Song of Eagles, by William W. Johnstone, is a Western that focuses on the fictional Falcon MacCallister. The book begins with Falcon moseying along looking for work. He is not hard up for money; he just wants to have a little job to keep him busy. His children are back East in school and he has nothing much to do at the moment (his wife is dead).
Falcon goes to visit his father’s friend, John Chisum. Chisum’s ranch is not far from the little town of Lincoln, situated in the New Mexico Territory. If you know your Old West history, readers, then you have some idea of what is coming next.
While at Chisum’s place, Falcon witnesses a youth named Billy Bonney arrive. Like Falcon, Bonney is also looking for work, but he hopes to get a job at a ranch. Chisum has no place for him, but directs the lad to his friend John Tunstall, whose spread is not far away.
At the same time, Chisum directs Falcon to nearby Fort Sumner. He does this because Falcon enjoys playing poker – a game most believe is won by luck but which MacCallister wins by his skill at reading his opponents. On entering the town, Falcon finds the local saloon and asks the owner to let him have a share in the place. The older man agrees to the bargain and, while he goes to visit some family for a few months, Falcon runs the business.
Not long after Falcon and Bonney settle in, Tunstall is murdered and the Lincoln County War erupts. Falcon maintains his friendship with Billy throughout the conflict. He is also never caught when he surreptitiously aids the persecuted cattlemen, especially John Chisum, during the “war.” Throughout the book he keeps the saloon going and aids Billy the Kid/Billy Bonney with advice and/or a place to stay every once in a while.
Song of Eagles is a great story. To start children off with a love of Western fiction, this book may not be the best. But Johnstone’s story is historically accurate and a fun read, and it has an interesting twist or two at the end. You can while away a few afternoons reading it.
Well, partners, time for me to ride off. I will see you around!
The Mithril Guardian