“The Californios” is a Louis L’Amour book, which means I’m predisposed to like it, which I did. It has been almost 10 years since the last time I read it, so the benefit of my bad memory paid off, and I got to enjoy it almost as if it were the first time.
It’s a bit different than many L’Amour books. For one thing, it takes place in the 1840s, an earlier setting than most. Second, it starts off in Mexico instead of his traditional Western United States settings, and even then, it moves to the coastal area of Malibu (now California), a place he doesn’t visit often.
But the most unusual part of the book is L’Amour playing fast and loose with time. You can call it time travel, mysticism, the “ancients,” science fiction or anything else you like, but it’s unusual to find a Western with time travel portals and ancient souls playing a role. Somehow, L’Amour makes it work, and we’re carried along with the story, which certainly requires a “willing suspension of disbelief,” but also, at least for me, forces/encourages another look at our perception of time. That alone makes the book well worth reading.
However, if time travel isn’t your thing, it’s a still a “Louis.” That means there are good guys, bad guys, beautiful women (in this case, two), fist fights, knife fights and gun fights. I won’t tell you who wins in the end, but you already know.