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Berrybender Narratives Books In Order

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Publication Order of Berrybender Narratives Books

Sin Killer (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Wandering Hill (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
By Sorrow's River (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Folly and Glory (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Berrybender Narratives is a collection of Western novels written by Larry McMurtry. The American author is best known for ‘Lonesome Dove’.

+The Story

The Berrybender Narratives series has earned Larry McMurtry as many fans as it has critics. Audiences that appreciate the Berrybender books have praised him for reinventing the Western.

However, those literary circles that look down on the Berrybender tale believe that the series is drastically inferior in quality to the author’s earlier works and it proves that McMurtry’s skills have declined with the passing of time.

Even though the Berrybender Narratives series is told over four novels, the books are one singular story. In fact, McMurtry fans believe that it was a mistake to fracture the Berrybender Narratives into four pieces because the individual stories do not feel especially cohesive when they are read on their own.

It isn’t until one reads the Berrybender volume which combines all four books under the same cover that Larry McMurtry’s initial vision takes shape. Though, critics of the original four books are just as passionate in their dislike for the single volume.

The Berrybender series picks up in 1830. The Berrybenders are a family of wealthy English Aristocrats.

The Berrybenders come to America with the intention of making their way up the Missouri River. The untamed West is beginning to open up and while a multitude of feet are marching forth with fame and fortune in mind, the Berrybenders are just there to have a good time.

Largely spoilt and unaccustomed to the harsh realities of life, what should have been an entertaining journey filled with adventure and wonder takes on a dark turn as the Berrybender family is accosted by a whole host of challenges and obstacles.

From bandits and rogues to Indians and outlaws, the Berrybenders’ aristocratic background means nothing in the Wild West. And they quickly find that it will take more than proper manners and a polished accent to survive.

The premise of the Berrybender Narratives has all the makings of a grand adventure chockfull of righteous heroes that must face turmoil and emerge the stronger for it. And a lot of Larry McMurtry fans undertook the task of reading the Berrybender Narratives series certain that they were in for a grim, dramatic and probably action-heavy ride.

And that might explain why so many of those fans left these books disappointed. The Berrybender series is anything but conventional. The Berrybender family is as dysfunctional a unit as one can ever encounter in literature.

Their arrogance somehow blinds them to the peril that waits in Wild West. And even when the harsh reality of their situation sets in, when people begin to die and the fortunes of the Berrybenders dip drastically, the family seems unfazed.

Lord Berrybender, the Patriarch of the family is almost unrelenting in his determination to keep marching along their path into the West despite the hardships. A further exploration of his character reveals that his courage might be the work of mental illness and the drunken fog that frequently drives his actions.

Tasmin, who is the eldest daughter, takes center stage as the protagonist of the series. While Lord Berrybender, along with his wife, is indeed responsible for deciding the direction of the family, it is Tasmin’s story that readers are allowed to explore in extensive detail.

Tasmin isn’t the most likable of individuals in the beginning. And her utter disregard for her family’s well-being, this including the lives of her brothers and sisters, initially creates some confusion with regards to the intentions Larry McMurtry had in mind when he chose to write such a callous heroine.

However, as the Berrybender Narratives series progresses, it quickly becomes clear that Tasmin’s apathetic attitude is a trait that her entire family shares. The Berrybender family is almost sociopathic in its members’ determination to achieve their personal satisfaction regardless of the cost to everyone else.

McMurtry does not hold back here. These books are filled with sex, violence, gore and coarse language. The author seems to almost go out of his way to offend. There’s a distinct absence of overtly sympathetic characters.

Tasmin does undergo some sort of transformational journey but, at her core, the heroine pretty much stays the same.

McMurtry has been praised for his cast of quirky and humorous but pathetic characters, and a vivid portrayal of the Old West. McMurtry writes about stampeding Buffalos and rampaging Indians but it is the insane family at the center of this tale that people will remember.

+The Author

Larry McMurtry was born in 1936 in Texas. There are dozens of novels to his name, the most popular being ‘Lonesome Dove’ for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. The author has had the opportunity to see a number of his books receive movie adaptations.

+Sin Killer

The Berrybender family is so far from home. Rich, aristocratic, and English, the Berrybenders have no sane reason to be making their way up the Missouri River in 1830.

But that is exactly what they are doing. Lord Berrybender wants to see the untamed West and his family is coming along for the ride. The family is awed by the wonders that assault them in America, some of them quite majestic, most of them surprisingly savage.

Tasmin takes center stage as the eldest daughter of the Berrybender family. Tasmin’s attempts to separate from her fellow travelers bring her into contact with an Indian fighter called Jim Snow.

Jim is dirty, hairy, inarticulate and ignorantly brutal, and yet Tasmin not only falls in love with him but she makes it her goal to see the two of them married. And she has no intention of letting her family of idiots ruin her great romance.

+The Wandering Hill

The Berrybender family has faced harsh times since coming to America, and whatever remains of their party eventually arrives at a Yellowstone River trading post where they wish to rest.

However, life at the trading post is quite awful. The Indian attacks are disturbingly frequent, though that particular threat pales in comparison to the devastating winter.

Then there are all the boorish mountain men and a possible buffalo stamped. The Berrybender brood is in for some wild times.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Berrybender Narratives

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