There's no escaping it. I love The Dark o' the Moon. When forced to put my finger on why I prefer it to The Raiders or Silver Sand there is one outstanding reason. Hector Faa.
Strict historians will tell you that the history is compromised, and of course the events cannot fit realistically into the 'actual' timeline of history - Crockett has truncated time to suit his purposes, and the sub-plot can be a bit questionable BUT for me, everything is forgiven for the descriptions of Hector Faa.
He is hero as villain (cut from the same cloth as Heathcliff) and while he may evoke memories of Long John Silver and Captain Hook, he is way beyond pantomime villain, absolutely captivating and the perfect foil to his brother John/Silver Sand.
Add to that the incredible natural description in the novel and it's four hundred pages of sheer pleasure. The Sheil o the Dungeon of Buchan is my favourite place in the world (even if fictional) and the escape in the dark over the Dungeon Range is as exciting an experience as I need to get in fact or fiction.
All I can say is that, if you liked The Raiders, in which Hector has a small but significant part, you should really enjoy The Dark o' The Moon in which he truly comes into his own.
But I'd love to know what other readers think.
‘The Raiders’ is alive and throbbing with the Gallwegian spirit; the strong and wholesome air of the hills and seas of the Stewartry blows through it...’
‘...when we give chase to the raiders who have made the ‘red cock crow’ on the roof of Craigdarraoch and carried off May Mischief and many head of Galloway nolt to the hills, we are led on to solid ground.
Every step of the way can be followed to the ford of the Black Water of Dee, the Links of the Cooran, the Wolf’s Slock, and the outlaw’s hold in the isle of Loch Enoch, behind the shoulder of Merrick and back again by Glentrool and the Cruives of Cree.’
This was a review in ‘The Scotsman’ in March 1894 (probably by Andrew Lang) which was the first of many reviews (mostly favourable). However, some people didn’t like it. W.E.Henley was not a fan (though he had a personal axe to grind) and (so someone on Wikipedia tells me) George Gissing thought it was ‘wearisome.’ No accounting for tastes!
Here we welcome your thoughts… just add your comment below:
On the character of Silver Sand - from The Raiders, Dark o' The Moon and Silver Sand.
‘I like his duality, that he is a person of two worlds in a multitude of ways, in his parentage, his education, his choices in life, and when he is old, although he is the King of the Gypsies, he lives very simply, out of doors for the most part. And of course, when it comes right down to it, he is willing to die for his people. I have all sorts of wild ideas about how a book about his son would have turned out had Crockett lived longer.’