Riders of the Purple Sage

The Restored Edition
By: Zane Grey
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Series: Riders of the Purple Sage, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 29 mins
4 out of 5 stars (338 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Now, for the first time in a century, Zane Grey’s best-known novel is presented in its original form exactly as he wrote it.

When in the early 1900s Zane Grey took his manuscript to two publishing companies, they rejected it because of the theme of Mormon polygamy, fearing it would offend their readers and subscribers. Then Grey made a special plea to Frederick Duneka, who was vice-president of Harper & Bros. and who had been Mark Twain’s editor at that company. Duneka and his wife read the novel and liked it but feared it would offend some readers. Harper & Bros. agreed to publish a changed version of the novel and purchased both the book and magazine-serial rights. Given the task of executing the necessary editorial changes, a senior editor of the company made changes in tone, diction, and style as well as content. The novel first appeared in nineteen installments in the monthly magazine Field & Stream from January 1912 to July 1913.

Blackstone Audio here presents the original, uncensored, unabridged novel Riders of the Purple Sage, obtained through the Golden West Literary Agency with the cooperation of Zane Grey’s son, Loren Grey, and the Ohio State Historical Society.

In Cottonwoods, Utah, in 1871, a woman stands accused and a man is sentenced to whipping. Into this travesty of small-town justice rides the one man whom the town elders fear. His name is Lassiter, and he is a notorious gunman who's come to avenge his sister's death. It doesn't take Lassiter long to see that this once peaceful Mormon community is controlled by the corrupt Deacon Tull, a powerful elder who's trying to take the woman's land by forcing her to marry him, branding her foreman as a dangerous 'outsider'. Lassiter vows to help them. But when the ranch is attacked by horse thieves, cattle rustlers, and a mysterious masked rider, he realizes that they're up against something bigger, and more brutal, than the land itself.

©2005 Zane Grey, Inc. (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Zane Grey epitomized the mythical West that should have been…The standout among them is Riders of the Purple Sage.” ( True West)
“Poignant in its emotional qualities.” ( New York Times)
“A powerful work, exceedingly well written.” ( Brooklyn Eagle)

Featured Article: 10 Best Western Audiobooks for Your Inner Outlaw


The now classic Western genre has shaped modern literature, film, and other forms of entertainment. Whether your story is taking you to space or to the wide-open plains of Utah, it’s likely pulling on the tropes and themes of a traditional Western. Our favorite audiobooks don’t just encompass old classics though—we’ve gathered a full breadth of work so that all fans of the genre can find something new to listen to. From family-friendly listens to gritty adventure tales, here is our list of the best Western audiobooks.

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

It's getting harder and harder to find good books that aren't filled with foul language and sex. This is a good clean book. A little cheesy at times but give me cheesy over raunchy any day. Maybe I'm a minority as far as that goes but it's getting harder to find a book that I would recommend to my kids that are adults now.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Western classic of Mormons as the Bad guys.

What did you like best about Riders of the Purple Sage? What did you like least?

I enjoyed the story especially the discovery of the secret valley. I didn't care much for the dated treatment of women, however this book isn't as bad as some I have read.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was perfect and well worth waiting for.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Mark Bramhall has the perfect western twang to his voice. He doesn't do as good a job as the women, is horrendous for little Fay and sometimes all the men sound the same, but his voice is a good listen.

Do you think Riders of the Purple Sage needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I would love to find out what happens next, especially to little Fay!

Any additional comments?

Zane Grey is an icon of western literature and is a great listen for those who love this genre.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

There's a reason why he's a legend

I hardly think that I'm going to make a contribution to the reputation of Zane Grey, but if you have never read anything by him, and you think you "don't like westerns" then pick up this book, because you're in for a surprise.

Set in a time and place that we can't conceive, Grey writes about how people come to find their "true grit" and its impact on their lives and the lives of those around them because of it.

I found myself drawn into the story, the depth of the characters and the intricate weave of life that he creates among them. Grey is a master storyteller. He describes the landscape so well, you can really see it in your mind's eye.

And that's just the surface. You are swept along as the characters begin to question their beliefs, and in many cases abandon them, in others find a particular value in them that makes them stronger people as a consequence.

This is a book I'll read again, and again. There's that much detail and perfect storytelling, that it's more than worth a second or third read.

Buy it, read it, enjoy it, learn from it. What more could you ask for?

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not the cowboy adventure story you expect

"Riders of the Purple Sage" is a classic of Western genre fiction, and I was looking forward to a good cowboy adventure story. It turns out that this is far less an adventure story and much more a morality tale about the abuse of power by religious leadership. The story is set during the era of Utah's pre-statehood 'theocratic democracy' and chronicles the conflicts that arise from attempts to force women into unwanted polygamous marriages and the church's violent efforts of the era to exclude non-Mormons from Utah. When it's done being a morality tale, it's a good old-fashioned romance.

The gunman, Lassiter, one of the most famous characters in Western literature, acts as a contrast to the perverse religiosity of the locals by acting according to his own moral code and sense of justice. He's the original Man in Black.

In the end the characters aren't developed deeply enough for the story to hold together completely. Still, there are a couple of good adventure sequences, beautifully described canyon country of southern Utah, and the bad guys all get what they deserve.

Nice narration by Mark Bramhall, though he's weak on the female voices.

3 people found this helpful

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Forbidden love, adventure, and murder.

An absolutely beautiful story of landscape, forbidden love, adventure, and righteous killing played out in the badlands of Utah. A romantic and thrilling tale of the old west.

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Riders of the Purple Sage

An enjoyable listening experience taking me back to years ago when I read this Zane Grey book and fell in love with his writing.

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The Horses Are Awesome

Lots of vivid descriptions of scenery and horses but little else. The rest was filled with a couple sophomoric love affairs and spatterings of criticism of the Mormons. And this is supposed to be Zane Grey's best? Wow, sure glad I didn't read the others.

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Hard to stop listening

Such a well crafted story, believable characters and some well placed surprises. The ending was satisfying too.

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Great Performance and story. A great Utah Western

Uncut and thrilling in its action and drama, this is one of the best Westerns I have ever read. Set in Utah, it features the controversy of fundamental Mormanism and the tragedy of injustice toward well-meaning women manipulated by religion.

Not much Latin culture here, with desperados or "half-breeds", but rather a frontier culture barren and dry and ruthless.

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great old Western!

Great Western for those who have a love for the equine. my only hang ups are that there were no fist fights and the women are so weak. a strong badass woman would have made this tale epic.