Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey

Source: Librivox
Length: 11 hr, 12 min
Reader: Mark F. Smith

The book: Lone Star Ranger is an exciting Western that follows the career of Buck Duane, a young man who kills a cowboy in a gunfight, then flees his home to escape the law. As he travels the wilds of Texas, Duane gains a reputation for both his gunfighting skills and his sense of justice. This reputation attracts the attention of both outlaws and lawmen, leading Duane to be pursued by both.

Grey writes about a Wild West that is a man's world. Duane is the white-hat gunfighter: handsome, haunted, and fatalistic. Women unfailingly fall in love with him, whether they are of the dark temptress or damsel in distress archetype. Looked at from a modern perspective, Grey's purple prose and stereotypes are uncomfortable, if not nearly laughable.

As backwards as Grey's writing may seem by today's standards, he does deliver up an exciting yarn. Every chapter has at least one action scene, and Grey mixes these up: gunfights, fistfights, chases and hiding all take their turn as Grey moves his hero across the landscape. The plot throws in so many twists and turns that by the second half of the novel, I felt I had already read an entire book. It's easy to see why Zane Grey remains a popular author, and if you can get past the flaws, this is an entertaining listen.

Rating: 6/10

The reader: This recording is of excellent quality with almost no background noise. Mark F. Smith has a steady, somber reading voice which adds weight and an understated excitement to this book. His normally slow pacing builds suspense when needed and carries the action at a faster pace. He impersonates a reasonably good Texas drawl when appropriate, but doesn't ham it up too much, though I did almost laugh out loud when he delivers the last chapter's Librivox disclaimer in character.

No comments: