Cover image for Code of the West
Code of the West
Latham, Aaron.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2001]

Physical Description:
494 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Western

On Order



In this magical and epic novel, the celebrated author of "Urban Cowboy" delivers a Texas-size love story that transplants the legend of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin alive and well to the Old West -- to stunning effect. "Code of the West" begins when Jimmy Goodnight, a young, earnest cowhand, recovering from having been brutally abducted by Comanches who slaughtered his family, sets his life on a new and surprising course by visiting a county fair. There he agrees to try to pull out an ax that has been deeply imbedded in an anvil and that has defied the efforts of the strongest men in Texas.

Jimmy's astonishing and triumphant achievement at the fair changes his life. With the prize money he follows his dream, recruits cowboys, puts together a herd of cattle, and drives them across the plains to a deep canyon, where he intends to make his own private kingdom. Goodnight's luck and courage bring him an early and gratifying success. Above all, they bring him the comradeship of his men, and the friendship of a lifetime, when he meets Jack Loving, who is everything Jimmy Goodnight isn't -- handsome, graceful, a naturally gifte

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It is not every writer who would attempt to meld the Celtic mythos of King Arthur with the American cowboy-and-Indian myth, but Latham (author of Urban Cowboy) not only dares to but he does so with glee. Characters are named with mocking reference to personality traits (Jack Loving is Lancelot and Jimmy Goodnight is Arthur). An ax is pulled from an anvil, and a motley band quests after cattle amid perfect canyon land. To meet a legend on equal footing is an ambitious goal for a novel, and at times this one succeeds and at other times it seems to be trying to fit into a borrowed coat. Nevertheless, Latham is both a lyrical and an economical writer, and his ability to bring Jimmy Goodnight fully to life even in the stolen chain mail of a much larger figure transforms this compulsively readable novel from a farce into a good western, full of wonderful moments, graphic violence, cliches, surprises, romance, and majesty. --Neal Wyatt

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a captivating barnburner of romance, adventure and gruesome frontier justice, Latham takes the mythical legend of King Arthur and Camelot and dresses it in buckskin, sweat and cow manure to create a sweeping saga of three decades of Texas cowboy history. From the 1860s to the 1880s, Jimmy Goodnight runs the Home Ranch, a cattle empire hidden in a canyon paradise. One-eyed Jimmy is gifted; he's a natural leader of men and he's able to talk with animals. Ever since he pulled an ax out of an anvil at a county fair, the ax has been his weapon of choice, and Jimmy is mighty handy with it as he smashes thumbs and skulls to bring law and order to his empire. When Jimmy and his knightly cowboys rescue a young woman from a gang of outlaws, he is smitten by her beauty and charm. Revelie Sanborn marries the ax-wielding cattle baron, and they begin a short-lived life of bliss. Jimmy's best friend, Jack Loving (read Lancelot), takes advantage of incipient marital discord, and his betrayal begins a spiral of lust and murder that no one can stop. Throw in a bloodthirsty gang of foul-smelling outlaws; a violent cowboy rebellion; a bitter, long-lost son; and dark secrets from Jimmy's past; and this yarn picks up speed and intensity like a runaway herd of cattle. In melding ancient legends with our cowboy mythos (and a few real-life historical details), the narrative is far more sophisticated than a typical good vs. evil western; indeed, almost everyone has a mean streak, a powerful passion and a finger on the trigger. Latham, a versatile writer whose novels and screenplays (Urban Cowboy; Perfect) have earned him critical acclaim and an Oscar, carries off this rollicking tale with class and style. Agent, Sterling Lord. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Few laws existed in late 1860s Texas, where settlers and natives fought brutal wars and outlaws took advantage of the weak. It is here that Latham, author of Urban Cowboy, brings to life the legend of King Arthur through his main character, Jimmy Goodnight. Taken by the Comanche Indians as a boy and recaptured by the whites, Goodnight returns to his Camelot: the beautiful red canyon of his shaman Comanche father. His adopted people are long gone, but with the help of his cowboys, Goodnight begins to build his dream. His Guinevere is a banker's daughter named Revelie, and he finds his Lancelot in a drifter cowboy named Loving. Finding his strength in love, Goodnight must face all of the trials of the legendary Arthur. Latham's fable is full of rich symbolism, and his writing (especially the use of short chapters) puts the reader at ease. Readers won't soon forget this new twist on an old story. Highly recommended. Loree Davis, Broward Cty. Libs., Pembroke Pines, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.