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Riders of the Purple Sage

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  5,606 ratings  ·  589 reviews
No book has a better claim to have invented the myth of the American West.

It is 1871 in Cottonwoods, Utah.

This is the story of the gunman, Lassiter, and the Mormon rancher, Jane Withersteen.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 31st 2006 by Forge Books (first published 1912)
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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

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
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
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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
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.
Henry Avila
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
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
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
Sue Cauhape
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
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 05, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Mike (the Paladin)
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
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
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
"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
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
Ray Riddle
I just finished "Riders of the Purple Sage" again. I can't tell you how many times I've read it. Along with the book, I also have the 1996 movie with Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, and the radio play. This is just an awesome story, and one of my very favorite books. Certainly my favorite western. Zane Grey was rather harsh on Mormons in this book, and they are the bad guys. That's not giving anything away, as you can see it from the beginning, as can all but one of the characters. Unfortunately, she ...more
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
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
Linda Rowland
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.
As western novels go, this one will probably drive modern readers crazy. It's not that it's bad, it's just terribly old-fashioned in writing style, and as several other reviewers have mentioned, the redundancy of phrasing is crazy. I wish I had a nickel for every time "purple sage" was mentioned -- I'd be a rich woman. That being said, I can see why it's considered a classic of the genre, and I didn't consider chucking it without finishing it. And now, if I'm ever in a conversation where western ...more
Zane Grey first published this Western novel back in 1912, and it has become the standard by which others are measured. I don't know that it would survive a politically correct editor today, but it remains a great and exciting read, with John Wayne-type good guys, some really sinister bad guys wrapped in religious privilege, and a strong and godly young woman as the protagonist.

Jane Withersteen has inherited a vast ranch with huge herds of cattle from her Mormon pioneer father. She is successful
Gerald Matzke
This was the second Zane Grey novel that I have read but the twists and turns of the plot and the colorful descriptions of the Utah wilderness made this one outstanding. I always looked forward to what would happen next. The characters found themselves in difficult circumstances but always seemed to find a way out. The wisdom of the experienced rider was essential to deal with cattle rustlers and religious zealots. I look forward to reading another of the many Zane Grey stories.
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The Free Readers: Thoughts and reviews 2 1 Nov 04, 2015 10:40AM  
Literary Fiction ...: Gene Autry's Cowboy Code 116 19 Dec 17, 2014 04:00PM  
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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.
More about Zane Grey...

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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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