Saturday, June 29, 2019

Summer Reads: The Son by Philipp Meyer

For the last ten weeks, I've spent my Saturday night watching the second (and final) season of AMC's The Son starring Pierce Brosnan, which is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Philipp Meyer. The first season (or the first 10 episodes) aired in 2017. I didn't start watching the series until several seeks after it premiered on On Demand. I was addicted to the series after the first episode. It's a shame that AMC didn't have faith in the series and cancelled it several months for the second season began. I bet the two year gap between seasons didn't help much.

Before I had finished watching the first season in 2017, I bought the novel by Philipp Meyer, which is nearly 600 pages with small lettering. Like many other titles, I had intended on reading the book right away, but that didn't occur. Actually, the book was put up and I just forgot about it until final season of the series started, this is when I remembered I owned a copy. Considering the page length, I figured it would take me at least two weeks to read the novel, but I ended up reading the book fairly quickly.

The novel is mostly told in three different point-of-views - Colonel Eli McCullough, Peter McCullough, and Jeanne Anne McCullough. Now I say "mostly" because are there are two others included towards the latter of the novel but I'm not going to mention the names here, as it would give away the twist.

Colonel Eli McCullough's story book begins in 1936 when he was 100-years-old and the rest of his story is told in flashbacks beginning when he was a 13-year-old in 1849 living in Texas with his mother, brother, and sister. Comanches attack their home, they rape and murder his mother and sister, and capture him and his older brother, who later dies. Eli is adopted by the Kotsoteka Comanches and is named Tiehteti. While living with the Comanches, Toshaway (the Indian who kidnapped him) becomes his new father. At first, he is treated cruelly by the other tribe members, but eventually he earns their respect. He spends three years with the Comanches until fate leads him on a different path to become a cattle baron and oil king.

Peter is the son of Eli McCullough and Madeline Black and his story is told from journal entries dating from 1915 to 1917. During these years, his father and sons murdered the neighboring Garcia family in cold blood, took their land, and buried their bodies in a mass grave. There was only one survivor - Maria Garcia, an ex-flame. Peter will do anything to protect her, even if it means leaving his wife, Sally, and their sons behind.

Jeanne Anne is the granddaughter of Peter and Sally. Though she never met her grandfather, she has found memories of her great-grandfather, the "Colonel." Despite being the only daughter out of four children, Jeanne become the inheritor of the family's cattle and oil business. Her story is told through flashbacks beginning when she was ten-year-old up until the year 2012 when her family's past comes to haunt her.


Final Thoughts

Don't get me wrong, I love the television series, but the book is so much better!!! The novel is beautifully written with interesting characters, vivid characters, and lively dialogue. It's a book that I had a hard time putting down. The character narrations grab a hold of you and doesn't let go.

How is the book different than the television series?

Well, there are tons of differences between the two, with the main thing being that Jeanne Anne is Peter's granddaughter in the book but she's his daughter in the television series. Maria Garcia doesn't cause as much trouble in the book as does for the McCullough family in the series. While Peter's brother Phineas's sexuality is hinted at in the book, his homosexual lifestyle is a subplot in the series. Eli's first love, Prairie Flower, doesn't have much of a part in the novel as she does in the series. Ingrid, a young woman who was also captured by the Comanches, only has a brief part in the novel compared to her bigger appearance on the television series.

Overall, The Son is one of the best westerns written in recent years.


  1. The book is almost always better, I think, unless it's something like Jaws that can take advantage of a giant creature coming toward the audience on the big screen, eek!

  2. I didn't realize this was a novel. I'll have to share that with my husband. He loves the show.


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