Review of ‘Riders of the Purple Sage’

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Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey was originally published in 1912, and is traditionally considered the first true western, a book that shaped the genre for generations to follow.

It is the story of Lassiter, an enigmatic gunslinger from Texas who is hated and feared by the Mormon settlers in northern Utah. Lassiter’s path crosses with Jane Witherspoon, a single Mormon woman, who has defied the edict of the church that she marry the elder in her town.

When Lassiter arrives, a hidden grave on Jane’s property leads him to a quest that he’s been on for a long time—to determine the fate of his sister who had married a charismatic Mormon and fled her home in Texas.

Grey was a master wordsmith who could paint the most vivid pictures imaginable of the Old West and the people who populated it. While some of the narrative and dialogue shows the prejudices against Mormons that existed at the time Grey first wrote the story, it has a sense of veracity and credibility despite its lack of political correctness in modern times.

For fans of the genre, though, this is a book that is required reading, for it helps put all that followed it into the proper perspective.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

A great Western, but more than the sage is purple. Zane, like many of his generation, was given to purple prose, which is really not my cup of tea, so I only give it four stars.

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