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The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey
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The Lone Star Ranger (1915)

by Zane Grey

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This isn't cassettes, but a downloadable audio book from Recorded Books via my library & listened to on my MP3 player. Ed Sala is the narrator & at first I didn't think I was going to like his voice. It's kind of scratchy, old & often drops too low, but it really fits the story, except for when he tries to do the female voices. Luckily, there are very few. Seriously, he's awful at them.

I pretty much quit reading most formulaic westerns years ago. They were cliches run rampant with plots laid out in the first few paragraphs. Grey is the reason. He was one of the first authors to become a millionaire & molded many of the violent, romantic myths of the old west. His success launched a host of imitators, many of whom used his version of the west as their own. So, I wasn't expecting a fresh western from Grey. After all, he first published this novel in 1914. He's old school & the last time I tried reading one of his novels, I wasn't too thrilled.

What really surprises & delights me about this story is just how well the cliched young, quick-draw, gone-down-the-wrong-road-but-good-at-heart-anyway kid is drawn. After looking at the back end of those cliches all these years, seeing it from the front end is surprisingly refreshing. How can that be? I don't really know, just that it is. I think part of that comes from the laconic, gravelly drawl of Sala, but no reader can make a poorly written story into a delight. There's an economy & down-home fun to Grey's prose that just makes it fun to listen to.

The story started out well for the first 9 chapters when I wrote the above. Chapter 10 suddenly bogs down with a loooong description of our hero's mental state. It was incredibly verbose & boring, pounding the same ideas into me until I was ready to surrender. Then the pace picked up & was good again for next 4 chapters until we reach the end of book 1. Unfortunately, there was some time travel going on. We skipped ahead a few years & then looked back, completely out of keeping with the story to this point, which had all been in the present tense. I'll give it 3 stars.

Chapter 15 is a new book & chapter in Buck's life & it breaks much of the previous mood. It starts out quite refreshingly, totally expected, but not terrible. I was glad to see the book get back on track & listened through chapter 16 with delight. Chapter 17 started out with a lot of promise & then suddenly the book becomes a complete train wreck. Stupid, gaping plot holes, horrible dialog, & so much less that it is not worth listening to, although I did. At the end, there is one slight, redeeming moment, Buck doesn't beat a bad guy to the draw but it was too little, too late, & really didn't help at all. One star rating.

All in all, it wasn't a complete waste of time. I may listen to [b:Riders of the Purple Sage|90160|Riders of the Purple Sage|Zane Grey|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320415192s/90160.jpg|2663060], one of his most famous books at some point, but I'll need some recovery time. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
What a delightful book for a summertime read. I'd never read a Zane Gray western before, and I have no idea if a majority of the others are this good, but I sure did enjoy The Lone Star Ranger. Certainly, there is a comic book aspect to the tale of good versus evil in the old west, but there is a depth of character that surprised me as we see Buck Duane, our hero, forced into outlawry against his will and living the following years struggling to keep the better side of his character predominant over his temper and his killer's instinct. (He is, of course, the fastest gun in Texas.)

There are some quite interesting plot developments and, of course, a fast-paced story that brings our hero through a series of soul- and gun-testing adventures. But sometimes the story slows down, and we are treated to some excellent descriptions of the Texas landscape. The forays into descriptions of human behavior are sometimes very entertaining, as well, as for example:

"It seemed strange that a man who had lived west of the Pecos for ten years could not see in Duane something which forbade that kind of talk. It certainly was not nerve Lawson showed; men of courage were seldom intolerant. With the matchless nerve that characterized the great gunmen of the day there was a cool unobtrusive manner, a speech brief, almost gentle, certainly courteous. Lawson was hot-headed. A man, evidently who had never been crossed in anything, and who was strong, brutal, passionate, which qualities in the face of a situation like this made him simply a fool."

What was also fun about reading The Lone Star Ranger for me was my copy of the book itself. This is a first edition hard cover, published in 1915. But this is no pristine museum copy. The book is a discard from the Alameda, CA, Public Library, purchased by me a few years back at some thrift shop or antique store: I can't remember which. On the inside front cover is written, in pencil, the single word, "Sale," so I picked the book off a sale table, evidently.

The pages are worn thin and at times the corners are worn away. As I read, I thought of the dozens, or probably hundreds, of readers, likely of all ages, who held this book in their hands and enjoyed this story before me. ( )
2 vote rocketjk | Jul 18, 2010 |
Walter J. Black, Inc., Zane Grey Book Club Matched Set, hardcover, 1975?
  2wildravens | Jul 27, 2007 |
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So it was in him, then - in inherited fighting instinct, a driving intensity to kill.
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An unabridged version was published in 1996 as The Last of the Duanes.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765357305, Mass Market Paperback)

As the son of an infamous gunfighter, Buck Duane has the natural instincts and lightening-quick reflexes of his father. After killing a man in self-defense, he becomes an outlaw living amongst gunfighters and bandits on the Texas-Mexico border.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:46 -0400)

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"In the law of the gun, a man must shoot his way to innocence. At least that's how Captain McKelly of the Texas Rangers puts it to Buck Duane. On the run for killing a man to save his own skin, Duane must now infiltrate the deadly Chelsedine gang. These ruthless rustlers are running amok in Texas and it's going to take a matchless gunfighter to stop their rampage. With the legendary Rangers providing firepower, Duane has more than a fighting chance. Or so he thinks. When he uncovers a secret that could destroy them all, the bullet storm is biblical - and a legend rises out of the dust." -- Back cover… (more)

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100968, 1400109329

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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