Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Last of the Mohicans [Quick Review]


I'm on a reading kick lately, specifically delving into about 100 classic books I've recently downloaded onto my Kindle from Project Gutenberg. A couple days ago I finished reading James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans - I thought it was a good choice given the fact that I'm writing a colonial North America-themed hex crawl at the moment.

For a book written in 1826, Last of the Mohicans is pretty accessible to the modern reader. Many books of that era make long, wide detours away from the story to touch on matters of history, geography, etc. This isn't a bad thing in-an-of itself, but it can distract from the matter at hand. Last of the Mohicans stays the course, telling the tale of the white scout Hawkeye (Nathaniel Bumppo) and the Mohicans, Uncas and Chingachgook, as they endeavor first to deliver Cora and Alice, daughters of Col. Munro, and their companions, Major Heyward and the psalmodist David through the wilderness to safety. Ultimately, they fail at this, and must free them from the clutches of the Hurons and their chief, Magua.

Last of the Mohicans is a rousing tale worth reading. For gamers, it's a good study on the way a wilderness campaign might be conducted. As I read the book, I also got the distinct feeling that it was a major inspiration on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I'm no Tolkien scholar, so I might be completely wrong on this one, but the use of language, the singing of songs, the overall feel of the flight through the wilderness all reminded me of the Fellowship of the Ring. I do know that Tolkien's rangers were inspired by the real life ranger of North America, so I suppose it's possible that the professor was a fan of the book.

So - your assignment before tramping through the Virgin Woode is to delve into Cooper's Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757.

Click here for Project Gutenberg's copy

6 comments:

  1. I just read "Last of the Mohicans" a few months ago. I loved it. I didn't really think about the gaming aspects until later.

    I hadn't thought about any connection with Tolkien, but it is interesting.

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  2. I think it kind of drags in places, but I remember liking it when I read it.

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    1. It does a bit, but compared to contemporary novels, I think it moved pretty well.

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  3. I made the mistake of reading Mark Twain's criticism of Cooper before actually trying to read one of the novels, so I couldn't really get past the stuff he makes fun of.

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  4. Haven't read Cooper, but have been reading Teddy Roosevelt's account of the settling of Kentucky and Tennessee, which struck me that there is a great wealth of inspiration for RPGs in the history of that period. I look forward to seeing your hex crawl.

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    1. I'm reading TR's Rough Riders at the moment - I'll have to look for the other. Last of the Mohicans is your basic adventure story - Hawkeye wouldn't be entirely out of place with Conan.

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