Zane Grey’s – Riders of the Purple Sage

riders of the purple sage My Father is smiling as me from the great beyond. I am listeding to my first western novel. My parents basement is full of paperback westerns that he had read.  Even someone like me, who’s never read a western before has heard of Zane Grey, so when I saw this on the library shelf, I thought I’d give it a try. I was particularly draw to this book because the back cover explains how in the early 1900s, when Zane took the manuscript of this story to publishers, they wouldn’t print it for fear of offending reader with it’s talk of Mormon polygamy. When someone did end up printing it, they changed the story to make it more palatable.

The audio book I’m listening to is from the original manuscript. It is narratered by the talented Mark Bramhall. I especially like Mark’s portrial of Lassiter – the main gunman in the story, who, of course, wears all black leather and practically sleeps with his guns. This rough and tumble loner comes to protect a Mormon woman by the name of Jane, who is persecuted by the men of power in her community because she refuses to bend to their will, as the other Morman woman do. Quite unusual for the time and place, but still it’s a good story of beautiful scenary, tough country living, and good vs evil.

Here is a passage I partiularly liked. It is Lassiter talking to Jane after the Bishop in her community has come to help Jane mend her ways. Lassiter comes upon them and doesn’t like the tone of the man’s speech. When the Bishop sees Lassiter – a known gunman – he foolishly tries to draw his gun on him. Here is some of what he tells Jane happened, after she fainted. “I’ve seen runnin’ molasses that was quicker than him… I seen he was a Mormon all over, and I couldn’t get serious about shootin’, so I winged ’em… I told ’em, ‘he’d introduced himself sufficient and to please move out of my vicinity, and he went.”

I’m most of the way through the story, and I’m still not sure how it will end. It think that’s a testament to the writing skill of Mr. Grey. Riders of the Purple Sage is an entertaining read and I’d recommend it to anyone.


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