The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out, crawling at first, across hundreds of miles of uncharted American frontier. Based on a true story, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.
I'll start by saying this: this book is so out of my normal genres of reading. I have never read a book like it and, after finishing The Revenant, I want to read more like it.
I read this book because I wanted to see the film but, before I see films based on books, I like to read the book first if I can. I ummed and ahhed about buying it but then I thought since I don't know if I like it should I leave it? Then I was lent a copy of the book, went for it and I am so glad I did!
On the face of it, I should have known I would enjoy this book, I have always loved history and I studied the history of the American West at school (albeit later than this). As soon as I opened the book up and started reading I couldn't stop. The descriptions in this book are perfect, you really get transported into another time and knowing that this book is a fictional account of something that happened to a very real man made it even more interesting.
Post the bear attack and following Fitzgerald and Bridger's departure, I really didn't see how Hugh Glass would follow his path for revenge let alone survive. I ate up the story and, unlike some period books, this was a remarkably easy read. We get to see various viewpoints throughout the story and that stopped it being boring, after all, reading about one man's lone journey through the American West told from solely his point of view would have become incredibly boring, incredibly quickly.
Hugh Glass' back story makes for interesting reading, I couldn't believe the things he had seen and been involved in and ultimately survived. As I read on I started to believe the man could set out to do what he sought to: seek revenge on the men who betrayed him. Now, I don't know how much of that backstory is true, but regardless, I enjoyed it and it helped to develop an interesting character.
In fact, all the characters are interesting and all lend their own input to the story and your view of life back then. Having previously studied the West, I had some inkling but the period I covered was post this. Life for these guys was so damn hard and they had to fight tooth and nail for their survival while doing their jobs.
I guess the reason that this book wasn't a five star was the ending, it just felt so anticlimactic after the build up and grit and determination that Hugh showed. I accepted how things ended between him and Bridger as he was only a boy under the command of a much older and intimidating man. It was the ending with Fitzgerald that didn't settle with me.
All the way through this journey, from the early days when he was helpless and crawling to his final destination, to the healing help he received, to the Fort and his journey with others he lost, Hugh never gave up sight of his end goal, and I felt robbed with the way it ended.
I did like how the author included a post chapter so you could see who in this book was real and what had happened to them (as far as historians know), it was interesting to see how similar stories could end in such conflicting ways.
Now to find something out there that is similar to this to read!