Leonard’s laconic style is well suited to Westerns. The writing in this novel is as terse as the characters. It is those characters that make this novel what it is. While Leonard does not waste a lot of words, his characters are always well fleshed out, complex and, most importantly, believable. It goes without saying that people are complex and Leonard captures this complexity as well as any novelist writing today.
Last Stand at Saber River is, on some levels a deconstruction of the classic Western. Leonard sets up a classic confrontation and, while the novel does not shy away from violence, the morality of that violence does not go unexplored. War is war, self-defense is self-defense and murder is murder. When those lines start to blur, a moral man will weigh his actions carefully and that conflict is the heart of this book.