Friday, January 9, 2015

Reflections on the Texas Trails Series

I have been reviewing books for the Texas Trails series for almost a year.  The Texas Trails series is Christian historical fiction that is about nineteenth century Texas.  It focuses on the Morgan family.  See here for my reviews of the books.

The books have three authors: Darlene Franklin, Susan Page Davis, and Vickie McDonough, all of whom have written other works of Christian fiction.  The books, in their proper order, are as follows:

1.  Lone Star Trail, by Darlene Franklin.
2.  Captive Trail, by Susan Page Davis.
3.  Long Trail Home, by Vickie McDonough.
4.  A Ranger’s Trail, by Darlene Franklin.
5.  Cowgirl Trail, by Susan Page Davis.
6.  End of the Trail, by Vickie McDonough.

In terms of the Texas Trails series, each author approaches her story in a distinct way.

1.  Darlene Franklin focuses on the family of Judson Morgan.  Lone Star Trail does so, and A Ranger’s Trail is about Judson’s son Buck.  In Darlene Franklin’s books of the series, I do not see much (if anything at all) about non-Christians becoming Christians.  Rather, what happens in her books is that a Christian grows as a Christian, learning such values as accepting people who are different or forgiveness.  Franklin’s books of the series stress divisions between people and how they can be overcome.  Her books in this series also have a lot of characters.

2.  Susan Page Davis focuses on the family of Billie Morgan.  Billie is the sister of Judson Morgan, and she was captured by the Comanche.  Captive Trail is about Billie, and Cowgirl Trail is about her son, Alex Bright.  In terms of religion and spirituality, Davis is not as overt about this, at least in comparison with Franklin and McDonough.  There are references to divine providence in Davis’ books, but there usually are not religious and spiritual epiphanies on the part of the characters.  In Davis’ books, people help others: the nuns help Billie, and Alex Bright helps women driving cattle to market.  Another characteristic of Davis’ work in this series is that the plots are slow and focus on only a few themes.  That can actually be an asset, for it creates a certain tension, and it allows readers to take their time in getting to know the characters.

3.  Vickie McDonough focuses on the family of Riley Morgan, who was the son of Calder Morgan, brother of Judson.  Long Trail Home is about Riley, and End of the Trail is about Riley’s son Brooks.  In terms of religion and spirituality, McDonough focuses on how people are imperfect and that is why Christ came to die for our sins.  Her two books also have a clear villain, some well-to-do person who wants to take something that a protagonist loves.  (The villain is a different person in both books, just to be clear.)

The book of the series that I most enjoyed was Davis’ Captive Trail.  I liked the book because I was rooting for people to be able to communicate with Billie, plus I appreciated the idea of people from different backgrounds coming together to help her.  I gave it a lower Amazon rating than I gave some of the other books of the series, however, because I wished that the book provided a more balanced depiction of the Comanche.

The book of the series that I did not enjoy reading as much was Darlene Franklin’s A Ranger’s Trail.  It was too complicated for me as a reader.  And yet, there are aspects of the book that endear it to me.  I love Franklin’s dedication of her book to her son: “Together, God has taught us how to forgive the unforgiveable and has restored us to each other.”  It seems to me that this book was very personal for Darlene Franklin.  A Ranger’s Trail was also meaningful to me because it was about the damage that can come from resentment and unforgiveness.  That resonated with me at this particular season of my life.

I have enjoyed this series, and I thank Moody Press for sending me review copies of books from the series over the past year.

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