In terms of internal chronology, this is the second in Larry McMurtry’s four-book Lonesome Dove saga, coming just after Dead Man’s Walk and just before Lonesome Dove itself. It was the fourth novel in the series McMurtry wrote and published, after Dead Man’s Walk.
I found Dead Man’s Walk disappointing. I felt that the humor of Lonesome Dove, wry and earthy, had gotten a bit formulaic and that the incidents of the tale, though clearly inspired by historical fact, strained too hard for mythic effects.
McMurtry got back on track with Comanche Moon, however. It’s a rip-roaring adventure, both romantic and harrowing, whose humor and narrative feel authentic, true to McMurtry’s vision of the Western frontier and of the characters who inhabited it.
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It doesn’t have the grand emotional architecture of Lonesome Dove — its narrative wanders around a bit towards the end — but it has a grand theme that ties it all together . . . the passing of the traditional Comanche way of life and thus the way of life of the Texas Rangers who were once mostly concerned with fighting the Comanches.
The Rangers and the Comanches slowly become ghostly mirror images of each other as the world moves on in ways they aren’t prepared to accept.
I can’t say that Comanche Moon equals, or even approaches, the majestic perfection of Lonesome Dove — it would take quite a book to do that — but it’s a damn good novel, humane, especially with regard to its Indian characters, moving and consistently entertaining.