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The Ohio River Trilogy Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Ohio River Trilogy Books

Betty Zane (1903)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Spirit of the Border (1906)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Last Trail (1909)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The Ohio River novel series is a wonderful series of historical fiction, romance, adult fiction, adventure, western, classical, and American Revolution stories. It was penned by a reputed American novelist of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, Zane Grey. The series is comprised of just three books, released between 1903 and 1909. This series is inspired by the adventures and life events of the great-great-aunt of Zane Grey, Betty Zane. All the novels of this series feature events from the life of Betty Zane and also some fictional sequences that Zane Grey added for literary purposes. The first novel, Betty Zane, proved to be a great success across the United States. It helped Zane Grey to launch his career with a bang and become a master of Western and frontier adventures.

The next two books also achieved worldwide success and allowed the author to establish himself as a noteworthy writer of such novels. There are several sequences in the plots that feature events from the time of the American Revolution. Zane Grey has shown how Betty Zane showed character at crucial times and went on to become the heroine of an important battle that was going on in parallel to the Revolutionary war. In the later novels, Zane Grey continues to depict Betty Zane’s life events and her indulgences during the testing times of the war. While writing and publishing the books, Zane Grey was too proud to present himself as the direct descendent of Betty Zane. He showed how important her role was at the time of America’s struggle for freedom.

As the novels went on to reach out to a large number of readers in American and abroad, Zane Grey’s popularity continued to increase. A large number of the audience liked the books and appreciated his efforts in telling the true story of a strong, visionary woman. Many critics also gave their honest opinions about the books and praised the character of Betty Zane along with all the secondary ones. The close friends and several fellow literary acquaintances of Zane Grey also applauded his work and appreciated his style of storytelling. They gave genuinely positive reviews on various literary platforms and helped the novels to achieve further success.

The debut book of The Ohio River series written by author Zane Grey is entitled ‘Betty Zane’. It was originally released in 1903 and then re-released in 2006 by the Hard Press publication. This book tells the story of some events that culminate in the last phase of the American War of Revolution. The plot depicts a battle in which 200 Redcoats from Detroit, which is under the control of the Britishers, and 4 thousand Shawnee Indians attack a small town called Ford Henry, located on the western frontier. A heroine emerges out from this battle in the form of a spunky, beautiful, young frontier girl, who is none other than Betty Zane. Zane Grey has set this book in the region of Virginia-Ohio. He has based this novel on family traditions and historical references of his own family.

The main focus of the story is Betty Zane, who is a real-life antecedent of Zane Grey. Zane has mentioned how his great-great-aunt fought the British and Indian forces along with her family members. Her efforts were meant for the prevention of wiping out revolutionary colonists at the hands of those forces during the rise of the western American civilization. The book’s events take place mainly in the period of the year 1782. It tells true accounts of the courageous and heroic efforts of Betty Zane in saving her family from a deadly attack. Zane Grey seems to have done a terrific job with the writing part. He has given it a compelling narrative with fair and relatively well-described plots. There are also certain elements that make this book look like it is from that time of the era.

There are condescending remarks towards the female characters and also dehumanizing terms used for the characters depicting Indian forces. Occasionally, readers get to witness flowery and romantic, which is particularly seen in the sequence involving Betty Zane and the 2 men who fall in love with her. Zane has done a fantastic job of conveying the frontier’s grittiness and bringing his great-great-aunt to vivid life. Overall, this book is quite charming to read, and there are things in it suitable for all kinds of readers. This is why critics have labeled it as a must-read for all those who want to know about the lesser-known heroes and heroines of the revolutionary war of America.

The second volume of the series is known as ‘The Spirit of the Border’. It was published by the Banner of Truth publication in 1981 after its first release in 1906. This novel opens by mentioning that the revolutionary war is about to come to an end. However, the violence in the regions near the frontier has only accelerated. In this book, Zane has described how the Indian forces were incited by the notorious Girty brothers to carry out massacres in large numbers. When one such massacre takes place in a village called Village of Peace, its residents decide to take matters in their own hands and give the Girty brothers a taste of their own medicine.

The Christian utopian settlement of the village is almost destroyed, forcing the survivors to go after the culprits and bring them to justice through their own hands. An important character depicted in the novel is Joe Downs, who goes in the west direction from Virginia and gets caught up in violence in the border country. Joe’s twin brother, Jim, joins him. Jim also travels west along with the 2 sisters of a preacher companion. All four of them represent the Moravian Mission. The book doesn’t end on a happy note as it is seen that the protagonists face the terror of the people from the border country.

Joe gets killed along with his Indian life partner by a white man. One of the sisters gets raped and killed, while the other is also almost raped. Jim somehow manages to save his life, although he gets some serious injuries. The climax shows the brutal massacre of several defenseless missionaries of Christian Indians, which is inspired by a real event that happened in 1783. As the victims take shelter in a building, they are surrounded and slaughtered brutally. It was said at that time that a total of 96 innocent people had lost their lives in the massacre. An optimistic note in the ending shows that Jim relocates to Fort Henry with the other sister, whom he marries and settles down.

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