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Home > The Writings of Zane Grey > Western Novels > Book Review: Sunset Pass

Book Review:
Sunset Pass

by Steve Raineault
Newport, New Hampshire

When the train pulls into Wagontongue, the reader becomes Trueman Rock, returning to town after killing a man six years earlier. As you wander along your old familiar streets, you notice every change -- people's ages, the town's populace, even the new location of Sol Winter's generalstore.

SUNSET PASS was written during the period many refer to as Zane Grey's 'decline.' Written in 1928 and published as a book in 1931, it may not boast the complex storyline of THE RAINBOW TRAIL or THE LAST OF THE DUANES, but it has the most uncanny, inexplicable power to take you into the characters' world. Grey's mastery of detail makes the reader feel along with the main character as he encounters friends of old. Perhaps Grey strikes a universal chord, how we all love our own hometowns and pray no disaster befalls them, when he writes of the vile Ash Preston terrorizing the two places Rock loves best -- Wagontongue and the mystical Sunset Pass.

Of course, with Preston being so possessive of his daughter Thiry, Trueman Rock will experience a few unsavory episodes in his quest to win her love. As with Romeo and Juliet, this undying love is depicted in the novel with shining sincerity. Out of love, and certainly not logic, Rock helps clear Gage Preston of cattle-rustling charges.

Alas, the one thing that Thiry holds dearest is the one thing Rock must destroy. Her own father.

When Gage purchases a marriage license for Thiry and Rock, Ash Preston turns to final hostility, forcing Rock to take aim at Preston to either win or lose Thiry's love. In the end, with half of his head shot away -- 'Preston was sagging. Bloody, magnificent, mortally stricken, he had no will except to kill' -- Preston staggers to his feet once more before falling for the last time.

SUNSET PASS stands as a powerful story of love, courage and loyalty. It shows how we must never follow with blind faith, how we must hold dear the memory of those we love, and how strong and enduring true love really is."

Steve Raineault is a Member of ZGWS. He lives in Crofton, Maryland.

This book review is the personal opinion of the writer.

Home > The Writings of Zane Grey > Western Novels > Book Review: Sunset Pass

Historical images of Zane Grey used with permission of Dr. Loren Grey
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Historical photos of Zane Grey used with permission of Dr. Loren Grey