Just today, I finished the second of two Zane Grey books, The Spirit of the Border and Shadow on the Trail. The prose was absolutely beautiful- the written dialect both of the Ohio valley and Texas/Arizona in the 1800s drove me a little crazy, trying to pronounce it in my head
The Spirit of the Border was about the Ohio river valley during the revolutionary war. It follows two brothers, Jim and Joe Downs. Jim is a christian missionary, trying to convert the Indians to Christianity. Joe is a fairly wild spirit, and wants to roam the trails and woods. He falls in with Lewis Wetzel, a historical figure, whose Aim is to convert the Indians to horizontal and stationary(and dead, if that was not clear). Both young men love the same girl, Nell, but both are noble enough that they each want the other to win her.
Best line in the book for me was where Joe is fingering the bullet holes in the logs of the fort, and remarks that he'd wished he'd been there when it happened. The colonel in charge of the fort responds that they day it happened he wished he was back on the Potomac river. The contrast between eager youth and a man of experience is spelled out that simply.
Shadow On the Trail concerns the flight from prosecution of Wade Holden, late of the scattered and dead Simm Bell gang. On his escape from the Texas Rangers, he is wounded and hidden by a 16 year old girl named Jacqueline Pencarrow. She bandages his wounds, he continues his flight but is now a man in the midst of a moral change. His first real moral choice after this has him choosing to help cattlemen instead of the rustlers who invite him to join them. He is still a man of severe temper and fierce pride, which work against him as character flaws and get him into needless fights. Despite this, he tends to make moral choices toward the good. The bulk of the books "meat" comes when he falls into an opportunity to help the family of the girl who saved him.
I can't pick out a favorite part of this one, as the whole book was a thoroughly satisfying read, and I plowed through it. good story, good ending. I recommend it.
I like Grey as an author- he's a bit of a romantic- boy gets girl, often against all odds. He seems to have a common theme of the love of a woman making men do amazing things. A stark shocking contrast from the "girls will make you give up wandrin'" attitude of Riders of Death- very refreshing.
Shinned: borrowed, as in "I Shinned these here two books from my Dad"