All the Pretty Horses did not have the pervasive and insane violence of Blood Meridian, although by now I'm thinking it would be impossible for McCarthy to write a peaceful story; and there is certainly enough bloodshed and killing. John Grady Cole is a sixteen-year-old boy who lived in West Texas on a ranch with his grandfather until his grandfather dies. His parents are separated and his mother is going to sell the ranch. Threatened with the thought of losing his way of life, Cole and his best friend Rawlins take their horses and head down to Mexico. Rawlins and Cole have a very quiet and loyal friendship and partnership. They soon meet up with Jimmy Blevins who is constantly getting into trouble, but the pair ends up getting a job at a large Hacienda where Cole falls in love with the owner's daughter.
I thought this book was a lot easier to read than Blood Meridian. Not only was the story much easier to follow, but John Grady Cole was a very likable protagonist. His loyalty and basic decency--no matter the circumstances--as well as his affinity and competence with horses and the ranching way of life made him something of an epic hero. But liking him just made watching him go through his journey that much more painful, and the relationships Cole forges throughout the story are unforgettable. I'm definitely going to have to read the rest of McCarthy's books.