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Arkansas Valley Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Arkansas Valley Books

Toward A New Beginning (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Uncertain Times (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shattered Dreams (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mustang Justice (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shiloh Ranch (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rails Along the Valley (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kindled Faith (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

“Arkansas Valley” is a series of Christian Western novels by California native R. William Rodgers. The first novel of the “Arkansas Valley” series was “Toward a New Beginning” that was first published in 2002 to be the first of the still popular and ongoing series. While he was born in a relatively urban town of California, Rodgers moved to Colorado in 1981 and draws much of the inspiration for his Westerns from his life there. Even as the series was his most popular it was not his first endeavor at writing as he started writing fiction in 1997 while he was vacationing in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. His desire to pursue a career in fiction writing was inspired by reading the novels of Al Lacy the Evangelist/Author. It was after his wife, friends and family loved his first draft so much, that he decided that he would be a writer after all. It was the experience of having his close family and friends read and love the characters and story lines of his draft that resulted in the novel “Toward A New Beginning” five years later. He credits Al Lacy with lighting the fire for writing Christian fiction in him when he picked his brain at lunch.

Since then she has published several more titles in the series, which has won several nominations including one for a Christy Award. This is quite an achievement given that “Toward A New Beginning” made history as the first self-published to win such a nomination. The novel which had an introduction by his mentor Al Lacy also won the Excellence in Christian Fiction Award in 2003. Since then he has written more than twenty-seven Christian Westerns that borrow a lot from historical persons and facts. While he loves to write Christian Westerns more than any other, Rodgers has also written about gold mining, the Civil War, Baseball and Adventure novels. Given that he was once a jet fighter mechanic and US Air Force veteran for a little over five years, aspects of his army life sometimes make their way into his fiction. He currently lives with his wife and five daughters in Widefield Colorado, from where he continues to write the “Arkansas Valley” series. When he is not writing, he drives a local school bus and asserts that it is indeed one of the toughest jobs pone can do.

The “Arkansas Valley” series of novels are Western novels that go far into the past to a time when the frontier of America was really the Wild West. It was a time when wagon trains and horses were the main means of transport and these always ran into several problems that were often complicated by the varied nature of antagonists and protagonists woven into the stories. Rodgers weaves stories full of character and spirit of the pioneers, most of which culminate in cliff hangers that are resolved at the beginning of the following novel in the series. Being Christian Westerns the novels expertly incorporate aspects of Christian faith without becoming preachy or forced unlike most of its contemporaries. The author writes of crusty characters who will weather anything that the Wild West throws at them through sheer determination born of faith in God and in the men they have fighting alongside them. Sticking as close as possible to historical realities, the “Arkansas Valley” series are some of the best historical Westerns that take into account the most minute of details including the landscape, the social norms, and structures and even the dialogue and songs of the time. They are overall enjoyable reads that keep up the thrills and action right from the beginning to the end.

“Toward A New Beginning” the first novel of the series is an excellent story of a man named Sam Bartlett that is a successful horse supplier in Independence era Missouri. Despite his success, he envies the many people he sees heading for the West and wants to join them. It is not long before he manages to convince his wife to pack up their bags, leave their profitable business, and together with their three year old son go into the vast unknown of the West. It turns out to be one of the most fun adventures they have ever had or even imagined. It is journey of survival and hardship that is punctuated by romance, courage, vengeance, water shortages, hunger, Native American raids, raging river crossings, clash of personalities, dangerous weather, and biblical principles. The travelers’ ability to protect themselves from all the dangers of the Wild West is tested to the limit as the Indians mercilessly attack and harass the wagons sometimes causing devastation on the weary traveler’s trains. At one time, four children are taken by the warriors, severely testing the spirit of the pioneers even as a handful of them volunteer to go try to rescue them. It does not get any better when the men are thoroughly beaten in their attempts at rescue forcing them to come back with nothing. It is a truly trying time as they do the unthinkable and continue on their journey even as they do their best to keep off the villages the Indians are known to inhabit. With hopes of being reunited with their loved ones fading every day, it is up to the women to cheer up the camp with beautiful songs of better days to come.

“Uncertain Times” the second novel of the series is a novel following the lives of pioneers Jay and Sam who have just got across the Great Plains. They have built their own place at the Bartlett Ranch but that is not the end of it as they still need to defend it. Full of determination, courage and hard work, they make progress establishing a livelihood for themselves and home, where Tom their young son can grow into adulthood. Through sheer resolve and faith in God, the three confront some of the worst odds trying to take root deep inside hostile Indian Territory. They not only manage to take root, but also become one of the most profitable horse rearing enterprises that will play a critical role in civilizing and settling the wide expanses of land full of savages that is the United States Southwest. However, the success is not without some significant losses to every member of the family including Tom, who loses his faith that he once held dear.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Arkansas Valley

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