Four star review, originally posted here on December 31, 2017.
** spoiler alert ** For me, this was basically the book version of The Revenant, meaning it makes me realize what a total pansy I am, complaining about the cold on my 30 minute evening dog walk when these 19th century badasses were off trudging through chest-high snow for months and eating moccasins to survive. This is a fantastic adventure tale, with super crazy stuff happening in every chapter. Some of it you see coming before you even pick up the book (for example, gee, I wonder if they might have some trouble crossing the Rockies?), but there are still plenty of surprises, for example…
THESE ARE SPOILERS: stumbling upon a random American teenager in the middle of nowhere, cartoonishly evil sea captains who abandon and/or kills his men for no reason, hundreds of people getting blown up Ridley Scotts style, and a pregnant lady with her knee-high children who are 8 million times tougher and more badass than the supposed rugged mountain men they are accompanying.
My only real issue with the book is that it was nearly impossible to keep track of the 8 gajillion characters, and all of the stories got jumbled and ran together for me. The author tries to help this by reestablishing the scene every time we return to a character/story, but for me this just came off as tediously repetitive and not particularly effective of helpful.
Still, a truly fascinating story about a piece of history with which I was previously completely unfamiliar. Educational, engaging, and makes me so happy I live in a world where I can do things like “go inside and order delivery” when I am cold and hungry.