This story is so big, giant, sprawling, so... EPIC. I absolutely loved this novel. Having been a fan of the 1989 mini-series, this book has been on my shelf to read for nearly 30 years -- yikes! Thanks to another member of my book club who chose it for our January read, I can finally say that I have conquered this wonderful story. It's a western, no doubt, with much brutality, harsh times, and a lot of death. But it is also filled with humor, adventure, and unforgettable characters. This is, chronologically, the 3rd book in the series although it was the first published (weird!). I don't have a lot of interest in the first two books, but I just might read the final story to see what becomes of these people I've grown to really care about.