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Riders of the Purple Sage (1912)

by Zane Grey

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1,788619,547 (3.42)159
Fiction. Western. HTML:

Zane Grey's best-known novel, Riders of the Purple Sage, was first published in 1912. One of the earliest Western novels, it tells the story of Jane Withersteen's struggle to overcome persecution within her Mormon church. With the help of her friends, she overcomes adversity to find herself, a child who needs her and her true love in the process.

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  1. 10
    A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (TineOliver)
    TineOliver: Both books deal with views on Mormonism by outsiders at the beginning of the 20th Century. This recommendation is only for those who are interested in this aspect as the novels cover different genres.

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Riders of the Purple Sage is a book I might have enjoyed when I was a less mature reader, both in years and in taste. Living up to the jacket blurb claiming that "Zane Grey epitomized the mythical West that should have been", it is filled with cliched characters and a standard plot of good against evil, with good triumphant. A virtuous woman torn between the requirements of her Mormon faith and her goodwill towards her unwashed fellow man. A rich man determined to bring her to heel by putting her where a woman of the 1800s belongs. A ranch hand hounded by the townspeople because he dares to befriend the woman despite not being a member of their faith. A hardened gunfighter seeking revenge for the death of the woman he loved. A mysterious outlaw, the Masked Rider, who terrorizes all who interfere with his cattle rustling. All crossing paths in a small town in Utah where law comes from the barrel of a smoking gun.

Riders of the Purple Sage, Zane Grey's best known novel, is an easy, predictable read that provides a satisfying story if read strictly as entertainment. ( )
  skavlanj | Apr 14, 2024 |
Just a little too melodramatic for me. But I can see why it's a classic. DNF
  TheGalaxyGirl | Oct 7, 2023 |
I have never read Zane Grey and didn't know what to expect from Riders of the Purple Sage. I was surprised when the villains were the Mormon elders who are working to "break" a woman who refuses to marry again and give her up ranch. She is saved by an unlikely hero. I enjoyed Grey's sprawling story and descriptions of the Utah/Arizona border. ( )
  witchyrichy | Aug 30, 2023 |
This little 140 page book, published in 1912 by dentist and writer, Zane Grey, supposedly set the tone for all western novels moving forward. But, unfortunately, it only gets 2 stars out of 5 from me.

The story takes place in the canyons of Utah, and possibly references Arches National Park as we know it today. The author mentions an arch and a balancing rock where the base had been chiseled just enough by early Indians to provide protection in Deception Pass when pushed....but it would mean entrapment in the valley forever for whoever pushed it over.

Jane Withersteen, a single, wealthy, God-fearing heiress is up against crooked Mormons trying to break her. She must stop helping the gentiles in the area and marry the Mormon minister or else be extricated from the community. But, Lassiter comes along just in the nick of time and they fall in love. He helps her to see where her priorities lie. She will have to leave her home and everything she's ever known and loved behind.

We are always taught to be descriptive when writing, to show instead of tell, but the author was so overly descriptive, filling every sentence with adjective after adjective after adjective. He wanted you to see in your mind's eye the beautiful "purple sage" skies and landscape of Utah. In fact, he wasn't going to let you forget it. About every other paragraph mentions the "purple sage" in one instance or another and finally ends with the last chapter titled, Riders of the Purple Sage.

There just seemed to be a lot missing in the story, including telling more of the two romances, which seemed to be a focal point of the story. He failed to draw me in to care for or even to fall in love with the characters. After all of the overly descriptions in the whole story, it ended abruptly for you to come to your own conclusions. Hm!

There were 4 movies produced from the book: 1918, 1925, 1941, and the latest in 1996, starring Ed Harris as Lassiter and his love Amy Madigan as Jane Withersteen, and Henry Thomas as Bern Venters and his love Robin Tunney as Elizabeth Erne. Now, the movie was actually pretty darn good and gets about a 4 stars out of 5, which was actually filmed in beautiful Arizona, and not in Utah. It showed more of a connection between the two couples and the insane hypocracy of the Mormon men. In the end, they got what they deserved. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Had I not had the clever idea of reading a canonical and a contemporary novel of the American west simultaneously, my response to this work would undoubtedly have been more favorable. But next to the work of a master like Cormac McCarthy (in this case, the novel The Crossing), what becomes painfully clear is that the story of the American cowboy was always one of Camusian existentialism, and it just took nearly 100 years for that language to evolve and for the genre to find its full flowering. ( )
  BeauxArts79 | Jul 10, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zane Greyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, Lee ClarkIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tompkins, JaneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A sharp clip-clop of iron-shod hoofs deadened and died away, and clouds of yellow dust drifted from under the cottonwoods out over the sage.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Western. HTML:

Zane Grey's best-known novel, Riders of the Purple Sage, was first published in 1912. One of the earliest Western novels, it tells the story of Jane Withersteen's struggle to overcome persecution within her Mormon church. With the help of her friends, she overcomes adversity to find herself, a child who needs her and her true love in the process.


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