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A Trope Codifier for The Western genre, Louis L'Amour (born Louis La Moore, but he changed his name because Everything Sounds Sexier in French) wrote eighty-six novels and several more short stories over the course of his life. The Western was his prefered genre, though he refered to all his novels as "frontier stories" and he wrote historical fiction set in other eras as well, plus the occasional thriller or fantasy.
Where other adventure writers can talk the talk, L'Amour walked the adventurer walk. At the age of fifteen he left home and began Walking the Earth, eventually becoming a merchant seaman and then serving with the United States Army in World War Two, and at one point or another visited every continent except Antarctica.
He died of lung cancer in 1988. His autobiography, Education of a Traveling Man was published posthumously.
He and his books provide examples of the following tropes:
- Airport Novel: His early books, but he grew out of it.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: The hero of The Walking Drum invokes this, saying something to the effect that women admire good men, "but they sleep with cads." He claims to be in the latter group -- and says this to a woman he openly intends to seduce.
- Always Female tropes that apply:
- My Girl Is Not a Slut - the heroines, and their boyfriends, regard even dancing in saloon as a Fate Worse Than Death
- Daddy's Little Villain, and how: see, e.g., The Daybreakers, Lando, The Lonely Men and Kiowa Trail. L'Amour's good girls become grown-up pioneer women and cut the cord with their fathers
- with a sprinkling of Femme Fatale on occasion, although direct "sexiness" or any mention of sex at all is extremely rare.
- And Now for Something Completely Different: Almost all his books were westerns, but towards the end of his life he branched out to other genres. The most obvious example is The Haunted Mesa, which is a Trapped in Another World Heroic Fantasy. Another is The Walking Drum, which is still historical fiction, but is about the Moorish Empire.
- Anti-Hero: A great deal of his protagonists fall into this category, sticking a whole lot closer to a code of honor (don't hit women, don't steal cattle, don't shoot a man in the back, etc.) than actual laws. Most would fall into III or IV, but some are II instead. It's rare that the protagonist isn't at least a Knight in Sour Armor.
- Badass: If there aren't a few characters in the book who qualify, it ain't L'Amour.
- Black and White Morality: For the most part, bad guys are very bad, and innocent people are very good. However, his protagonists tend to be a lot more morally ambiguous.
- Easy Amnesia: In The Man Called Noon, the protagonist gets this after being shot in the head (non-fatally, obviously) and falling out a window. All he has is his name (which someone else tells him), freakishly good skill with a gun, and hints that he's supposed to know where a massive hidden treasure is. The book is spent trying to retrace his tracks and figure out who he is, what he was trying to do, and who shot him in the first place... all without letting on to anyone else. In a bit of a reversal of Criminal Amnesiac, it turns out that Noon was actually a bad guy, although amnesia gave him a fresh start and he turns out to be good.
- Generational Saga: The Sacketts series follows the titular clan from medival Ireland to colonial America to of course the Old West. There's also books that follow the Talon and Chantry families (although the Talons eventually marry in to the Sacketts), although those are much shorter series.
- Gold Fever: Comes up a time or two in his books, usually among the bad guys.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: There is a brawl between the good guy and either the bad guy or his minion in pretty near every single book. In a bit of a reversal of the portrayal of many "fisticuffs" incidents in books, the protagonists generally win not merely because they know all the dirty tricks (in fact, they often withhold from dirty tricks to show their moral superiority) but because they know real boxing or wrestling techniques. This one is likely a result of L'amour's time spent as a professional boxer.
- The Gunslinger: Most of his protagonists.
- Moody Mount: About half of his heroes' horses.
- Noble Savage: L'Amour loved the Apache nation.
- Old Shame: The Hopalong Cassidy novels.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Clinch Mountain Sacketts. Nolan and Logan in particular are supposed to be outlaws and rustlers with posses out after them, but while onstage they never actually steal anybody's cows, horses or money; indeed, they never commit any crime at all, except possibly to stretch self-defense beyond its legal limits.
- Print Long Runners: The Sacketts goes on for seventeen books, plus two short stories.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Joe Mack of Last of the Breed. American jet fighter pilot and proud Indian savage.
- Rated "M" for Manly
- The Verse: Every book is implied to take place in the same continuity, though most stories are not directly connected to one another.
- Thirsty Desert: One of L'amour's standard plots is to throw the protagonist in the middle of a desert with no water, no horse, and no friendly faces for miles. Like many of his other standard scenarios, he based this on real experiences--in this case, walking out of Death Valley when he was a young man. The Sonoran Desert tends to be the specific desert used.
- Walking the Earth: Several protagonists, as well as L'Amour in his youth.
- The Western: Pretty well the Trope Codifier, what with the immense popularity and accessibility of his novels.
- Zerg Rush: L'Amour wrote very, very fast, occasionally writing three full novels in one year. Often, the copyright dates listed inside his books state the month as well as they year they were published, so that collectors will know what order to put them in.