There's a long introduction to this edition which discusses gender and sexuality in the novel and how they relate to its enduring popularity. At one point the essayist wonders why the initial audience included such a high proportion of women. This seems obvious to me; the story consists of two romances! There's been a female audience for novels of romance ever since they were invented.
So I was not really expecting romance, more a written version of the film High Plains Drifter or some such. Well, there's lots of mysterious strangers, injustice, desire for revenge, riding of horses and landscape worship and some gunplay, too, but it's inescapably a character-driven romantic tale. Fun, too, for the most part. The way things play out, the story is also the Fall of Adam and Eve, in reverse, which is a trifle weird.
It's surprisingly well written, apart from the occassions when the landscape description turns purple to match the sage and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to find out what the "formula Western" novel was all about back in 1912.
Deeper than expected.