Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mackenna's Gold by Will Henry

Mackenna's Gold by Will Henry
Copyright 1963

For comforting an old Apache during his last dying hours, prospector Glen Mackenna is bestowed with the secret location of the Lost Canyon of Gold. Called Sno-ta-hay by the Apache, the canyon is a sacred place where mass amounts of gold are protected by ancient spirits. After memorizing the map even though he believes this is just a fable, Mackenna is then captured by the ugly renegade half-breed Pelon Lopez and his band of outlaw Indians. Pelon wants Mackenna to lead them to Sno-ta-hay and to persuade him to do so he holds a white girl hostage. Well, the adventure begins and along the way there are plenty of killings, a cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers hunting them down, forced alliances with nasty villains, and the truth about the legend of the Lost Adams Diggings at the Canyon of Gold.

What might lie ahead for his companions, he could not begin to imagine. What lay ahead for himself, he did not dare to think about. For the moment, only one thing was to be regarded as absolute certain: in such a company of human animals as that with whom he now loped through the desert night, death was no farther away than the nearest member of the pack.

Written by Will Henry (Henry Wilson Allen) in 1963, Mackenna’s Gold packs quite a bit of action in an evenly-paced Western novel. Though not a masterpiece, the plot that is spun around the quest for the gold is very good. In reality, there is a legend of the Lost Adams Diggings (a man named Adams boasted of finding the gold-filled canyon in 1864) and even today fanatics search for this legendary lost canyon. The Adams tale is the driving force in Mackenna’s Gold. And when you mix in the ragtag pursuit for the gold, Will Henry spins a decent Western story here. But I did have a few problems with the novel, most of them revolve around the characters. Mackenna comes off like a cream puff, he toughens up at the end but his image is cast early in the story. The hostage white girl is never really developed by Will Henry and only seems to be in the story as an excuse to force Mackenna to show the renegades the way. And Pelon is a total enigma. At times he is a vile, violent, ignorant killer and then later he acts almost Shakespearean as he rants to Mackenna about compassion and fate. It’s the pure-blood Native American characters in the story that captivate the reader. Pelon’s mother and sister, who are along on the quest, are the most intriguing of the group. Henry details their past and they play important roles in the outcome of the story. Another Indian called Hachita, who shows compassion towards Mackenna, extends to the reader a sense of the lost wonders of the American Indian way of life. Like a heart that has been touched by the sound of the water and the songbirds in the canyons, Hachita portrays a stature of honesty and morality when compared to all the other characters in the novel. I really liked the Hachita and Henry did a good job with the character.

Overall, I liked “Mackenna’s Gold.” Will Henry always has something going on in the story. The book has an underlying theme about the craze for gold and the consequences of tampering with sacred legend. And the history surrounding the Lost Adams Diggings is so damn interesting, it keeps the reader glued to the pages.

Not perfect, but it still is a good Western adventure.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I wish I could include some of these on Friday's Forgotten Books. Let me know.

Erich Hicks said...

Keep telling that history:

Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, where Buffalo Bill Cody meets a Buffalo Soldier. A great story of Black military history...the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers. Five stars Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the youtube trailer commercial...and visit the website

How do you keep a people down? ‘Never' let them 'know' their history.

The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

I know you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote the story that embodied the Native Americans, Outlaws and African-American/Black soldiers, from the south to the north, in the days of the Native American Wars with the approaching United States of America. This story is about, brutality, compassion, reprisal, bravery, heroism and gallantry. The story shows the truism to the fullest of a PG-14 perspective...with a DVD release to show the fullest reality of war. Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, the story of the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers.

The novel was taken from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn’t like telling our stories…its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see at;

When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for Wells Fargo in Montana, in the 1890's, “spread the word”.