Before he reaches
When he gets there, he discovers that the
For several installments, Gordon Durant runs around southern Texas, catches up to his half-brother only to lose him before he can settle the score between them, is captured by the gang of outlaws that Vincent has joined, escapes, rejoins the Texas army and is sent out to spy by Sam Houston, discovers that his fiancee Faith and her father are also in Texas, is captured at the Battle of Coleto with the rest of Fannin's men and barely escapes when they are executed in the massacre at Goliad, scouts for the Texas army with Deaf Smith, and finally winds up taking part in the Battle of San Jacinto in which the outnumbered Texans handily defeat the Mexican army and capture Santa Anna. This decisive battle also forms the backdrop for Gordon's final showdown with his brother.
This is all as breathless as it sounds, and to be honest, all the fictional intrigue and adventures surrounding Gordon Durant come off as a bit forced and confusing. It reads wonderfully, of course, thanks to Bedford-Jones' skill as a storyteller. If anything, "Texas Shall Be Free!" has even more momentum than its predecessor, which was an excellent novel.
What sets this story apart and lifts it to the status of one of the best historical novels I've ever read about the Texas Revolution are the descriptions of both the landscape and the battles. I don't know if Bedford-Jones ever visited
If I were a small-press publisher, one of the first projects I'd take on would be a reprinting of "Bowie Knife" and "Texas Shall Be Free!" in one volume. Since I'm not, I'll just highly recommend the issues of ARGOSY in which they appear to any fan of top-notch historical novels.