Thursday, June 8, 2017


By Celia Yeary

                                           An Overview of The Son-- by Philipp Meyer

Last year, the University Women’s Book Club of which I am a member, read this novel titled The Son. It is 580 pages, and I confess I did not read this book. This was during a time when I was on overload with other life events, so I hoped other members read it and I could learn about it through the discussion. I soon learned that few had attempted to read it in its entirety, but I applaud those who finished the novel.

The Son is the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling epic, a saga of land, blood, and power that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the oil booms of the 20th century.

“Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries.”

Interweaving Eli’s story with those of his son, Peter, and his great-granddaughter, JA, The Son deftly explores the legacy of Eli’s ruthlessness, his drive to power, and his life-long status as an outsider, even as the McCullough family rises to become one of the richest in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege.
Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon-an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.
Twelve Year Old Eli McCullogh just before his capture by the Comanche
Eli McCullough is just twelve-years-old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his Texas homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him as a captive. Despite their torture and cruelty, Eli--against all odds--adapts to life with the Comanche, learning their ways, their language, taking on a new name, finding a place as the adopted son of the chief of the band, and fighting their wars against not only other Indians, but white men, too-complicating his sense of loyalty, his promised vengeance, and his very understanding of self. But when disease, starvation, and westward expansion finally decimate the Comanche, Eli is left alone in a world in which he belongs nowhere, neither white nor Indian, civilized or fully wild.
Eli as a young adult living with the Comanche
Now this novel has been transformed into a TV Series on AMC starring Pierce Brosnan and co-written by Philipp Meyer. I began watching the episodes from the beginning, and learned that it is a dark, morbid story of survival that few could understand today. Even knowing it is pure fiction I envisioned each episode as something “real” that had occurred over more than a century and a half ago.

But the reviewers have not been kind to this mini-series. First, casting Pierce Brosnan as the main character Eli McCullough seems to have rubbed most the wrong way. Why?

In general, many wonder why the Irish actor who had a 007 persona was chosen for the role of a man who is supposed to be the epitome of a powerful Texan who developed both an oil and a ranching dynasty. Brosnan never seems comfortable playing a true Texan. 

Some have written that the story is messy and hard to like. I admit it is difficult to watch at times because of the graphic violence. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the story.

A few of the early episodes dwell on a young Eli in 1849, when he is taken captive by Indians after a brutal encounter that leaves his mother and other family members dead. These episodes have been more intriguing to me than the later years when Eli is a grown man-- a “true Texan.”

Find the novel in hardback, paperback, or ebook on Amazon
Author: Philipp Meyer
Watch the remaining episodes on AMC

Celia Yeary
Romance, and a little bit of Texas


  1. Celia, interesting to read your review of the novel, The Son, a book I hadn't heard of, also that it has been made into a TV series which I may have to check out. The story of Eli resembles the character in my first novel, Trail To Destiny, who grows up under the tutelage of a Cheyenne chief and faces the challenges of loyalty to his adopted Indian family verses his white heritage.

  2. Cheri--Actually, I read Trail to's still on my Kindle. I only delete bad ones, so I guess you might say I liked yours!
    Even in real life, the capture of a white boy by some tribe is not that uncommon. We know the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, but hardly anyone knew about her little brother Johnny, who was captured at the same time but traded off to another tribe.
    I wrote a blog titled "Who Was Little Johnny Parker."
    This thread always makes an intriguing story.
    Thanks for your comment.

    1. Yes, knew about Cynthia Parker, but not Little Johnny. I tried to look back on the blogs in search but couldn't find your blog about him.

    2. I'll find it and send it to you.

  3. I'd not heard of the novel but I think I will have to go find it. It sounds like something I'd really enjoy, not the brutal parts but the saga.

  4. Hi, Celia! I've been watching this series too and find it hard to watch at times. Interestingly, the series premiered the day I finished the book News of the World by Paulette Jiles, which is a work of fiction (and much, much shorter than the Son!) telling the story about a man who is charged with returning a former captive to her family. It was very good, but better yet at the end the author recommends the nonfiction book, The Captured: A Texas Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier, by Scott Zesch. Zesch had a captive in his own family history,which sparked his interest. He follows the story of a number of these children from time of abduction to their release and the aftermath. It was a fascinating book, reading like fiction. Not always easy to read, but as you say this is what happened to real people and is a part of history I wasn't too familiar with. I highly recommend his book to anyone interested in the topic of Indian captives and Texas history.

    1. Patti--thanks for the information on The Captured. I'll look that one up. I appreciate your visit and comment.

  5. I don't watch many old time Westerns, but lately have been binge watching Longmire, taking place in present day.

    1. Oh, yes, we followers loved Longmire. However, it's not ever close to the old time westerns. Still, I liked the character, the actor, and the plots. I'm still sad it was discontinued.

  6. Celia, hubby and I watched the first few episodes of The Son. I'm not in love with the story, especially Eli's character as portrayed by Pierce Brosnan. I agree he's not the best choice of actors for this role. We have more episodes recorded and will eventually watch them.

    BTW Longmire was picked up by Netflix. One more short season is supposed to be shown sometime this year.

    1. I've found The Son difficult to watch...but I'm hanging in there just....because. We don't do Netflix or anything other than our tv schedule. But Longmire was a favorite. I wish stations wouldn't do that.. get us interested and then pull up to be up some other way.

  7. A very interesting story line. I'm not a fan of really long novels. Often the author gets bogged down in some kind of secondary thing like Anna Gabaldon waxing on and on about botany and homeopathic medicine. Ugh! I wonder if the TV series of THE SON is intense all the way through.
    Speaking of Longmire: I have binge watched it on Netflix and loved it. I didn't know it was going to be discontinued. Whenever I get interested in something, it gets canned.

    1. Sarah--yes, Longmire was canceled too soon. When they do that, I lose interest. I don't care if more episodes might be produced on some other venue. If it's not on my tv schedule, I don't watch it.
      Yes, The Son will be violent and intense the entire way. So, far, I have enjoyed the most about young Eli growing up with the Comanche. That's always intriguing to me...and I've learned some about how a captive learns to stay alive. Good story material!


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