Skip to main content

The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour: Riveting Historical Fiction Novel

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour

Louis L'Amour is known for his many western novels, of which I have read many. According to Wikipedia, most of his books are still in print and continue to make sales in the hundreds of millions.

When I picked The Walking Drum off our bookshelf, I thought I would be reading another western story. Upon opening the first two pages, I saw a map of medieval Europe with a date A.D. 1176. Immediately I knew this would be a story unlike so many of his others, and I was intrigued.


Mathurin Kerbouchard

In the first few sentences of this book, the main character, Mathurin Kerbouchard, comes upon the smoldering ruins of his home and has hand-dug his dear mother's grave. His father was not at home when the murder and burning of the homestead took place.

A man who was a part of the savagery attacks Mathurin after lingering behind and watching him recover boxed treasures of gold coins hidden in the stone wall of the well. The boy Mathurin escapes and boards a ship only to find himself enslaved. So begins this swashbuckling tale.

Kerbouchard comes from an extended line of Druids. They are revered by many for their knowledge of numerous things having to do with the natural world. Most everything is committed to memory, and he has that gift of possessing a fantastic mind. It serves him well as he becomes the pilot of the same ship he once served in the form of a slave. Disembarking in Spain, after freeing other slaves aboard, he begins scholarly pursuits after being told that his father is dead.


Continuing Travel and Adventures

Mathurin is an avid reader and is widely read. Known as a scholar and working as a translater, we experience the medieval city of Córdoba. Splashing the pages with some love interests and political intrigues, he barely escapes execution and flees through some heart-stopping moments of action.

Readers learn of merchant caravans back in those times, and we see Mathurin joining one as he makes his way across Europe. Just as in the old west novels of wagon trains, these caravans often come under attack by thieves for the goods that they carry. Some hair-raising experiences take place with winners and losers. Mathurin avenges the man responsible for the death of his mother in a dramatic way. He also learns that his father is indeed alive, but under enslavement.

The journey continues through Paris, Kyiv, and onto the Russian plains where fierce nomads known as Pechenegs threaten their lives. After a ferocious series of battles, Mathurin, while severely injured, makes his way to Constantinople after nursing himself back to life.


As Mathurin Kerbouchard's journeys take us to faraway destinations, we feel ourselves transported back in time to the dangers and excitement of the Middle Ages as his quest to find his father takes us to an impregnable fortress in Persia.

His search for knowledge explodes across the pages as it serves him well as a seafarer, physician, alchemist, soldier, scholar, and always a lover. The daring escapes through seemingly bottomless pits, hidden passageways, underground tunnels, and more keeps readers enthralled.

Does he locate and save his father? I do not want to spoil your experience of reading this thrilling book by telling you more. Just know that the meaning of the title, The Walking Drum, will become apparent as you march along with our protagonist through his gripping adventures that will leave you thinking about this book long after turning the last page.

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.

— Louis L'Amour

Sources for Further Reading:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Scroll to Continue

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 26, 2020:

Hi manatita,

Louis L'Amour had to be an observant person to have captured people and their actions so beautifully with the written word. I am glad that you enjoyed the video.

manatita44 from london on October 26, 2020:

Looking at the video was informative. I read a lot of his books, of course. I was shaped by great writers and poets and the power of meditation. Now I rarely read anything but deep spirituality.

He comes over as simple as in simplicity, but thoughtful and observant. Charming!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2020:

Hi Devika,

The Walking Drum is a fascinating book if you have time to read it. Thanks for leaving a comment here. I hope that issue about the comments on niche sites will soon be resolved.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 06, 2020:

I tried to comment on other hubs of yours, but an issue that most are having here. No comment box on the different niches.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 03, 2020:

Hi Denise,

I hope that you enjoy this historical fiction novel as much as I did. Louis L 'Amour is a terrific author!

Take care, and stay safe!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 03, 2020:

I just purchased the book and can't wait to read it after I finish the mystery novel I'm reading now. Thanks.



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 02, 2020:

Hi Christy,

Louis L 'Amour did a lot of research when writing his novels. I can attest to liking all of his novels, but this one was my favorite. It is outside the norm of his many westerns. It is great that you started reading them as a teenager.

Christy Birmingham-Reyes on October 02, 2020:

I was first introduced to Louis L'Amour in high school by a teacher who enjoyed his books. I will never forget that moment and thanks for bringing back the wonderful memory of finding a new author as a teen :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 20, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

I do not want to give away the ending for those who might wish to read this fantastic novel. This book is one I will not soon forget.

Rosina S Khan on August 20, 2020:

This historical novel by Louis L'Amour does sound intriguing. I love historical novels, and I am interested in knowing whether Mathurin actually finds his father. Thanks for the review, Peggy. I would like to read the novel someday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 19, 2020:

Hi Denise,

This novel by Louis L'Amour is so unlike his others. I hope you get to read it. You will not be disappointed!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 18, 2020:

You know, I nearly skipped this because my dad was an avid Louis L'Amour fan and I knew his western-style and frankly wasn't interested. I'm glad I read on because I love novels about historical subjects and this one has my attention now. I've got to see if I can get a Kindle version. Thanks.



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 18, 2020:

Hi Adrienne,

Because of staying homebound much of the time (due to Covid-19), I am reading more books, and it is a delight. I hope you get the chance to relax sometime soon with an engaging book such as this one.

Adrienne Farricelli on August 17, 2020:

This book sounds interesting and hopefully one day when life is less busy I will be able to sit down and relax and read a good book without interruptions.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 14, 2020:

Hi Dale,

I guess there is only one way to remedy that! Ha! The Walking Drum is a good one, although quite different from his usual westerns, to become acquainted with this excellent author.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on August 14, 2020:

Peggy, I'm afraid I am going to have to admit that, despite being an eager reader, I have never read anything by Louis L'Amour. I hang my head in shame.

Robert Sacchi on August 12, 2020:

Thank you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 12, 2020:

Hi Robert,

It is a fascinating book to read. I hope you get the time to do it someday.

Robert Sacchi on August 11, 2020:

Good point. It should be a great read.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 11, 2020:

Hi Mary,

In many areas, books were scarce in the middle ages, and many people could not read even if there were books available. From what you wrote, I feel sure that you will genuinely enjoy reading 'The Walking Drum.' Enjoy!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2020:

Peggy, you made this book a must-read for me. I love historical fiction, and I just watched a movie on Cordoba during the Middle Ages when they burnt books and how some people took courage to protect them. I am sure I will enjoy this book.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 11, 2020:

Hi Devika,

This novel by Louis L'Amour is filled to the brim with all kinds of intrigues, battles, narrow escapes, and gives a person some insight as to what conditions were like centuries ago in that part of the world. I did not want to elaborate much more about the plot so that readers can fill in all kinds of blanks as they pick up this intriguing book to read. I hope you enjoy it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 11, 2020:

Hi Peggy I would read this The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour: Riveting Historical Fiction Novel. It sounds intriguing and you wrote an interesting review. I would have to get to read it from the review I feel this book is most entertaining and a different genre for me. I am glad you started reading it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 10, 2020:

Hi Linda,

As much as you enjoy education and learning, I believe that you would truly enjoy reading this book by Louis L'Amour. It gives us a glimpse into life during medieval times.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 10, 2020:

Thanks for sharing this interesting review, Peggy. I've never read any books by Louis L'Amour. It sounds like I should explore his work.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 10, 2020:

Hi Robert,

Supposedly, Louis L'Amour did extensive research before writing his books, even often traveling to the locations. So given the timeframe, it is probably about as accurate as he could make it. One can look up those names of places, and they do exist!

Robert Sacchi on August 10, 2020:

It does seem an interesting read. It would be interesting if someone who is familiar with the books setting chimes in on its accuracy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2020:

Hi MG Singh,

Yes, Louis L'Amour is well-known for writing countless western novels. The Walking Drum is a departure from his norm, but well worth the time to read. I enjoyed it even more than his westerns, good though they are.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on August 08, 2020:

Louis L'Amour is one of my favorite writers long with Zane Grey. If my memory serves me correct he wrote a lot of western novels like Zane Grey. Nice article about a writer who I like and in the bargain also reminded me of Zane Grey.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I thought of your writing style when I read the first page of this book. It starts with a bang, and the story continues to enthrall us page after page. I am sure that you would enjoy reading The Walking Drum in honor of your dad.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Opening the pages of this book led me on a journey that was so exciting that it was hard to put the book down. It is high on my list of memorable ones to tout to other readers.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2020:

My dad would only read this man's novels. Dog-eared copies of his westerns were in a box in the basement. Dad would go through them all and then start all over, reading each morning for an hour before leaving for work.

I wasn't aware he wrote anything other than westerns. Thanks for the information. I might give it a try in memory of my dad.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

I inherited a collection of Louis L'Amour books from my brother. Until I started reading them, I did not think that I would be a fan of western novels, but changed my mind because of the talent of this author. This book, however, stands out from the rest, in my opinion. It is fantastic!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2020:

This book sounds very really good and so different from what I typically read. I think your book review is excellent and truly gave us a good overview of this story. Thank you, Peggy.

Lorna Lamon on August 08, 2020:

I'm not a fan of Western novels, however, I love historical novels and this does sound like a great read, from this talented author. Great article Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi Doris,

I purposely did not want to write too much to spoil the fun of reading this entrancing book. I am glad to know that it caught your interest.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi Liza,

Once you start reading this Louis L'Amour book, you will probably wish toi read more. He is a terrific author!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 07, 2020:

I did not know that Louis L'Amour wrote anything but westerns. I think I've read a couple of them, but my brother was an avid L'Amour fan some years ago. This book is right up my alley, as they say. Right now I'm reading the outlander series, and I may pick up this one as soon as I'm finished.

You did a great job of introducing us to Mathurin and his adventures without including any spoilers. I look forward to reading it for myself.

Liza from USA on August 07, 2020:

First of all, I do not know the author. I always look for something new to read. Last week I was at the book store looking for a few books to read. The book you've shared here, I'll put on my list for future reading, Peggy. Thank you for sharing the review, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi Liz,

It was fascinating to learn about the historical figures, and places in history back during those medieval times as our main character moves through the many entanglements and action of this novel. I hope that someday you will have the chance to read this book.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 07, 2020:

You have done an excellent job of introducing this novel to us all, without giving away too much of the detail. You make it sound like an interesting read, which gives a little historical insight at the same time in a variety of different locations.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi Lee,

I was also surprised, but after reading about the author, Louis L'Amour has written about other subjects. He will probably always be remembered for his numerous western novels simply because of the sheer volume of them.

Lee A Barton from New Mexico on August 07, 2020:

I had no idea that Louis L'Amour wrote anything but Westerns! This sounds like a really interesting book, and as you say, something to take your mind off the pandemic and politics.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Yes, indeed, if you are looking to read something that will take your mind off of the pandemic and politics, this is the book to accomplish it. I highly recommend it!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi Ivana,

I am sure that you will find this book to your liking if what I wrote about it stirred your interest. It is non-stop action, and it is fascinating to learn about these places from a historical viewpoint.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi Ann,

What made this book more interesting for me was knowing that the names of places and historical figures in history were real. Learning about history in this way, while the tale is fiction, whets our appetite for learning more. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2020:

Hi John,

I have read perhaps 20 or more of his western stories, and they were all good. But this book is the best, by far, that I have ever read of Louis L'Amour's novels. I hope you enjoy reading it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 07, 2020:

My dad used to have a number of his western books, but this is certainly a different type of book from him. You certainly give him a good review. It would be a worthwhile Read, particularly to escape the pandemic and politics of the current day.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on August 07, 2020:

Such an engaging and wonderfully written article! I definitely need to add this novel to my reading list!

Ann Carr from SW England on August 07, 2020:

This sounds great, Peggy. I'm not usually a fan of historical novels but this is situated in a time that interests me greatly. I shall see if there is a kindle edition and definitely download it. You have whetted my appetite.

This is a great review, well-presented, and you tell us just enough to intrigue!


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 07, 2020:

This does sound like an intriguing and exciting read, Peggy. I have read a couple of Louis L‘Amour‘s books and one was not a western either. He was a really great writer. This was a very engaging review and I will certainly look at reading this book.

Related Articles