Oklahoma Odyssey


Oklahoma Odyssey

A Novel

John Mort

324 pages
2 illustrations


April 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

A 2022 Great Group Reads selection
​2023 Silver Medal in Western Traditional Fiction for the Will Rogers Medallion Award

In late fall of 1892 outlaw Eddie Mole gallops down the main street of Jericho Springs, Kansas, where he robs and shoots dead the freighter Barney Kreider. Some urge Barney’s son Ulysses (“Euly”) to take revenge, but Euly is a Mennonite and Mennonites don’t seek revenge. Instead, Euly plots how to make his fortune with the aid of his half-Osage sister, Kate, and his friend Johnny, an Osage farmhand. The three make a plan to sell goods and livestock to the settlers converging on Caldwell, Kansas, for the land run going on in the Cherokee Outlet. When Johnny tracks Eddie into the Cherokee Outlet, he witnesses Buffalo Soldiers evicting Eddie from a ranch, leaving it public domain, and Johnny and Kate make the run for that beautiful land. Euly follows close behind, even as Eddie, riding from Arkansas City, tries to reclaim his old ranch.

John Mort’s narrative is an anti-revenge novel—always opting for nonviolence. But there’s violence nevertheless, as Eddie’s and Barney’s survivors converge in a rousing finish. Though this novel uses some of the architecture and motifs of traditional westerns, it is carefully researched and set in the unfolding of a pivotal, neglected historical event.

Author Bio

John Mort is a writer and farmer. He is the author of eleven books, including Soldier in Paradise and Down along the Piney: Ozark Stories. His short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New Yorker, Missouri Review, the Chicago Tribune, the Arkansas Review, and Sixfold.


"The land run in the final act of the five is as well a rousing and memorable read, swirling all three major characters in a collision with Mole and their destinies. Here Mort demonstrates the thrills, tensions, and joys in his formidable kit of writing skills. If he wished to write the chaps and spurs, white-versus black-hat Western, these passages assure the reader he could have. But Mort had something grander in mind, and in rollicking measures, he achieves it."—Steve Yates, Western American Literature

"A stirring episodic adventure worthy of a reader's time."—Vernon Schmid, Roundup Magazine

"[Oklahoma Odyssey is] a richly detailed depiction of the daily life of a Mennonite farmer in the late-nineteenth century and a thoughtful rumination on the ways that life might be altered by the encroachment of modern technology (steam-powered cars and threshers, for example). Fans of historical fiction and literary westerns in the Larry McMurtry tradition will find much to like here."—David Pitt, Booklist

"Oklahoma Odyssey includes a lot of interesting details based on a significant amount of research Mort undertook. It's what I consider 'quiet research' because the facts never slow down or interfere with Mort’s great storytelling. At its heart, this is a story about family and how even the strongest of bonds can be tested in stressful times."—Bill McCloud, VVA Veteran

“One might expect a tale of murder and revenge à la True Grit, but John Mort has chosen, with his Mennonites in a new world, to tell a much richer, more forgiving story. And it’s a damn good one, culminating in that last land run. . . . I cannot recommend it highly enough.”—Tim Bazzett, author of Soldier Boy

“A spirited wide-angle Western with a revenge story at its core. . . . Deeply researched and empathetically imagined, this story explores the problematic convergence of Osages and Mennonites, pacifism and prejudice, as two sort-of brothers and a maybe-sister seek their fortunes in stolen territory. An invigorating read.”—Janet Burroway, author of Cutting Stone

Oklahoma Odyssey, rich in character and western history, draws you in and doesn’t let go.”—Monty McCord, author of Mundy’s Law

Oklahoma Odyssey has original, non-stereotyped characters and a wealth of details from everyday life. The characterization conveys . . . a commendable ethical view of human nature. At the same time, it does not indulge it what seems to be the prevailing practice of dishing up violence and sensationalism.”—John Nesbitt, author of West of Dancing Rock

Oklahoma Odyssey perfectly captures the era of the Oklahoma land rush in a story that is rich in historical detail. . . . Mort surrounds Euly with a compelling cast of characters and a story that both surprises and feels inevitable. It’s a terrific book that illuminates a lesser-known part of American history with a plot that will keep you reading through its crisp turns.”—Steve Wiegenstein, author of Scattered Lights and the Daybreak Series

“As mythology is a hybrid of history and lore, so too is Oklahoma Odyssey, with a slurry of characters with crosses to bear as they inhabit the borderland of Kansas and Oklahoma Territory. . . . Mort’s keen attention to detail and refusal to oversimplify and homogenize keep the tension elevated in this commanding portrait of Americana.”—Sidney Thompson, author of the Bass Reeves Trilogy

Table of Contents



A 2022 Great Group Reads selection
2023 Silver Medal in Western Traditional Fiction for the Will Rogers Medallion Award

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