Review first posted on Audiobook Reviewer.
Riders of the Purple Sage
Written by: Zane Grey
Narrated by: Ann M. Richardson
Length: 11 hrs and 49 mins
Series: Riders of the Purple Sage, Book 1
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
Riders of the Purple Sage is a classic western from author Zane Grey. It was published in 1912 and has remained in print and popular to this day. The story is set in 1871 in the Utah territory. There is no separation of church and state. The Mormon church and it’s patriarchal society hold all power.
The main character Jane is very non-traditional for the time period and for Mormon women. She is unmarried in her late twenties. She is also wealthy because of inheriting her father’s estate. She further defies convention by refusing to marry one of the Mormon elders in the area who demand she get in line with church teachings. Worst of all, in the eyes of her Mormon neighbors, is her belief in treating all men, whether Mormon or Gentile (non-Mormon) with equal dignity.
Her property is very valuable since it has a reliable water source. Her horses are also well known and sought after. Elder Tull wants to marry her, her wealth equal in his eyes to her beauty. The local Bishop, Dyer, supports Tull in his attempt to make Jane into a respectable Mormon wife. When Jane does not jump at the chance to become another of Tull’s wives, Tull and Dyer set about forcing her by attacking her Gentile ranch hands. Without her trusted hands, Jane cannot keep the ranch functioning.
As Jane continues to fight for what she feels is right and not what the Mormon men tell her is right, help comes from an unexpected and very dangerous source. Lassiter, a gunman known for his antipathy towards Mormons and accused of killing several Mormon men, arrives at Jane’s ranch. His reputation proceeds him and causes the to resort to even more violence in an attempt to force Jane into marriage.
Lassiter is an anti-hero. He is a man who has willingly killed other men. He has a very open hatred of all things Mormon. Yet he demonstrates more honor than the religious men trying to rob Jane of her independence and wealth. The pairing of a gunslinger and a Mormon woman drive the plot to an unexpected and thrilling conclusion.
I enjoyed the book, the first Zane Grey I have read or listened to. My only disappointment was it took Jane so long to realize that the Elder and Bishop were not motivated by religion but by greed. She was naive. Other than that, all the characters were well rounded.
I had previously listened to the version narrated by Mark Bramhall. I was interested to hear the book narrated by a woman, Ann M. Richardson. Different narrators can bring different tones or emphasis to the same book. I was very interested whether the gender of the narrator would affect the story itself. I found the gender of the narrator in this particular instance did not make a difference. Ms. Richardson did a very fine job of narrating the book. After listening to the same passages read by the two different narrators, I found I enjoyed them both. If this is an edge at all, it goes to Ms. Richardson. Her voice is very pleasant and she handles the range of voices, male/female, very well.
Rating: Story (Plot) 4
Rating: Performance 5
Rating: Production Quality 5
Rating: Attention Holding 4
ABR received this audiobook for free from the Publisher, Submitted in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect our opinion of the audiobook or the content of our review.