7 Western-Fiction Books Like Lonesome Dove

Western Fiction Books

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is the third book chronologically in order of events of the series. But this is the first book in the series that Larry wrote and published. It is a sprawling and deeply immersive story that explores friendship, adventure, loyalty, and the fading era of the American West.

This book follows the Hat Creek Cattle Company and their three thousand-mile treks from Texas to Montana. They decided to go on this trek because their old ranger buddy Jake Spoon showed up in Lonesome Dove one day. They haven’t seen him in years.

So when he presented this opportunity to the cattle company, they were initially hesitant. But after thinking about it for a while, they agree. This book is practically a Western Lord of the Rings because you follow these characters on long, tedious quests. You learn about them throughout as they face trials and tribulations, whether it be Indians, the weather, wildlife, or whatever sickness may be happening.

Books like Lonesome Dove expand the range of Western-themed literature and share immersive settings, historical context, and the exploration of the human experience in the American frontier. Each book shares a unique perspective on the West’s challenges, triumphs, and complexities, providing readers with richly crafted narratives and memorable characters.

7 Books Like Lonesome Dove (Western Historical Fiction)

Lonesome Dove transports readers to the vast landscapes of the American West, immersing them in the frontier’s beauty, harshness, and grandeur. It’s about the two characters and their chemistry. Gus is social. He talks nonstop, and he’s a goofball overall.

In contrast, Carl is very calm and reserved. He values hard work and thinks that all there is to life is working. There are many touching moments; overall, it’s filled with emotion. You have all these interconnected love triangles throughout the book.

So throughout the book, their relationship was well done, and they taught each other quite a bit about themselves, which I enjoyed. Now I will talk about seven books similar to Lonesome Dove. Let’s go!

1. All The Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses is a masterfully written novel that captures the American West’s spirit while focusing on universal themes of love, longing, and the search for meaning. The book starts with John Grady Cole. He is a cowboy who lives in Texas and the late Nineteen Forties. He wishes that he was born in an earlier era. There aren’t too many cowboys left, and he wishes that he had grown up when his grandfather passed away and the ranch he owned would have been sold.

Both of John’s parents are pretty much failures. His father went to the war and came back. They don’t have the father-son relationship that many people do have. So he decides that he wants to leave. He wants to find something better for himself and his best friend, Lacyy Rawlins.

John goes over and talks to his friend Lacy. The two end up traveling to Mexico on their horses. Other people have cars, but they want to ride their horses. They end up crossing the border, and they run into a kid named Jimmie Blevins, and they let him tag along. He’s the 13-year-old kid. So they allowed him to tag along as the story progressed.

The ranch owner has a beautiful daughter whom John falls in love with. But people tell him, don’t get with this girl, and he continues progressing. Then the book gets very dark after that. This story is a bit of a romance but an adventure buddy story similar to Lonesome Dove. The chemistry you feel between Rollins and John is so strong like they are best friends.

Author: Cormac McCarthy
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Western Fiction, Fiction Sagas
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

2. True Grit

True Grit is a classic Western novel that combines adventure, humor, and a compelling protagonist to create a memorable and engaging Western tale. It’s about a 14-year-old girl whose father is an outlaw. He murdered someone, so he fled to Indian territory outside the law. So, Mattie, the girl, decides to find a U.S. marshal who has the jurisdiction to get him and avenge her father.

Texan comes along because this guy has murdered other people. Texan is after him for murdering a different person. So it’s not hard to describe the genre. Like Western Adventure, many of the reviews in this light called it a comedy and thought it was hilarious.

Mattie is a spinster now. She gives life advice and scripture verses to back things up while talking about a chase in Indian territory. So her voice is compelling and makes the book a short read. This lady has an afterword: her great-grandmother, her mother, and she loved it so much that they loaned out their copy. The person doesn’t give it back. They checked the library property and pretended to lose it to have their copy. If you like Lonesome Dove, you must read it.

Author: Charles Portis
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Western Fiction, Mysteries
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

3. Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian was published in 1985. You could refer to it as a Western or as an anti-Western. Both would probably be accurate. It takes place around the eighteen fifties, weaving a gritty, hallucinatory narrative about a young kid from Tennesseean, referred to as the kid, who gets caught up in a marauding band of scalpers across the Texas-Mexico border.

The Glanton gang was a real-life gang that did scalp Apaches. They were getting paid for it. So they moved from simply Apaches to peaceful rural Indians and Mexican citizens. It eventually led the state of Chihuahua to declare them outlaws. They were finally killed and broken up. Glanton appears in the book, so this gang recruits the kid.

You meet a host of characters as they travel along this very grim, barren land of death and violence. The historical cycle of man’s inhumanity to man is beautifully illustrated in the personification of evil as the antagonist. Judge Holden is affectionately referred to as the Judge, a hairless man with an omnipresent ability and a penchant for cruelty and pedophilia. Is he God, Satan, or Woody Harrelson as a gang of scalpers travels through the desert? The Judge sketches species of animals at that time.

There are some great literary references in this desolate southern backdrop. When the Apaches chase the gang of scalpers to a volcano’s smoking summit mouth, they can see the Apaches coming up. They’re out of gunpowder, but the Judge knows that the chemical composition of the volcanic soil with sulfur will react with urine and create crude but usable dirty gunpowder.

So you have this army of scalpers pissing on the soil of this volcano commanded by this laughing, maniacal Woody Harrelson about to be slaughtered by furious Apaches.

Author: Cormac McCarthy
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Historical Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

4. The Thorn Birds

The Thorn Birds was published in 1977 and was so popular by 1983. A TV adaptation had already been made of it. It’s about 700 pages long, and the book’s title comes from this supposedly Celtic legend that tells of a bird that spends its whole life searching for a thorn tree. Once it finds it, it sinks its first and only song while impelling itself upon a sharp fawn. The song it’s singing is supposedly so beautiful that the whole world steals to listen, gets in his heaven, and smiles, and the bird doesn’t know it is dying as it is singing.

It’s a metaphor because humans usually know they will suffer while pursuing their ambitions or dreams. But we still don’t care if we’ll suffer or pay for it dearly. We’re still going to go and pursue it. So, It’s about the Cleary family and tells the story of three generations. There is a beautiful, incredible, unique love story in each generation.

Like Lonesome Dove, the real story is about the forbidden love of an ambitious, handsome priest and Maggie Cleary. Colleen McCullough nourishes their love affair to develop at an unbelievable speed. The other also goes on to present us with some memorable characters.

The narrator also learned a lot about Australia, how it was, and what life was like in the last century. We learned about its traditions and culture, about living at a station in New South Wales and the life of a drover, and we even learned about cutting. Cutting came to Queensland, but we also visited London, Rome, Sydney, and Greece. So, all in all, we get a lot of fantastic elements that make up these fascinating novels that are not one bit dull.

Author: Colleen McCullough
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Historical Australian & Oceanian Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

5. The Son

The Son is a sweeping multi-generational novel that spans the history of Texas, from the days of the Comanches to the oil boom of the 20th century. This book is about five hundred and sixty pages, and it’s also a challenge in reading stamina. If you are a fan of American and Western American history, this book is excellent for you. It deals with relations with Native Americans, notably several of the characters.

The essential character in this book, Eli, is kidnapped by a Native American tribe and held hostage. Ultimately, it turns out that it significantly impacts Eli’s character in dealing with survival and relating to others.

So the story is told from alternating points of view. The author also moves around in time and expects you to keep up with him as he moves around in time. That’s challenging as well. It is well written, so I have two reasons for recommending it: the significant insights about American history.

There are so many things in this book. The author has researched the heck out of the storyline in this book which is very similar to Lonesome Dove. He gives you the authentic characters in this book, and he doesn’t hold back.

Author: Philipp Meyer
Average Rating: 4.2/5
Category: Western Fiction, Historical Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

6. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Sisters Brothers is a darkly comedic Western novel that follows the notorious assassin brothers, Eli and Charlie Sisters. They pursue their latest target during the California Gold Rush. DeWitt’s novel subverts traditional Western tropes, blending humor, violence, and introspection. The book explores brotherhood, redemption, and the search for meaning in a violent world.

7. The Revenant by Michael Punke

The Revenant is a gripping historical novel inspired by true events. It follows the story of Hugh Glass, a fur trapper left for dead after being mauled by a bear. Glass goes on a harrowing journey through the treacherous wilderness to track down the men who betrayed him.

Punke’s intense storytelling transport readers to the unforgiving landscapes of the American frontier. Like Lonesome Dove, this book covers survival, resilience, and the indomitable human spirit, offering a compelling reading experience.

These books share similarities with “Lonesome Dove” in their themes, immersive settings, and compelling storytelling. Each book offers a unique exploration of the American West, capturing the frontier’s spirit and focusing on the complexities of human emotions.

More Historical Fiction Books:

Cowboy Romance Novels With Western Plots

Books About Atlantis

Books Like Conversations With Friends

Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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