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review 2019-02-25 01:22
The Rainbow Trail - Zane Grey

A sequel to Riders of the Purple Sage.

 

Did Riders need a sequel? Not really, but like the best sequels, this one leaves the original in peace while ekeing out a new story that coexists and is strikingly different from the first.

 

First of all, we've got mostly new characters. The characters of Venters and Bess are only mentioned (no-- they show up in the epilogue), and Lassiter and Jane Withersteen are only in the last few chapters.

 

Instead, we are introduced to Shefford, a new character, possibly author proxy, but complex and interesting enough. At turns naive, idealistic, and rugged and adaptible, we get to see the west through his eyes.

 

The west in this book has changed-- 15 years from the first story. The action in this book takes place southeast of the colorado / grand canyon, while the first book was implied as (although I guess it doesn't have to be) northwest of the canyon. Those areas are similar, but separated by hundreds of miles of arduous travel, and might as well be in different countries.

 

"Riders" takes place in the 1870s, with cowboys and rustlers to spare, but no natives to be found (this is historcally accurate, as in the 1870s the Navajo were depopulated and just returning from their "Long Walk")

 

In The Rainbow Trail, Shefford experiences Navajo country through his friend Nas Ta Bega (apparently patterned after a real-life friend of Zane Greys, Nasja Begay). Nas Ta Bega appears throughout the story as a mystical, mysterious, almost magical figure who understands the world a lot better than our protagonist. While it may be kind of hackneyed today to imbue the native american character with magical properties, remember that this was in the time where natives were still considered savages and sub-human. (call back to the book "Oysterville" by Espy where a white man shows up and shoots the local indian chief at dinner "just because I always wanted to shoot an indian") So, I think Zane Grey had a real respect for his friend Nasja Begay and wanted to convey in his books his love for the Navajo people, their culture, and their way of life.

 

We also have encounters with Mormon culture in the Utah Borderlands. by the 1890s, the mainstream LDS church had officially renounced polygamy (a point Grey doesn't bring up at all), but there were still plenty of folks who in secret or semi-secret still married multiple wives.

 

Having lived among and met some of these folks in my life, the most unrealistic thing Zane Grey describes about the mormon wives is that they were beautiful. Maybe they were 100 years ago, but 100 years of inbreeding has made that seem ..ahem... less than likely. There was also a common misconception (that Zane Grey doensn't necessarily address or refute) that Mormon men had some hypnotic power over young women and would steal them away to be their proselytes and wives. Truth was a little more prosaic, and the gender balance was maintained less by recruiting young women and more by expelling young men-- a practice still in place today in FLDS communities like Colorado City AZ.

 

The character Joe Lake, as one of those expelled young men, would have less of a positive outlook towards his own upbringing and church, but hey-- whatever.

 

One thing I think Zane Grey got right (and this is important, because I do believe he [in 1915] met, talked with, and lived with many mormons), is that the mormons of the younger, post-polygamy generation were fundamentally different from their parents generation. I would hope (as a mormon myself) that each generation might learn from the mistakes of their progenitors.

 

These books are behind the XKCD Line, so it's difficult to detect the anacrhonism in the story, etc. because it's ALL so long ago.

 

Anyway, I enjoyed the plot of The Rainbow Trail. It was quite different from Riders. Riders was cowboys-and-rustlers, horses and gunslinging. The Rainbow Trail was more man vs. nature, navajo vs settler, and perhaps a bit more true to the character and characters of the west.

 

As a final word, if you read Riders of the Purple Sage, read this one as well. I recommend it.

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review 2019-02-20 00:54
Riders of the Purple Sage - William R. Handley,Zane Grey

Kanab, Utah.

 

Kanab is transparently the town of Cottonwoods, for anyone who's been there. (incidentally, Kanab is a rough transliteration of a native american word meaning "willows", so yeah...)

 

Me, I only lived there 5 months, but that red dirt is in my soul and I ache to go back always.

 

Kanab is a special place, not only because it is so beautiful, but because of its isolation. It's the largest town for almost 100 miles in any direction, with no interstate highways, so it is a world in its own. Lonely and isolated, but stunning.

 

 

Being already in love with the scenery, and you can tell Zane Grey was, too. He describes the landscape in a way that brings it to life... well, except for the frequent odd use of the word "purple."

 

Now, to me, these cliffs look red. The official description is "vermillion", but if you substituted the word "purple" for them, you wouldn't be far off. Hence, all the references to purple in the story.

 

Legend is that Zane Grey stayed in the Kanab Grand Hotel (now called Purple Sage Inn, naturally) while he was writing this. So I've been wanting to read this for years. Now I have.

 

So, was the story any good? It's hard to tell. The story was interesting and compelling. The characters now seem like stock characters spouting hackneyed phrases that are all really tropey, but I get the impression that this is just 100+ years of this novel reverberating through the culture, and that this is the original. It's like reading Sherlock Holmes (or Dashiell Hammett, but I haven't read his stuff yet), and trying to untangle the action from its cultural ubiquity.

 

The other hard part for me to read was that Grey casts the Mormons as bad guys in the novel. Being a Mormon myself, I take some offense to that, but I know enough of our history to know that Grey is pretty close to the truth. After being heavily persecuted and fleeing several places in the midwest in the 1830s and 40s, the Mormons created their own civilization in the badlands of Utah, and were just as unkind, devious, and terrible to any non-Mormon interlopers in their settlements as they were east of the Rockies.

 

It's a good point of reflection that echoes Ghost Hawk by Cooper and Satanic Verses by Rushdie, both of which I've read in the last few months-- how an oppressed minority can turn around and be even worse once oppressors once they gain a majority. I'm sure this has applicability in our current politics, but I'm so sick of how the world is right now, I don't want to think about this too much.

 

Anyways, I'm glad I read this. Now I want to go back to Kanab again. Maybe permanently.

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text 2018-06-20 02:20
Reading progress update: I've read 65%.
Cut & Run - Abigail Roux,Madeleine Urban

“You’re bleeding,” Ty told him matter-of-factly as he tilted his head toward the front door. “Come on. I’ll pour some rubbing alcohol in it and make me feel better,” he offered with a grin.

 

 

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text 2018-06-19 16:27
Reading progress update: I've read 57%.
Cut & Run - Abigail Roux,Madeleine Urban

Zane smiled, noticing the way Ty’s accent was stronger and his grammar was worse when he was irritated. The more he got to know him, the more obvious it was becoming that a lot of Ty Grady was a façade—or layers of several masks. Zane wasn’t sure if he would ever see the real man, and it made him slightly sad. He thought maybe he would really like the real man.

 

❤️❤️❤️

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review 2018-06-18 03:54
Jaded: Zane and Honor (Cliffside Bay Series Book 3) by Tess Thompson
Jaded: Zane and Honor - Tess Thompson

 

Jaded is an inspiration. Honor and Zane are not victims, but survivors. From ugliness blooms beauty. Tess Thompson shines a light on subjects that many choose to ignore. She tackles heartbreak with the strength and grace of a snowflake. The impact lives on, but never defines. There will be tears, but out of the sorrow is where the hope begins. Thus the healing power of love.

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