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Riders of the Purple Sage

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,244 Ratings  ·  648 Reviews
Told by a master storyteller who, according to critic Russell Nye, “combined adventure, action, violence, crisis, conflict, sentimentalism, and sex in an extremely shrewd mixture,” Riders of the Purple Sage is a classic of the Western genre. It is the story of Lassiter, a gunslinging avenger in black, who shows up in a remote Utah town just in time to save the young and be ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 10th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1912)
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Steven A recently published edition actually contains both the original and the sequel, here titled "The Rainbow Trail".
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Best Westerns
7th out of 764 books — 970 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyTrue Grit by Charles Portis
Literary Westerns
24th out of 125 books — 217 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I've been bamboozled! Duped! Hoodwinked! Fraudulated! Deceived! I've fallen victim to tomfoolery! Shenanigans! Monkeyshines! Nefarious antics!

(What's that? Yes, I do own a thesaurus. Why do you ask?)

This tricky man Zane Grey fooled me into reading a book of the genre I swore I never would read: the official genre of grocery stores and bargain racks everywhere, capital-R Romance.

It all began innocently enough. For one thing, this Riders of the Purple Sage is published by Modern Library. It has b
Aug 26, 2012 El rated it liked it

Sage sage sage sage, sage sage Mormon sage. Purple sage sage sage and Gentiles, sage sage sage sage and sage. Sage! Sage sage sage sage riders sage sage. Sage sage if sage sage thunder. Sage sage sage; sage sage sage sage. Mormons sage sage sage sage, sage sage shot, sage sage sage sage. And sage sage.

There were some other words and stuff, but really this book is about sage. Mormons, Gentiles, and some other things are mentioned, but the focus is on the sage. The color of the sage, the t
Scott Rhee
Oct 02, 2015 Scott Rhee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage" is probably one of the most famous westerns ever written, but, despite its popularity since it was first published in 1912, the book may not hold as significant a place in the Canon of the American West for the simple reason that, until 2005, many people had never actually read the book that Grey wrote.

When it was first published, as a serial in Field & Stream magazine, the editors had trimmed much of the original manuscript. When it was ultimately re-
Lewis Weinstein
Jul 20, 2014 Lewis Weinstein rated it it was amazing
Set in 1871, published in 1912. This story is far more than a western adventure, although it is surely that. There are deep and tender relationships among the characters, including impressive and moving portrayals of the two women who are central to the story. There are also many matchless descriptions of the magnificent western landscape.

But what is most powerful is the scathing denunciation of the vicious Mormon practices of control exercised against anyone who stands up against the leadershi
Oct 03, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
Reading a classic Western novel was a to-do on my book bucket list. I'm not sure why because I've never had a high opinion of TV or movie westerns. After finishing Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey I can scratch "classic Western" off my list and add another 4-star book to the "read" column.

Oh yeah, there is some cheesy, over-dramatic scenes in this book, particularly at the end. There is the courageous too-good-to-be-true heroine, several men who want her, beautiful sunsets and numerous men
Dec 17, 2009 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vacationers at the beach; romance aficionados; Western enthusiasts
Recommended to Jim by: Scenery of SD; my dad
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Before I opened this book, I thought it was just a fundamental cowboy story, and indeed, as I read it anonymous images coaxed from every Western movie I’ve ever seen interjected themselves into the experience. (For some reason – I don’t know why – I couldn’t help but envision Humphrey Bogart as “Lassiter”, the taciturn protagonist, ostensibly honorable, yet willing killer - of Mormons in particular). My expectation – and I’m also not sure why – was a novel a
Mar 15, 2015 Duane rated it really liked it
There are hundreds of novels written in the genre of "American Westerns", most of them written in the first half of the 20th century. Riders of the Purple Sage is probably the best of the group. Many people will consider it dated and sterotypical, but Zane Grey was a good writer and he captures with his words the stark beauty of the land and the essence of life in this ever changing landscape. It's worth reading from the historical and romantic aspect of the story.
Alison Smith
This read comes under the heading of Auld Lang Syne. Revisiting beloved books after many, many years is not always a good thing. In my childhood/early teens I devoured ALL of Zne Grey's cowboy novels, and loved them. I discovered, this time around, with the help of Wikipaedia, that ZG was a prolific writer - author of more than 90 books (!!) including two on hunting, and eight on fishing. He is credited with 'inventing' the genre of the Old West - sanitized and moralized. What I enjoyed during m ...more
Henry Avila
Aug 12, 2011 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lassiter is a very angry man.His sister and only living relative, disappears from her home in Texas. (The only person he loves in the world) Kidnapped?Who knows,but the brother will search as long as it takes ,to find her.(Similar to The Searchers film) After years on the long weary road, the gunman discovers the sister, in an unmarked lonely grave, in southern Utah.The former cowboy seaks revenge, he has killed before, he will again .Complications occur when he meets Jane Withersteen , a rich l ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Mac rated it liked it
Riders of the Purple Sage has so much going for it--a dangerous gunslinger, a mysterious "Masked Rider" who later presents a big surprise, polygamy and multiple romances, religious conflict, stunning landscapes, cattle rustlers, chase scenes with good guy-bad guy confrontations, callow youths maturing right before our eyes, truth telling and lies, all woven into a clever, complex plot that ties everything together (too) neatly in the end. Of course, with all this, the novel is over-the-top, but ...more
Jun 12, 2016 Elinor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this iconic Western novel because it is on so many Best Westerns list, and has been made into a movie FIVE times. I anticipated the usual good guys in white hats versus bad guys in black hats conflict, but I was surprised to find that the bad guys are all Mormons! There is a whole religious context in which the poor beleaguered heroine is being pressured by the evil Mormons into marrying a church elder who wants to get his hands on her ranch. The gunslinger who arrives in town ...more
Jen Hirt
Eeeeek... Why am I reading a western from 1912? Because my adventures keep intersecting with Zane Grey's life -- I drive through Zanesville, Ohio (his birthplace) all the time, and in a few weeks I'm renting a cabin near his Pennsylvania farm (now a museum) and burial site. My cabin-comrades and I all agreed to each read a Zane Grey novel, then discuss it (possibly in the style of Drunk History), then head to the Zane Grey museum and gravesite the next day. So I've taken down his bestseller, whi ...more
Jan 22, 2012 kent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic western, originally published in 1912 a mere 40 years after the story took place. It's squeaky clean by todays standards, a few mentions of her "heaving breast" and a kiss or two.
The story uses a third person narrator to tell the story from the point of view of two main characters Bern Venter and Jane Withersteen and a few minor characters.
Withersteen is the heir of her fathers huge estate and is courted by the Mormon preacher who wants to add her to his family and the her fortune to h
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 05, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Idiot's Guide to the Ultimare Reading List
Set in the Utah of 1871, it deals with a Mormon woman, heir to a ranch, resisting pressures to become a junior wife of a Mormon elder. I tried this because it's recommended on The Ultimate Reading List in the Western section. This is Zane Grey's most famous novel, supposedly one that set the mold for the Western genre and published way back in 1912--which doesn't make this a classic. Indeed, I'm afraid the "purple" in the title is sadly apt. Here's a snippet of the the puerile writing:

"If you d
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 29, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
Shelves: western
I read a large number of Zane Grey books back in the 60s and 70s and this one is a story of almost iconic proportions. The gunman in black who seemingly rides in from nowhere, but here we fill in a lot of the usual blanks.

Warning: The book is very well written (a little dated, and florid in places. My dad always said Grey could spend 2 pages describing a bush.) and an exciting story. I think I ought to mention however that the book features a rather unflattering view of Mormons. I won't make apo
Aug 13, 2015 Ted rated it it was amazing
This isn't really a review, because the only thing I remember about this book is that I read it over fifty years ago. Probably ought to read it again, I'm sure it would be fun.

It would be interesting to see what I felt about Grey's writing style, now that I've spent five decades reading scores of many more accomplished and more literary authors.

Perhaps it wouldn't stand up to that five-star vague recollection.
Abigail Hartman
Apr 04, 2016 Abigail Hartman rated it liked it
Not being a great reader of Westerns, I did not expect much from this novel: I had a general idea in my head of Zane Grey being the Nicholas Sparks of his genre, churning out a lot of bestsellers all with essentially the same plot. Since I haven't read any other Grey novels, I can't comment on the plot aspect. With "Riders," however, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing; while I didn't find it amazing, necessarily, it has a depth and sensitivity I was not expecting to find. T ...more
Lauren Hawkins
Apr 17, 2016 Lauren Hawkins rated it liked it
Shelves: class-reading
Although the writing and storytelling were well done, I found this hard to get through and didn't like the representation of women in this novel.
Sue Cauhape
Mar 10, 2016 Sue Cauhape rated it really liked it
The edition of Riders of the Purple Sage that I read was a printing of the original manuscript that was published in 2006 by Leisure Historical Fiction. Jon Tuska worked with Grey's grandson to bring this original manuscript to the light of day.

It is beautiful in its descriptions of the country and the pathos of the characters. This is the version that Grey wanted to be published but was not; instead his manuscript was heavily cut and edited to the tastes of the editor. When Grey received his p
Oct 13, 2013 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I've decided to read some westerns to see why my Dad liked them when he was younger. This was a good choice, it was quite a story, unexpected in parts. Grey is a crafty writer, excellent with action and scenery. You can feel places, though, where he's adding words as if he's paid by the word. Lassiter keeps saying "Jane" in front of every paragraph of speech to Jane, for instance. And "I reckon" gets annoying after a dozen times. And there are a few plot twists that are just too much, like in th ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
There's a long introduction to this edition which discusses gender and sexuality in the novel and how they relate to its enduring popularity. At one point the essayist wonders why the initial audience included such a high proportion of women. This seems obvious to me; the story consists of two romances! There's been a female audience for novels of romance ever since they were invented.

So I was not really expecting romance, more a written version of the film High Plains Drifter or some such. Well
Thom Swennes
Feb 21, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1912, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey became a classic in American literary history. It is really no wonder why this story of the untamed west inspired and struck the imaginations of millions. The Wild West has been depicted in copious numbers of books, movies and television series. This was because it was a unique time. As inimitable as it was, few stop to think that it lasted just twenty years. After the Civil War, America and Americans had the time and desire to expa ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Jill rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-lit
Unbelievably, painfully sappy and over-the-top melodramatic, some of which I hope was deliberate. I've never known a male to write such slushy romance. The characters are exaggerated to perfection, as if there were a checklist to include every stereotype suitable for the Western genre. His men are all "men's men" and his women are perfectly docile, beautiful, emotional idiots. Though Grey is thorough in his scathingly hate-filled portrayal of the LDS, he apparently didn't have sufficient time or ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t believe I read the whole thing. Actually, I didn’t; I started skimming halfway through. The plot is obvious and the writing repetitive. Sentimental, though many of the sentiments are foreign today. Fortunately, it ends strong.

Hard to believe this is Grey’s best-selling book. Lassiter is, of course, a cliché but Grey deserves credit for making his type so iconic, diminished not enhanced by his broken verbiage. Jane was a stereotype which modern writers (and readers) eschew, though she fin
Linda Rowland
Nov 11, 2014 Linda Rowland rated it really liked it
Three for the enjoyment of the book and an extra star for the dogs. I read many reviews and no one else mentioned them. As you must know by now I have a pet peeve about dogs that seem to come and go in stories. The two in this book were good companions and always cared for, even in a time when it might not seem important. The horses were as well, but you would expect so in a time when a man without a horse was in serious peril.
Mar 18, 2010 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
"Riders of the Purple Sage" was my first western and, of course, first Zane Grey. As such, I was expecting something along the line of the classic western movies of the 40s and 50s. Obviously, it did not live up to those expectations. The hero of the book is not even a cowboy.

Having said this, "Riders" was far from disappointing. It was an entertaining look at the wild west through the eyes of a man who saw at least part of it. The story is fairly well known; I knew much of it before I opened th
Patrick Hayes
Nov 12, 2011 Patrick Hayes rated it it was amazing
Zane Grey is to Westerns what Dickens is to Drama. Make no doubt, there's plenty of cliches, but every single one of them works. Action, drama, romance, and huge dollops of thoughfulness: this book is a classic! The plot is simple: one man finds himself helping a mysterious gunslinger heal while one woman finds herself embroiled in a conflict between her religion and what her heart. I know the book has been labeled anti-Mormon, but after reading it a second time, and finding the line where Lassi ...more
May 22, 2009 Seth rated it liked it
The first page and the first few chapters are particularly well written. The beautiful landscape descriptions of the rugged frontier in Utah, the "wild purple upland waste," made me think of Stephen King's desert setting in his The Wasteland series, where The Gunslinger is out in the desert with purple mountains sketched across the horizon. This book has a good, classic, original Western story. It has one slow section about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the book. I got so bored, I put it aside f ...more
Jun 27, 2016 Janelle added it
Shelves: unfinished
I've never been a fan of Westerns but I was looking for something different to listen to on Librivox, and knowing Zane Grey had a solid reputation in the genre, I thought I'd give it a try. It's only confirmed my taste. Just not my thing.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
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Pearl Zane Grey was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the rugged Old West. As of June 2007, the Internet Movie Database credits Grey with 110 films, one TV episode, and a series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater based loosely on his novels and short stories.
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“Where I was raised a woman's word was law. I ain't quite outgrowed that yet.” 5 likes
“So that's troublin' you? I reckon it needn't. You see it was this way. I come round the house an' seen that fat party an' heard him talkin' loud. Then he seen me, an' very impolite goes straight for his gun. He oughtn't have tried to throw a gun on me - whatever his reason was. For that's meetin' me on my own grounds. I've seen runnin' molasses that was quicker'n him. Now I didn't know who he was, visitor or friend or relation of yours, though I seen he was a Mormon all over, an' I couldn't get serious about shootin'. So I winged him - put a bullet through his arm as he was pullin' at his gun. An' he droppped the gun there, an' a little blood. I told him he'd introduced himself sufficient, an' to please move out of my vicinity. An' went" - Lassiter” 5 likes
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