|View single post by Widow|
|Posted: Fri Dec 15th, 2006 03:08 am||
|Just for a change of pace, I read Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage, said to be the first of the western novels. There was no publication date in the cheap paperback I got at the supermarket.
The year, 1871, the place, the canyonlands of southern Utah. The physical setting is the great landscape of rocks, buttes, canyons, cliffs. Grey's descriptive powers are superb. Imagine a huge thunder and lightning storm in a valley surrounded by those huge rock cliffs, the acoustics would deafen you. Another chapter was a chase sequence on horseback, that was the finest I've ever read.
The social setting was one I'd never read before: the relations between the Mormons and Gentiles. In this novel, the Mormon church authorities in the village exercised their absolute power to intimidate and harrass the Gentiles and any Mormons who defended them. Grey had nothing good to say about the Mormons.
Except for one, a young woman who had inherited her father's large ranch. She refused to obey the command to marry a church elder, and the story develops around that conflict.
His character development was darned good, this wasn't just an early version of a western comic book or movie. Yet the two principal characters weren't as interesting to me as the two secondary characters. They held my attention but I couldn't recall the names of the two main people.
Now I understand why Zane Grey was a famous writer of western fiction. I'm glad I read it. But I probably won't read it again.