Monday, June 21, 2010

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Source: LibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 10 hr, 45 min
Reader: Laurie Anne Walden

The book: On the frontier of Utah, Jane Withersteen, a member of the Mormon faith, owns a prosperous ranch. But as the Notorious B.I.G. once said, "mo' cattle, mo' problems" (or was that "moo cattle"?). The corrupt Mormon leader Elder Tull wants to force Jane to marry him to add to both his wealth and his harem. Her non-Mormon friend Bern Venters is being harassed and threatened. Then, an entire herd of her cattle is stolen, probably by the fearsome outlaw Oldring and his mysterious accomplice, the Masked Rider. Into all this turmoil rides Lassiter, a gunfighter and well-known killer of Mormons.

Like the other Zane Grey novel I've reviewed, The Lone Star Ranger, the novel consists of two main plots: the relationship of Jane and Lassiter and the exploits of Bern Venters against the Oldring gang. Unlike that other book, the multiple plots of this novel are intertwined and overlapping, creating a complex story. If you haven't read many westerns, this is a great introduction. Unlike later westerns, it maintains the conventions of the genre, but with more depth and interest than some of its pulpy brothers.

Rating: 9/10

The reader: Walden does not perform this work with multiple voices and strong emotion. Instead she reads clearly, smoothly, and simply. She lightly inflects her voice to carry the meaning of the story without overwhelming it. Her pleasant Southern accent fits in well with this novel. The recording is clear and well-made.

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