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The Desert Crucible.

THE DESERT CRUCIBLE. Zane Grey. 2003. Read by Jim Gough. 8 tapes. 11 hrs. Blackstone Audiobooks. #3172. 0-7861-2599-3. $56.95, Vinyl; plot, author notes. SA

This is billed as "the real sequel to Riders of the Purple Sage." Back in 1915, Grey's story was published as The Rainbow Trail, with a portion censored. This is the fully restored sequel, with the title Grey intended it to have.

John Shefford, a young preacher who has been stripped of his calling because his beliefs were too unorthodox for his congregation, flees to the western desert in search of solace, a new life, and the answer to a mystery. Friends of his have told him of the lost Surprise Valley. in which a gun fighter, a female rancher and a young girl were sealed years ago after they fled a group of angry Mormons. This romantic tale. combined with his youthful ideals, have resulted in him falling in love with a girl he has never seen, but whom he hopes to find and rescue. Little does he know that she has been wrested from Surprise Valley, forced into a plural marriage, and is living with other "sealed wives" in a hidden village across the Arizona border. While working for a trader, Shefford comes to care for a mysterious young woman, going by the name of Mary, who lives in the village but doesn't really seem part of the Mormon community. Naturally, she turns out to be the long-lost object of his affections, though their path to love and happiness is tangled in complications and fraught with danger.

Comparing the original book version to this restored version, it becomes apparent that a startlingly complete version was originally published, with most of the sexual content intact. What was deleted from Grey's story was the fact that teenage Mary had been forced into a plural marriage and that the visits she sometimes endured in the village were conjugal visits from her husband. Consequently, some of the impassioned conversations and interactions between Mary and Shefford make much more sense in this restored version, as they struggle with their growing love for each other and her forced, wedded state. Otherwise, the two stories are largely identical.

Gough, of Austin, Texas, sounds like an authentic cowboy. His accent definitely helps transport the listener back to the old west; and he reads the tale with conviction and handles Grey's sometimes-florid prose well. The recording is of good quality, and end-of-side messages are included.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.

Carol Reich, Youth Svcs. Mgr., Hillsboro P.L., Hillsboro, OR
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Reich, Carol
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Audiobook Review
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Words:464
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