Pale Morning Done, a rancher/fishing guide in Montana has to work with the land to create his ideal fly fishing resort. Marshall Tate channels a spring on his ranch and carves out a stream to make a habitat for trout. He works tirelessly with and against the land in a never ending effort to make his dream come true.
The setting of Montana is a character that cannot be overlooked in this novel. Marshall’s desire to build his resort also comes from his passion of reclaiming the land from the toils of ranching to its natural state. When he witnesses a sunset over the Scapegoat Mountains or watches the trout feed on a summer float through the Bitterroot River's crystal clear water, it is easy to understand his love for nature and the land that he lives in. Montana’s beauty and splendor influence the characters of this novel with its own magnificent character. Its charming character is seen in the towering ponderosa pines, the big blue sky that never ends, and the mountains that sing in their silent power.
But Montana’s character also contains a darker side. Montana is a wild place, coming from East Coast suburbia I had to recognize this early on in order to approach this massive being that is Montana with the care that it calls for. Within the beautiful scenery of Montana lurk powers that should not be trifled with. Whether it is lumbering through the woods into a grizzly bear or getting caught on a mountain top in a lightning storm these forces can overwhelm and possibly be the end of you.
With all of these different elements put together Montana has to be recognized as a sentient being. Its mountains speak of time that no one else has seen, its waters run through the land with secrets from the high country, its landscape creates unpredictable and temperamental weather, and its wildlife moves at a rhythmic heart beat set by its nature.