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Creator / Louis L'Amour

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A Trope Codifier for The Western, Louis L'Amour note  (March 22, 1908 – June 10, 1988) wrote eighty-six novels and numerous other short stories over the course of his life. While Westerns were his preferred genre, he referred to all of his novels as "frontier stories" and wrote historical fiction set in other eras as well, plus the occasional thriller or fantasy.

Where other adventure writers can talk the talk, L'Amour walked the adventurer walk. At the age of fifteen he left home and began Walking the Earth, eventually becoming a merchant seaman and then serving with the United States Army in World War II, and at one point or another visited every continent except Antarctica.

He died of lung cancer on June 10, 1988. His autobiography, Education of a Traveling Man, was published posthumously.


Works by Louis L'Amour with their own pages:

Other works by Louis L'Amour contain examples of:

  • The Ace: Kilkenny is incredibly fast with a gun, can beat a very good boxer and is very intelligent.
  • Action Girl: Echo Sackett is just as badass as her nephews will become. Em Talon(nee-Sackett) is as well, being the mother of Milo Talon and a main character in Ride the Dark Trail and Judith Costello in The Skyliners.
  • Aerith and Bob: The Sackett brothers are William Tell, Orrin, Tyrel, Bob and Joe.
  • Airport Novel: His early books, but he grew out of it.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: Almost all his books were westerns, but towards the end of his life he branched out to other genres. The most obvious example is The Haunted Mesa, which is a Trapped in Another World Heroic Fantasy. Another is The Walking Drum, which is still historical fiction, but is about the Moorish Empire.
    • Last of the Breed is a (then) modern day escape from the Soviet Union.
    • Borden Chantry is a Murder Mystery where the protagonist is already married.
    • How The West Was Won is a Generational Saga about the Prescott family and his only novelization.
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  • Anti-Hero: A great deal of his protagonists fall into this category, sticking a whole lot closer to a code of honor (don't hit women, don't steal cattle, don't shoot a man in the back, etc.) than actual laws. It's rare that the protagonist isn't at least a Knight In Sour Armor.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: In The Walking Drum, Kerbouchard and Comtesse Suzanne are incognito in Kiev as brother and sister, meaning they must share a room at an inn. She defiantly tells him that she has a dagger and will kill him if he tries anything. Kerbouchard, who had no intentions of the sort, teases her about it, getting her even more worried, and then simply goes to sleep, knowing that while he's having a peaceful night's sleep, she'll be lying awake all night worrying and wishing he'd at least try so she could get some sleep. And yes, she's a little insulted in the morning that he didn't even consider it.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Quite a few characters in his books. Lance Kilkenny, Rafe Caradoc, William Tell Sackett...
  • Badass Crew: By the time of the third Kilkenny book, Kilkenny has quite a powerful group of friends.
  • Badass Family: The Sacketts. In Borden Chantry, one of the side characters, after seeing that Tyrel's brother Joe Sackett was murdered says that the titular marshal had better get the murder solved before the Sacketts level the town.
    • We get to see what happens when the Sackett family gets riled in The Sackett Brand when Tell's wife Ange gets murdered by the head of a large cattle ranch. About every named Sackett that appeared in any of the books shows up and they destroy the bad guys.
  • Being Good Sucks: In Sackett, Tell thinks this as he has to carry down a Mook, who had been trying to kill him, but had broken his leg down a mountain, while the mook is on a makeshift stretcher, with a woman, in a snowstorm with more bad guys chasing them. When they make it down, the mook is understandably impressed.
  • Black and White Morality: For the most part, bad guys are very bad, and innocent people are very good. However, his protagonists tend to be a lot more morally ambiguous.
  • Boom Town:
    • Tell Sackett founds one of these almost inadvertently in Sackett, as a cover for his more profitable gold strike some distance away.
    • In Fallon, the titular character starts a boomtown on top of a boomtown.
    • In The Iron Marshall it's pointed out several times that the town didn't exist just a year before.
    • In Bendigo Shafter, building a town is the whole point.
  • Byronic Hero: Some protagonists have this and a few that turn into antagonists, as well.
  • Changing of the Guard: Happens repeatedly in his generational saga about the Sackett family.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: see, e.g., The Daybreakers, Lando, The Lonely Men and Kiowa Trail. L'Amour's good girls become grown-up pioneer women and cut the cord with their fathers.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Kilkenny wears a black hat, black vest and black chaps, but is a hero, albeit a reluctant one.
  • Determined Widow: Mary Breydon in The Cherokee Trail.
    • Evie Teale from Conagher.
  • Dulcinea Effect: All the time. Most of the time the characters know their getting themselves into trouble over a pretty face.
  • Easy Amnesia: In The Man Called Noon, the protagonist gets this after being shot in the head (non-fatally, obviously) and falling out a window. All he has is his name (which someone else tells him), freakishly good skill with a gun, and hints that he's supposed to know where a massive hidden treasure is. The book is spent trying to retrace his tracks and figure out who he is, what he was trying to do, and who shot him in the first place... all without letting on to anyone else. In a bit of a reversal of Criminal Amnesiac, it turns out that Noon was actually a bad guy, although amnesia gave him a fresh start and he turns out to be good.
  • Femme Fatale: On occasion, although direct "sexiness" or any mention of sex at all is extremely rare. He will mention that they have "curves in all the right places".
  • Generational Saga: The Sacketts series follows the titular clan from medieval Ireland to colonial America to of course the Old West over 17 books. There's also books that follow the Talon and Chantry families (although both families eventually marry into the Sacketts), although those are much shorter series, with 4 Chantry novels(with 2 others with them as significant side characters in Ride the River and Over on the Dry Side) and 3 Talon novels, with another, Ride the Dark Trail having 3 Talons as significant side characters. All three families were to have more details and novels about them before Louis's untimely death.
  • Gold Fever: Comes up a time or two in his books, usually among the bad guys.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: There is a brawl between the good guy and either the bad guy or his minion in pretty near every single book. In a bit of a reversal of the portrayal of many "fisticuffs" incidents in books, the protagonists generally win not merely because they know all the dirty tricks (in fact, they often withhold from dirty tricks to show their moral superiority) but because they know real boxing or wrestling techniques. This one is likely a result of L'amour's time spent as a professional boxer.
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Sackett has one of the hanger-on type of gunfighter wannabe.
  • The Gunslinger: Most of his protagonists.
  • Gun Twirling: In an effort to subvert this trope, L'Amour had one of his characters twirling his gun and accidentally killing a man. When he's hanged, the townspeople put a sign around his neck saying "This was no accident".
  • Heroic Build: Most of his heroes. Many of his protagonists are around 6' tall and 200lbs, all muscle. This was also L'Amour's height and weight when he was boxing.
  • Hopeless Suitor:
    • Tell Sackett gets married to Ange Kerry, but she is murdered in The Sackett Brand, setting off the book's plot. He never gets the girl in any other of his stories, either.
    • Flagan Sackett, depending on which way they're supposed to be read, either doesn't get Judith Costello in The Sky-Liners or Meg Rossiter in Galloway. Canonically, it appears he gets Judith Costello, despite the novel being written before Galloway, which most fans prefer, since she's a Action Girl, who kills several men while helping Flagan, saving his life at least twice.
  • Loose Canon: All of his books supposedly take place over the same continuity. But, several take place in the same location and others have uncertain points in which their continuities go. For example, The Skyliners takes place after Galloway, though they're written, according to Louis L'Amour, in opposite order, and both feature Flagan and Galloway Sackett. Neither novel references the other's plot points, but both reference The Sackett Brand.
  • Made of Iron: Quite a few of his protagonists survive being shot. Notably through his 3 books and 4 short stories, Kilkenny is shot 10 times and survives.
  • Moody Mount: About half of his heroes' horses.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: The heroines, and their boyfriends, regard even dancing in saloon as a Fate Worse than Death.
  • New Old West: The Broken Gun is set in the 1950s, with a reporter following up on century-old journal pages stuffed in a revolver.
  • Noble Savage: L'Amour loved the Apache nation. Native Americans were rarely the big bad of his books, they were mostly like a force of nature.
  • The Pioneer: Barnabas Sackett, founder of the Sackett dynasty, starting in Sackett's Land.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Clinch Mountain Sacketts. Nolan and Logan in particular are supposed to be outlaws and rustlers with posses out after them, but while onstage they never actually steal anybody's cows, horses or money; indeed, they never commit any crime at all, except possibly to stretch self-defense beyond its legal limits. In the backstory, they're stated to have robbed stagecoaches and a few other crimes, but they never do it in any of the books where they're the main characters.
  • Prospector: In Sackett, Tell Sackett more or less stumbles into becoming one.
  • Rated M for Manly: Every novel consists of manly men doing manly things.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Kilkenny, in several books by Louis L'Amour, is The Drifter because he wants to retire, but people won't let him once they find out who he is.
  • The Sheriff: In The Daybreakers, Orrin Sackett parlays his successful term as a town marshal for Mora, New Mexico to run for county sheriff. His brother Tyrel's turn as town marshal for a small mining town doesn't go as well, though he makes a fine deputy sheriff later.
  • Southern Gentleman: Drake Morrell from Bendigo Shafter.
  • Thirsty Desert: One of L'Amour's standard plots is to throw the protagonist in the middle of a desert with no water, no horse, and no friendly faces for miles. Like many of his other standard scenarios, he based this on real experiences—in this case, walking out of Death Valley when he was a young man. The Sonoran Desert tends to be the specific desert used.
  • Train Job: The Trail to Peach Meadow Canyon has the protagonist plan out the robbery of a train carrying a fortune in gold.
  • The 'Verse: Every book is implied to take place in the same continuity, though most stories are not directly connected to one another.
  • Walking the Earth: Several protagonists, as well as L'Amour in his youth.
  • The Western: Pretty well the Trope Codifier, what with the immense popularity and accessibility of his novels.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: If a woman or man is blond in his books, chances are they are bad guys.
  • Zerg Rush: L'Amour wrote very, very fast, occasionally writing three full novels in one year. Often, the copyright dates listed inside his books state the month as well as they year they were published, so that collectors will know what order to put them in.


Example of: