The Pass
A Novel

Thomas Savage
with an introduction by O. Alan Weltzien

Drumlummon Montana Literary Masters Series

Published in collaboration with Riverbend Publishing (

336 pages
$12.95 softcover
ISBN 978-1-60639-001-6

The Pass is available in fine bookstores everywhere. To order a copy, send $12.95, plus $4.05 shipping & handling, to:

Drumlummon Institute
402 Dearborn Ave. #3
Helena, MT 59601

“It is incomprehensible that [Thomas] Savage is so neglected. . . . The canon builders of the West have made regional flattery with its big skies, men to match the mountains, and geographies of hope such an obligation that a subtle practitioner like Savage goes unnoticed. In my view, Savage may be the best of all the western novelists, after Cather.”

—Thomas McGuane, Montana The Magazine of Western History

“I'd never heard of Thomas Savage until I came across Riverbend Publishing and the Drumlummon Institute's recent reprint of 1944's The Pass, and after falling into this beautiful, multi-layered, funny, heart-wrenching novel of the Montana prairie, I'm kicking myself for not reading his books sooner.”

Jenny Shank, New West

“I consider Thomas Savage's first novel [The Pass] a minor classic.”

—Library Journal

“Montana-grown author Thomas Savage's first book, orginally published in 1944, returns to print, bringing with it the writer's profound empathy and sensitivity to the harsh western landscape and the people who struggled to survive drought and endless winters.
“Reading Savage for the first time is like unearthing a gem, his characters complex and his writing sharp-edged and gleaming.”

—Kristi Niemeyer, [Montana] State of the Arts, July/August 2009

Best known for his acclaimed novels The Power of the Dog and The Sheep Queen, Thomas Savage (1915-2003) was an extraordinary chronicler of the American West.

The Pass,
his first novel, was published by Doubleday in 1944, and it set the stage for several of Savage's later novels which, in the words of Annie Proulx, capture a “family complexity of names and identities, of east coast culture and western mountains, of manual labor and writing, of a lost past and private secrets.”

The Pass tells the compelling, often tragic story of the founding of a family ranch in the high country along the Montana-Idaho border, where Savage spent his youth.

Proulx writes of The Pass, “The novel is studded with brilliant portraits that already display Savage's masterly ability to show the inner lives of characters, especially women. . . . The language and thinking of the ranch people in The Pass [are] strikingly vivid. . . . A sense of great longing and sympathy for the western landscape colors this novel.”

“Savage's voice is a wonder. . . . He deserves to be discovered by more readers.”

New York Times Book Review