Land of Wolves: The Return of Lincoln’s Bodyguard
By TJ Turner
This is a book of revisionist history that posits what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had lived? What if he was protected by a bodyguard and the assassin failed? The characters are made up of some real people and some fictional.
The setting is 1874 in Tennessee. Lincoln (called the Old Man in this novel) is living with the bodyguard, Joseph Foster, and his wife, Molly Ferguson. There is a group after them, called the Consortium. It is composed of rich men who want to get the president impeached – meaning President Andrew Johnson. The Consortium is rich because they are all industrial barons who use free child labor in their factories, which is allowed under the “Draft.” In this version, Lincoln did not die in office; he resigned. Joseph’s daughter, Aurora, is missing, and he suspects the Consortium had something to do with it, so he heads to New York to look for her. Here, he encounters a gang called the Black Murphy’s, and an Army General named Dorsey. Joseph is forced to flee from the bad guys and he and Molly head west. Here, they encounter more real historical characters, like Jim Bridger and Sitting Bull. The group goes to the land of the Lakota, where they are captured by Rain-in-the-Face and his warriors. They live with the Lakota and learn of their plight over time. But, even here, Dorsey has followed them. Battles ensue, in which General Custer is killed, three years before he died in reality. In this version of history, this sets up a plot where Lincoln can go before Congress to try to get help for the Lakota and force the government to honor its treaties with the tribe. The government agrees and creates a protection act to protect the tribe’s lands.
This version of history is much preferable to the real one in many ways. I enjoyed reading this book and speculating about what could have been. For this reason, historical fiction is interesting. As an imaginary exercise, you can dream up all sorts of scenarios about real characters and come up with totally alternate histories.
The characters were well-rounded and you don’t really need to have read the first book in order to learn about them. We get some glimpses of what happened previously, enough to make this a stand-alone novel. The settings are described well and the atmosphere is easy to imagine from the author’s descriptions. The bad guys are thoroughly evil and despicable. The pace of the story is just right. There is plenty of action all the way through.
Overall, I give this book a high rating for originality and characterization. The story is well thought out and written well. It makes a good solid read and is entertaining enough to hold a reader’s interest. I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.