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Blood Kin

Texas Tech Univerity Press (2004)


ISBN 0-89672-530-8 - $27.95 (hardcover)

Isaac Webb, a young Texas ranger, struggles for decency amid the violence of the Texas Revolution and the early days of the Republic. Still in his teens when he joins Captain Noah Smithwick, Isaac discovers in himself extraordinary mettle in battle and a fierce yearning for young war widow Catherine Druin.

But victory over Mexico brings neither the new Republic nor Isaac the peace and stability he fought for. Escalating Indian depredations forestall Isaac's hopes to work the farmland he's cleared near Bastrop and to marry Catherine. Ordered by Sam Houston to accompany Smithwick on a mission of peace, Isaac befriends Looks Far, a young Comanche warrior at whose side he fends off Waco attacks and with whom he learns to grieve.

As the Texans' hunger for land and the Comanches' penchant for raiding imperil Isaac's friendship and thwart peace negotiations, Isaac returns to Bastrop prepared for the worst. But when his future with Catherine is further confounded by her father's blind hatred of the Comanches, and his own commitment to the indomitable Inez, a Lipan captive, Isaac must also confront a brutal dilemma and a painful secret.

"Chappell's novel reads the way a John Ford western unfolds on the screen: good folks, hard choices, humor, tragedy, and heartbreaking humanity played out against the backdrop of the great American West. A wonderful book for readers who like westerns that leave formula in the dust."

  • Booklist starred review

"Henry Chappell's second novel...shows why he is a Texas writer to watch."

  • Si Dunn, Dallas Morning News

"Chappell's writing is reminiscent of Larry McMurtry's latest Berrybender series. His characters are realistic; the attention to detail puts readers in the scene...For those who love to immerse themselves in the past, whether reading history or historical fiction, this book is a great diversion and passage back to another age."

  • Mary Margaret McAllen Amberson, San Antonio Express-News

"Henry Chappell proves again that he is one of the most authentic new voices of the Texas frontier. Blood Kin, an even stronger novel than Chappell's masterful The Callings, is gritty, realistic, and unforgettable."

  • Johnny D. Boggs, author of Lonely Trumpet

"Chappell's Blood Kin meets its own challenge in being a richer and more readable novel than its superb predecessor."

  • Bill Garwood, True West

"Chappell depicts this period of turmoil fairly, allowing his characters to show the prejudices on all sides. Blood Kin is an absorbing, but realistic introduction to the early history of the Texas Republic."

  • Cindy Vallar, The Historical Novels Review

"Whether one judges Blood Kin by the strength and complexity of its characters, its strong sense of place, or its beautiful writing, Chappell has another winner."

  • Doris Meredith, Roundup

“[Blood Kin] does what art demands: It makes us both think and feel.”

  • Michael Berryhill, Texas Parks & Wildlife