, and men set to bully him because they saw his actions as weak. Tom was not weak nor incapable. He remembers a great deal of what his dad taught him and sees it all in a new light now that he is a man and facing hard and dangerous circumstances. It becomes obvious the way Tom works the cattle drive, faces troublemakers, his conduct with the war-like Kiowa, and his determination to see this venture to the end that he is far from a coward and, in the end, he is far from the tenderfoot with high ideals who came west and didn’t get that evil men were not going to play fair.
Like other books by this author, Tom becomes surrounded by a colorful cast of characters. Some choose to ignore the talk and work with him, others come to respect him after he earns it, others are obvious mean and hard enemies. But, then there are a few characters that are shades of gray and keep the reader curious what their end game is. I enjoy getting to know the characters as much as the frontier setting that comes alive under the author’s pen.
I did have one niggle. There is a woman introduced early on. It took a while for things to unveil with where she fit into it all. Her presence confused me. Not her existence or what she was doing in the present situation. That was fine. It was when the story was finished that I was left wondering some why questions that never get answered. How does she come to be in the area when the person she has connections with is from a great distance off? How does she discover the news of the cattle drive and have time to arrange all the things that she did? And, where her animosity came from? One or two sentences of explanation would have sufficed. I felt like the author was trying to be so mysterious about her, but never came back to fill in the dots for the reader/listener. But, other than that, the rest was riveting in Tom’s gritty cattle drive adventure and the big showdown.
All in all, this was a wonderful blend of western adventure, mystery, and coming of age that I can heartily recommend to those who want a rousing good listen in a western setting.
North to the Rails Audiobook Narration
Michael Crouch is not a new to me narrator. In fact, I recently enjoyed a very different genre and book he narrated so I can vouch for his versatility. I thought he did well telling young Tom’s story with a smooth and thoughtful eastern voice, but also voiced the gruffer or more casual western accent, too. There were a few female voices that he did great. He caught the pace of the story and the tone during each type of scene whether it was Tom pondering western ways or a stampede that is life and death. I would definitely listen to more of his work.
Louis L’Amour was an American author. L’Amour’s books, primarily Western fiction, remain enormously popular, and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death all 101 of his works were in print (86 novels, 14 short-story collections and one full-length work of nonfiction) and he was considered “one of the world’s most popular writers”. Website: http://www.louislamour.com/
Michael Crouch is an Audie Award-winning actor based in New York City. His audiobook narration has earned multiple Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine and Best of the Year listings from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. He can also be heard on national commercials, cartoons, video games, and the animé series Pokémon XY and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V.