Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
The Daybreakers was the first of the seventeen Sackett novels L’Amour published, and it remains one of the best. In it he allows Tyrel Sackett, age eighteen in 1866 when the story begins, to narrate his own adventures in his own, intermittently folksy way. In Tennessee, Tye kills a man who was trying to shoot his unarmed brother Orrin, and the two Sacketts evade the law (typically thickheaded here) by heading west—for Abilene, Kansas, and then Santa Fe (in the New Mexico Territory).
Between dangerous cattle drives and much derring-do, the brothers fall in love—Orrin unfortunately, with Laura, the selfish daughter of a Yankee land-swindler named Jonathan Pritts; Tye blessedly, with Drusilla Alvarado, the beautiful granddaughter of an endangered Spanish land-grant holder. L’Amour loves to send his heroes far and wide, even as they long for homes to call their own. So Tye must go through experiences in the Idaho goldfields before becoming a lawman in Mora, a little town northeast of Santa Fe. Orrin is already the marshal there and quickly becomes a disaffected husband and a budding politician. Tye remains the heroic central character of The Daybreakers when, in the last chapters, he helps to rout several gunmen hired by Pritts to destroy the Alvarados, saves his brother Orrin’s life, and marries Drusilla.
It is not the plot but the assembly of more than sixty characters that makes this novel a valuable Western...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
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