Beyond the Smoke by western writer Terry W. Burns is historical fiction set in the American Wild West. When Bryan Wheeler’s parents are killed by Comanche raiders, he wonders how he will survive without them. With a few supplies, two guns, and his mother’s Bible, he sets out to create a new life for himself in the western wilderness. During his travels he meets new friends, including an eccentric trader, a Texas ranger, and an orphan girl. But enemies lurk in the West, too, and in this Christian fiction novel these enemies force Bryan to make difficult choices to survive.
Beyond the Smoke is the winner of the 2009 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Publishing of Western Media. This award is presented each year to books that showcase excellent content, demonstrate high production values, and celebrate the history and spirit of the American cowboy.
Rated 5 out of
I could not put it down!Beyond the Smoke is a fiction story about a young man named Bryan Wheeler, a sixteen-year-old cowboy and his adventures in the Wild West. While on an Oregon-bound wagon train, everyone is murdered by Comanche raiders including Bryan’s parents and he is the only one who survives. He is alone with only a few supplies, two guns, and his mother’s Bible. Bryan not knowing the way to Oregon decides to go back the way the wagon train came. Bryan kept-up a fast pace on foot. He put as much distance between him and the raiders as he could, and then all of a sudden he heard hoof beats behind him. It was a mounted brave with a spear in his hand. Bryan dodged the spear and yanked the brave off the horse, but to Bryan’s great surprise, he was no brave at all! He was only a Comanche boy with a stick in his hand. Bryan wrestled the boy, tied him-up, and rode away on the boy’s horse one of the horses the Comanche had stolen in the raid.
Late in the evening, Bryan spotted a campfire in the distance. As he got closer to the encampment, he was greeted by a man pointing a gun at him. His name was Fat Jack. He had bought an Indian girl named “Morning Star” from some trappers. She was his slave and Fat Jack treated her poorly. Even though Bryan could have gotten away from Fat Jack several times, he stayed with them until he had a chance to rescue Morning Star.
Bryan sets out again by himself and meets Professor Harold Donovan and Carol Sue his ward. The Professor is a graduate from Harvard and he produces and sells herbal tonics along with other household goods. Bryan falls in with them, and soon becomes a partner in the Professor’s business. One of the many places they stop to sell the Professor’s merchandise is at a little town called “Turkey Creek”. “Turkey Creek” might sound like a nice town, but the town’s folk were not nice at all. When a supervisor for the orphanage outside of town hears that Carol Sue is an orphan under the age of sixteen, he lodges a complaint and Sherriff Treadwell puts Carol Sue into the custody of the orphanage. The Professor comes-up with a plan to snatch Carol Sue away from the representative of the orphanage. While the representative was taking Carol Sue to the orphanage, Bryan follows the Professor’s plan, he captures Carol Sue, and they escape to Texas. Just after they cross over the border into Texas, they meet Texas Ranger Clay Davison. He saves them from being attacked by Sherriff Treadwell and his posse not once but twice.
As Bryan and Carol Sue are heading back to pick-up the Professor, Comanche raiders attacked them, but the Comanche chief stops the attack, Because the Indian boy that Bryan had wrestled with, but didn’t kill was the chief’s son and Morning Star who Bryan rescued from Fat Jack was the chief’s daughter. Finally, Bryan and Carol Sue find the Professor and the three of them head to “Clarendon”, a friendly town where they can expand their business.
This book was well written and easy to read. I would recommend this book to others because it teaches that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose”.