Of the three novels that comprise Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, Cities of the Plain is probably the least realized. McCarthy buries the plot in a wealth of details and sidetracks. The details are amazing, the sidetracks rich, but they distract from the overall thrust of the novel. When McCarthy gets back to the main action, there is the feeling that something vital has been lost. The sense of urgency between the two main characters has been all but submerged. Loose ends just don't tie together
Certainly, this novel should be read. As part of the trilogy, it is a necessary addition. The coda provides an end to the Billy Parham saga. But the book gets lost along the way. The reader just needs to hang on and trust McCarthy’s skills as a storyteller to get us there.