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Volume 1717
The ERB / Lin Carter Connection
"Zanthodon" Overview

by Steve Servello

1. Journey to the Underground World
2. Zanthodon
3. Darya of the Stone Age
4. Hurok of the Stone Age
5. Eric of Zanthodon

Journey to the Underground World

I started "Journey to the Underground World" today and I'm in heaven! It's been about three years since my last read and I needed this.

Being a fan of the Dray Prescot Saga by Ken Bulmer and the Josh Kirby illustrations, I was pleased to see his work in this book. More as I come to each one.

Published by DAW in November of 1979, I see no dedication and it should have been Burroughs that got the nod, for this novel represents a distinct nod to Pellucidar.

As to Eric Carstairs' age, the only (vague) reference so far is in the "Editor's Note." Carter writes: "I have known Carstairs off and on for several years. Although the rugged young adventurer is many years my junior, we seem to have hit it off from the start." Lin was born in June of 1930 and was about 49 years old when he wrote "Journey." So, "many years" could be anywhere from ten to thirty. Thus, Eric is somewhere between 19 and 39. I'd like to think 23, but he has seen so much action in the world prior to these adventures in Zanthodon that he probably is older. Like I said, vague.

I enjoyed Carter's "Editor's Note" overall but this line especially: "...there are still lost lands in the remote corners of the earth where fantastic monsters roam, where chaste and beautiful women remain to be rescued from sneering villains, and where adventure and peril and heroism thrive amid exotic and bizarre scenery." What more could I ask for!

One thing I was bothered by (big time!) is that Lin provided no map of the known areas of Zanthodon. Well, I made my own and though absolutely out of scale and juvenile in quality, I find it helpful in my reads of this series.

I recalled that there was a map of Zanthodon in The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi. On page 421 the map shows a vastly different conception. For one, it shows the entire land mass surrounded by the Sogar-Jad while I believe there was still unexplored land to the east and thus was left off my map. Plus, the Northern Isles and El Cazar. This may be due to only the first two or three books being referenced. Still, I will consult both maps during my read and see if I am in error. Perhaps I could put together a map that contains the best of both.

Events begin in Port Said Egypt before moving to a desolate section of the Sahara Desert. Eric Carstairs saves Professor Percival Penthesileia Potter from thugs and they strike up a friendship and partnership for Potter knows the location of one of the entrances to Zanthodon. Only this one is ever disclosed but others (one at least) are referred to, later on in the series.

There is much humor to be found and I for one appreciate it. On page 18, Potter and Carstairs spar on the professor's middle initial P. He alternates between being "suspiciously reticent," giving "frosty, reproving glares" and "clearing his throat and giving a sniff," I was amused.

On page 14, when Eric proposes a drink after their initial meeting, Potter begs off but finally, for medicinal purposes only caves in with: "Straight gin," he snapped to the waiter. "Gordon's, if you stock it; Boodle's will do." Carstairs then opines that gin is gin and on that point I quite disagree.

One last example of humor in "Journey" occurs on page 44 where Potter had just declared that triceratops were vegetarians and this one starts eating a pterodactyl Carstairs had just killed and then trees the duo, looking for another meal. "Mostly vegetarians, eh?" I (Eric) said sarcastically. Looking remarkably unhappy, the Professor made no comment."

The incredible descent to the Underground World is described on pages 29-33 and while not as detailed or fraught as that of David Innes and Abner Perry, it still makes for brave reading as "Babe" the helicopter of Carstairs wends its way ever deeper into the Earth's crust. But unlike Pellucidar, Zanthodon is not at the Earth's core but in a huge cavern, about 100 miles down, beneath the Sahara. Potter estimates (page 40) the size to be "about five hundred miles by five hundred, almost perfectly circular. ...A quarter of a million square miles."

Potter crashes "Babe" while Carstairs naps but the helicopter is not totally wrecked. I had hoped that Eric would one day return for "Babe," repair her and fly across Zanthodon. It could not however, ascend back through the volcanic tunnel to the 1000 foot mountain in the Sahara it originated in (pages 39 & 41). Useless to want as it never happens! It seems a blacksmith would be necessary to repair the broken rotor blade. But what about the Corsairs of El-Cazar?

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan & Pellucidar), Jules Verne, King Kong and "The Lost World" are referred to in scattering fashion throughout the first 50 or so pages. Zanthodon stands proudly along side these staples of lost worlds and heroic fantasy.

Echoing Burroughs, there is a battle between the (carnivorous) triceratops and a wooly mammoth (pages 46-48) where the former is crushed to a pulp. This battle is illustrated by Josh Kirby in the frontispiece and is supported textually on page 47. The two beasts are a little to blurry for my taste but our heroes come off well. The background work is top notch and primitive.

The Sea is reached on page 58 and I think I had assumed that "Babe" had landed near a "lagoon" of this body of water but in retrospect, it was probably a lake, though Carter refers to it (page 34) as either a "lagoon" or a "wide river." Soon after it turns into a swamp. In any event, a plesiosaurus rears out of the sea's depths (later revealed as the Sogar-Jad). Shades of Pellucidar!

By page 61, Potter and Carstairs are captured by the Ape-Men of Kor from the island of Ganadol and Eric was woefully unprepared for their chieftain's attack. I know he'll do better as he gets to know the dangers of the Underground World of Zanthodon.

It turns out the Neanderthals are known in Zanthodon as Drugars and their slave-raiding party that netted Professor Potter and Eric Carstairs is hurriedly heading back to their kingdom of Kor on the island of Ganadol which lies on the Sogar-Jad.

Josh Kirby illustrates this slave coffle on page 67, the scene suitable barbaric. Others held captive include several Cro-Magnon men and woman. They are of the tribe or kingdom of Thandar and it is from the wrath of its king (omad), Tharn that the Drugars flee, for the woman is Tharn's daughter, Dayra. Included also from Thanadar are young Jorn the hunter and the conniving chieftain Fumio. If this whole scene reminds you of At the Earth's Core, it should, as Burroughs originated this scenario first in that first book of Pellucidar.

Other similarities to ERB's Inner World are that it is Apemen (Drugars/Sagoths) who are the slavers, both lands both lie in eternal sunshine and time is recorded in "sleeps." Also, the term the Apemen use for the Cro-Magnons is "panjan," similar to what the Sagoths called modern men, "gilaks." In an un-Burroughs-like move, bodily functions are mentioned on page 69.

The Thanadarians had actually advanced to the Bronze Age though they are often referred to as Cro-Magons, with thoughts of the Stone Age uppermost in the reader's mind. Potter suspects that they arrived in Zanthodon 50,000 years ago, fleeing an Ice Age. But no date of the Neanderthal's arrival is conjectured.

Concerning my map, it was revealed on page 66 that the Sogar-Jad was to the left of the raiding party and I had assumed that they were traveling north along the western coast of Zanthodon though I suppose it could have been south on the eastern coast. Page 86 states that Thanadar is "down coast from Kor." Strangely enough, it is not for this reason that the map in "The Dictionary of Imaginary Places" differs from mine. Their map is just so seemingly wrong on most accounts but I'll talk more about that later.

Just as the Drugars began to herd their captives into dugouts, enroute to Ganadol, Eric starts a slave revolt that frees the Thanadarians, but at the cost of his own freedom. It is in the aftermath of the great escape that Carstairs begins his unlikely friendship with the Drugar, Hurok, which becomes one of the rocks that the five book saga is based on.

As Kirby shows on page 87, a yith (plesiosaurus) attacks the returning Drugars and after Hurok severs Eric's bound hands (to give him a fighting chance), the favor is returned when Carstairs saves the Apeman from certain death by drowning. They make their way to shore but which, Kor's or the mainland?

Meanwhile, Professor Potter is mortified when Darya strips prior to bathing in a stream. His voice "rose a treble" as the princess (gomad) appears suddenly nude before his asonished eyes and ultimately "uttered a strangled croak" to accompany his retreat visually. Lin Carter handles this scene very well with his brand of humor. The sight of her perfect breasts jutting forth while doing the back float is too much for the secretly observing Fumio and he knocks the professor out and begins to assault the gomad of Thanadar...


When last I left Zanthodon, at the end of Journey to the Underground World, Professor Potter had fainted by the shore of the Sogar-Jad. He had just witnessed the abduction of Darya by Kairadine Redbeard and apparent death of Jorn the Hunter. Eric Carstairs, Fumio, One-Eye, Xask and Tharn were off on other separate but related adventures.

Near the end of Zanthodon, the second of five books in this latter day series by Carter, all parties (and then some) have been happily reunited and it seems a duology is all that is needed to relate the strange tale of Eric Carstairs. Ah, but we know better!

During the 185 pages of action, the warriors of Thanadar and Sothar destroy the dwarfish Gorpaks and their Lords the Sluagghs, while both Jorn and Darya escape the pirate vessel the "Red Witch."

A comment or two on both of the above. On page 38, when Potter is confronted by a stray Sluaggh, the five foot leech is described thusly: "But the most horrible and repellant features about the monstrous leech was not its size or its nature, but the uncanny gleam of cold, inhuman intelligence that burned in its eyes." Aside from the hypnotic effect of those eyes on its victims, the intelligence aspect is never fully explored. And aside from gaining mastery over the Gorpaks and voicing a high-pitched wail when being killed, I saw no actual intelligence displayed. Nor was the history of the Gormaks and their relatively high level of civilization explained and their docile slaves as well.

As Kairadine brings the Princess Darya to his cabin aboard the "Red Witch," he prepares to rape her. While this act never occurs (thanks to Jorn), Carter does get rather vivid in describing the set-up on page 33: "As she panted for breath, her perfect breasts rose and fell, their delectable pink tips crisped from the coldness of the sea air on her damp skin. The corsair let his eyes travel caressingly down the sleek curve of her arm and shoulder, belly and flank and long, slim, tanned thigh." Burroughs would never write such semi-erotic stuff (different era, for one thing) and this Stone/Bronze Age Princess is continuously being abducted while bathing nude in some secluded pool. Pretty sexy stuff! The illustration on page 172 shows Darya's (nude) charms best, far better than Thomas Kidd's cover art.

Kidd is credited with the Cover Art on the Copyright Page but on the Title Page, he is credited as "Ilustrated by." But clearly, the interior illustrator is different and far superior to Thomas Kidd. I just wish I knew who to credit. Perhaps best of the lot is the Frontispiece, showing Tharn as described on pages 14 & 15.

Going a step further than contemplative rape, Carter describes the actual rape by a Gorpak on a pre-teen slave girl on page 79: "For suddenly tossing aside the whip, the bald mane tore off his loin-clout and got down on the floor atop the weeping little girl. The child made no protest against the assault. The Professor could hear her muffled sobs beneath the hog-like gruntings of the creature violating her." As disgusting as this scene is, more so was her father's reaction to it on page 81. At least this rape validates the total destruction of the Gorpaks and Sluagghs later on.

While temporarily the captive of One-Eye, Eric is unbound but still doesn't simply run away from his much slower Drugar adversary (page 93). Seems sort of silly for Carter not to realize this.

Another similarity between Zanthodon and Pellucidar is when Carter introduces a homing instinct (page 102): "The people of Zanthodon have, by and large, something akin to a homing sense: generally, they unerringly head in the direction they want to go..." Seemed almost an add on by Carter.

A three page character glossary ends Zanthodon, complementing the animal glossary at the end of the first book.

Just when things seem all sorted out, along comes Achmed the Moor to kidnap Dayra once more and the Minoan warriors of Zar capture Eric, the Professor and Xask. Everything has gone wrong but at least I know that "Hurok of the Stone Age" will be ready for me!

Curiously, the Cro-Magnon's slang name for the Neanderthal's, Drugars meaning Ugly Ones, is always capitalized but when they return the favor and call the Cro-Magnons panjani, meaning smoothskins, it is not capitalized. See page 16 for examples of usages.

The leaders of Sothar, Thanadar and Kor are usually referred to as High Chief or Omad, with lesser Chieftains serving beneath (One-Eye, Fumio and Komad for example). But sometimes the term King is used by Carstairs and kingdom for tribe. In Pellucidar, David Innes created kingdoms out of the federated tribes and kings of their chiefs. Perhaps Eric does the same on his ascension to Emperor of Zanthodon.

I believe it is the information on page 18 that made me determine that the Sogar-Jad lay to the west of the Zanthodon mainland: "We were moving steadily west, toward the shores of the Sogar-Jad, with the jungle at our left and the plains to our right."

On page 32, Darya is said to have no knowledge of the Barbary pirates of El-Cazar, as they have never raided this far south from their island stronghold to the north. Yet, (page 61), Jorn the Hunter knows enough to refer to the corsairs as "The-Men-Who-Ride-Upon-Water" and I believe Tharn did so as well, in the first book

Hurok of the Stone Age

Lin Carter continues to follow ERB's titling of his Zanthodon Series. Both used the land nick names in the first book, the real names in the second and both authors used supporting character names in books three and four.

1. "At the Earth's Core" and "Journey to the underground World"

2. "Pellucidar" and "Zanthodon"

3. "Tanar of Pellucidar" and "Hurok of the Stone Age"

4. "Tarzan at the Earth's Core" and "Darya of the Bronze Age"

Speaking of whom, Darya is only mentioned a few times in passing during Hurok of the Stone Age and never appears. Our Princess will dominate the fourth book which matches the third in time-line.

I hope the readers of this article don't mind my geographical comments but I'm double checking the accuracy of my own map of Zanthodon and so far it seems I'm right on, as far as the known areas of this inner world continent are concerned. For it seems that Zanthodon is just that, a single continent with some outlying islands. True, only the western and northern coasts have been explored in the five books but Eric Carstairs himself states (page 41) that "the Thandarians and Sotharians reached the point at which the shoreline curves back upon itself, and found the northernmost extremity of the continent." However, I also note that "Here a broad arm of the underground sea extended like a natural barrier, making further progress impossible. Along this arm of the Sogar-Jad were many small and rocky islands, a veritable archipelago, in fact." Two pages earlier, Carstairs comments that "the shoreline bulged outwards, curving back upon itself farther to the north." I have shown "the bulge" and these islands as well as El-Cazar but not the aforementioned "broad arm." It is probably a wide bay as opposed to a gulf but why the party could not continue, I can't explain. Sure the bay itself was an obstacle but why not travel via the shoreline?

Another clue (page 16) that only western Zanthodon has been explored by Lin Carter is that "Zar, lay inland from the coast, far to the east." So really, we readers have no idea how vast Zanthodon actually is or how many tribes exist beyond those already mentioned:

Gorpaks (exterminated)
Gorad (appear in this book)
Numitor (appear in this book)
Gorthak (appear in fourth or fifth book)
Fisher Folk (appear in fourth of fifth book)
Aziru (appear in fourth of fifth book)

Plus of course the Drugars of Kor on Ganadol, the Minoans of Zar on the Lugar-Jad and the Barbary Pirates of El-Cazar, among the Northern Isles.

Conversely, Pellucidar is deeper within the Earth and much vaster. I'm sure Abner Perry and Professor Potter could give the relative number of square miles for each but Pellucidar has several continents (it seems, though a full map could reveal that all the seas are actually landlocked and part of the greater whole), thus rendering the Earth's Core having one huge land mass as well. We may never know the true extent of both inner earth worlds but maybe some day some intrepid soul(s) will push the boundaries of both?

The Scarlet City of Zar is protected by a ring of mountains called the Wall of Zar and an inland sea known both as the Lugar-Jad and the Pnom-Jad (pages 46 - 48). Though described as the size of "one of the Great Lakes," there is a great island (upon which Zar is situated) that is "in the exact center of the inland sea." Yet, Carstairs could easily discern the city and its buildings from the shore and a stone causeway connects from there to the island. Despite Minoan engineering, it is doubtful they could build a bridge that traversed half of Lake Erie and the fact that Zar was easily viewed from shore shows the Pnom-Jad (Little Sea) to be simply a very large lake but certainly no "Great one.

And since we're here, on the Pnom-Jad, I wonder why it is so named when the inhabitants on Zar speak ancient Minoan and would presumably have named this "inland sea" upon taking control of it, about three thousand years ago.

And why have the Minoans retained their language in whole? The Pirates of El Cazar, a far more recent addition to Zanthodon, has already adopted the almost universal language of the Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals (Drugars).

And why would Zar fear a barbarian invasion? They have the Walls of Zar with only one pass readily available to an attacking horde, the Gates of Zar, carved in the likeness of its living god, the Zorgazon or T-Rex. Josh Kirby amply illustrates this on the cover, as Carstairs and Potter are brought into captivity to Zar. The narrow pass beyond the Gates of Zar shows itself to be easily defended against a numerically superior host. Then there is the Pnom-Jad itslef, crossable only by boat or narrow causeway. Thus far, only the far away Drugars of Kor seemed to have built primitive boats and the Pirates of El-Cazar, with far superior ships. Yet, how could either build a fleet on the shores of the inland sea, prior to assaulting Zar itself? As to the causeway, it could be easily defended or destroyed if need be.

Assuming that invaders could get this far, they'd still have to invade the city proper and intense hand to hand fighting would result with the Minoans reluctant to give up their lives, families and homes.

Yet, there is a fleet of merchant and war ships abroad on the Pnom-Jad. With whom do they trade as no mention of coastal settlements is made and with whom would they fight? Who would dare or be capable of attacking the Scarlet City of Zar?

My last piece of geographical data pertains to the so-called "mountain lake" that Jorn falls into (pages 111 & 112) during a landslide in the Wall of Zar. It lies at the base of a mountain on the edge of the Northern Plains so technically it is a "lake close to a mountain."

Carstairs constantly refers to the people of Sothar and Thanador as Cro-Magnons but are they really? They migrated to Zanthodon perhaps ten thousand years ago (Potter could tell you), as Cro-Magnons but might they not have evolved into true Homo Sapiens as evidenced by  the ascent of  these two tribes (at least) through the Copper Age into that of the Bronze? Speaking of which, though daggers, spears and bow and arrows have been invented, why not swords? If bronze or copper are readily available would not a sword be the logical next step, up from the smaller dagger?

I just noticed on page 89 that Carter (for once at least), refers to the Sotharian and Thanadorians as "a hardy race, these direct descendants of our own Cro-Magnon ancestors."

On page 48, Captain Raphad reveals that Zar is in decline, population-wise as "the number of our births is far less than the number of deaths." Why this is, I don't know but does this mean that given sufficient time, Zar will fade into oblivion, invasion or not? Perhaps inbreeding is a probable and if so, why not utilize their robust Cro-Magnon slaves to add fresh blood and genes to that of the decadent Minoans?

Though the primitive nations of Sothar and Thanadar are far below the level of civilization represented by Zar, both are in the Bronze Age (page 82). No iron in Zanthodon? I'll wait to see if the Barbary Pirates have iron. The late and unlamented Gorpaks were of the Bronze Age also. A pity their past was not fully examined by Carter as they were somewhere between Zar and the two barbarian nations of Thanadar and Sothar, as far as level of civilization was concerned. It is not clear (at this time) whether or not the tribes of Gorad, Numitor or Gothak have advanced out of the Stone Age. It is curious that the tribes of Sothar and Thanadar never interacted with those of Numitor or Gorad. The latter two are located "far to the south" of Zar (page 173) apparently still north of the Peaks of Peril. Despite this natural barrier, I would think that with the thousands of years spent in Zanthodon by these tribes it would result in some sort of discovery of each other. On page 185, Garth of Sothar recognizes the warriors fleeing Zar as those of Numitor and Gorad.

Of note to fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lin Carter utilizes the concept of primitive or alien worlds being unaware of the art of pugilism (page 67) and Carstairs narrowly escapes "A Fate Worse Than Death" at the hands of Empress Zarys (page 171).

Speaking of whom, not only does she look almost exactly like Darya, their names are darn close as well. But the Empress is a bit older and far more sensuous, as evidenced by her sexual fondling of Eric's pistol (page 109) and the general parading of her painted nipples and nude nether regions. Total flaunting!

I was under the impression that only a handful of the tribe of Sothar were enslaved by the Gorpaks, with the balance destroyed by the earthquake which drove them from their ancestral home. How else but with small numbers could the warlike Sotharians be captured by the relatively weak (militarily) Gorpaks? Yet, they are said to be numbered in the hundreds when they eventually split from the Thanadarians and when Captain Raphad spots them while on patrol (pages 89 & 106).

Carter does go where Burroughs did not, in terms of explicit sexual scenes or possibility. The chance of "a bit of gang rape" on  Ialys (slave girl of the Empress), is pondered by Carstairs on page 174. That and the pistol barrel fondling by Zarys is pretty explicit for this sort of tale.

I've already mentioned Josh Kirby's great cover art but his interiors deserve attention as well. The Frontispiece represents an exaggeration of the scene on page 35. A thirty foot snake does not tower over its victims like this xunth does. Still it is effective.

On page 64 Kirby thankfully shows Yualla as he wants and not as Carter describes. Here we see curves upon curves upon curves as opposed to the slender cave girl of carter. The thakdol is nicely drawn but the vandar on page 123 is even more so. And here we see yet more of Yualla's delightful charms.

The journey through the sewers of Zar is rather poorly illustrated on page 158, as this illustration is "too busy." Here, Empress Zarys is referred to as the "Witch Queen of Zar." Is she a witch? I've seen no indication though she might be considered a goddess by her subjects. Is she a Queen or Empress? Since she rules only the lands and seas within the Walls of Zar and the nearby approaching Northern Plains, it seems that Queen is more appropriate, since there are no conquered tribes to rule over, on to raid for fresh slaves. But perhaps the title is ancestral, from ancient Crete when they did rule an empire in the eastern Mediterranean?

The last interior is of Zorgazon (T. Rex) on page 179 and is a dramatic one at that, with a human dangling in its great jaws. But do we ever sea another such beast, even an allosaurus, in Zanthodon?

Plot-wise, Hurok of the Stone Age is made up of the stories of Garth searching for his daughter Yualla, Tharn like-wise searching for Darya (they both were carried off by thakdols), and Hurok searching for Carstairs and Potter. By books end, we know that Darya is aboard a Barbary Pirate ship headed for El Cazar while the host of Sothar  and a smattering of tribesmen from Numitor and Gorad  is heading towards the northwest coast of Zanthodon to unite with those of Thanadar. Yualla is rescued as well as Eric and the Professor, though Garth is sorely wounded.

If there is one impression I am left with by this incredible Lin Carter novel, it is the words of Eric Carstairs describing what Hurok had accomplished during his adventures (page 192). "Sometimes, in dire adversity, men break. Other men, however, pass through the fire and emerge strong, tempered, like steel passing through a smith's forge. And thus had been the fate of my old friend and comrade-in-peril, Hurok of the Stone Age."

Well written, Lin!

Next up, "Darya of the Bronze Age" and Zanthodon's version of Korsar!

Darya of the Stone Age

Darya of the Bronze AgeDarya of the Bronze Age is the fourth of five books in Lin Carter's Zanthodon Series. Timeline-wise it runs concurrently with events previously described in Hurok of the Stone Age.

For the most part, this book reveals the fate of Darya after she was kidnapped (for the second time), by Kairadine, Prince (though there is no king to be the son of) of El-Cazar. It is not Eric Carstairs who rescues her. It is her father Garth, King of the Sotharians. He and his Cro-magnon horde invade and temporarily conquer the Barbary Pirate's island stronghold, out in the Northern Seas.

Making their way back to the mainland they eventually rejoin the tribe of Thandar, just after they (Tharn and company) have defeated both the avenging pirates and Minoan Cretans of the Scarlet City of Zaar. Sadly, the battle was won far too easily in a contrived manner. Lin could have done better with this and added a touch of realism in the process.

By book's (and battle's) end, the buccaneers and Minoans are returning to El-Cazar and Zaar, defeated and disarmed, while Kairadine has mistakenly kidnapped Zarys, Empress of the Minoans. Eric and Darya are once again reunited and their union has been blessed by Tharn.

So now what? Most loose ends (but for Kairadine and Zarys) have been resolved or so it seems. After all, the reader is informed of the fifth book, Eric of Zanthodon. No mention of it being the last book in the series is made.

Josh Kirby is only credited with the cover art but he did the five interiors as well. A voluptuous Darya adorns the cover and is just busting out with curves, thankfully so, unlike how Lin describes her.Josh does well with the interiors but they are not as good as the cover. I suspect his "busy" style does not transfer all that well in some instances. In fact, I will soon conduct an Internet search and see if he has a collection available, one that will portray his gifted talents to best advantage.

An interesting comment is made by Carstairs on page 33. "... beyond the shore lay further islands, large and small, drowned in veils of floating mist, beyond which stretch, presumably, the unbroken sea to the very walls of the cavern-world." What a visual. Imagine actually reaching the edge of Zanthodon and coming upon the encompassing wall? This makes me wonder at what the "roof" of the Underground World looks like from the ground. Carter has addressed this but only briefly, such as when Eric and the Professor first crash landed through the volcano shaft. But how high up is the "ceiling" and what is its appearance. For some reason I visualize ERB's inner Lunar world (Vega?), with many openings to the surface.

And again, I am prompted to think of Pellucidar and how there is no ceiling, only the far side of the Earth's Core. Though not visible to its inhabitants, the concept just floors me!

Funny how the ocean surrounding Zanthodon is known as Sogar-Jad and the inner sea as Pnom or Lugar Jad, but the portion of the Sogar-Jad by El-Cazar and the Northern Isles is simply called the Northern Sea (page 35). This is one type of lack of consistency I noticed in this book and I'm a bit disapponted in this because Lin has written on how such tales should be crafted and the pitfalls to avoid. Never mind that he didn't provide a map, breaking rule #1.

Another example is on whether or not Fumio of Thandar is a coward. Usually it is said that he is, but occasionally we are informed otherwise, like on page 110.

And is Achmed a Moor (as he usually is) or a Turk as on page 37.

I guess there are more than Arabs (of the Algerian variety, mainly) and Moors as Kemal the Turk and Haroot the Persian make brief appearances on page 36.

There is some un-Burroughs-like sexuality in this book, particularly when Zoraida fondles Darya's breasts as she hangs helpless. Plus the girls seem to like raking their nails across the breasts of each other while earlier engaged in a cat fight. The threat of gang rape (page 71) is very real but thankfully never happens. Talk of Kairadine "mounting" Darya (page 52) is a bit risque as well. A different cup of tea, is Zanthodon to Pellucidar!

The story still reads well and I do look forward to events in the concluding novel, but honestly, my appreciation of Burroughs rises after this reading.

Eric of Zanthodon 

One train of thought (or word, actually) that stayed with me throughout my latest re-read of Lin Carter's Eric of Zanthodon was "anti-climatic." I remember thinking that "Darya of the Bronze Age" would have made an appropriate conclusion to the Underground World saga, save for a few loose ends. Well, those loose ends are resolved in this book but I feel 176 pages was about 100 too many for this purpose. Does that mean I thought this novel a poor one? No, just the weakest in an extremely fine series.

Published by DAW Books (No. 362) in May of 1982, it represents the culmination of Carter's homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar  series. Begun in November of 1979, the five volumes of Zanthodon were published over a two and a half year period, as compared to the forty-nine for ERB's Inner World novels. Whereas Carter plotted his series in advance and in detail, before actually beginning to write, Burroughs went wherever his fertile imagination took him, after the opening duology.

I can imagine how exciting it must have been for Barsoom and Pellucidar fans to wonder when the next beloved book in their series would appear next, as both of them had a fifty year publishing span with no discernable pattern. With Carter, one need not worry as he had a "plan" for Zanthodon as well as The Green Star and World's End series. Five books (discounting Giant of World's End) and out! Other series like Callisto, Thongor and the Great Imperium had "other plans," to be discussed at another time.

But, back to Eric of Zanthodon. Once again, featuring a Josh Kirby cover and half a dozen interiors. The cover depicts the scene from the last page, showing a barbaric Eric, shy son Gar and an absolutely curvacious (erroneously so) Darya. The erupting volcano in the background was borrowed from an earlier scene near the old village of Sothar.

Carstairs confirms beyond all doubt that my map of the Underground World is basically correct, by stating in a footnote on page 29 that the Sogar-Jad lay to the west of Thandar. Another addition to Zanthodon is the remnant of the Aziru tribe from the African savannah. Only Niema and Zuma have survived and they join Eric's tribe, along with Baron Manfred Von Kohler, Private Borg and Corporal Schmidt, survivors of a company of World War II Germans, retreating from the Allied advance in the North African theatre. I had hoped that Carter would dwell a bit on the ages of these warriors versus their younger appearance, somewhat like Burroughs did with Ah-gilak in Savage Pellucidar.  Both inner worlds are essentially timeless, to a degree as the inhabitants have not developed a way to measure time and wouldn't if they could. Abner Perry did try though....

Another similarity between the two series is the homing instinct possessed by the long-time inhabitants. The Barbary Pirates and Minoans of Zanthodon don't possess it and I don't recall if the Korsars of Pellucidar do.

I had mentioned the tying up of loose ends by Carter but actually, two are not. The fate of Kairadine Redbeard and Zarys of Zar is unknown as is the future of their respective strongholds. Also, Murg is left to flee from the justice of the Thandarian/Sotharian host, after knifing Xask in the back. It was ever "Murg's way."

Speaking through Von Kohler, Lin Carter expresses his personal views on how his Utopia would appear. "Would it not, Herr Carstairs, be a worthy cause to devote our lives to, if we could spare the Cro-Magnon nation the mistakes that have marred the history of our own Western civilization? Extreme nationalism, imperialism, the exploitation of less advanced peoples, the creation of poverty and slums, military aggression ... and, instead of these, teach them the ways of justice, equality, fairness, decency, toleration, brotherhood, cooperation, and -- freedom!"

By book's end, Eric Carstairs is proclaimed Omad of his tribe of Zanthodon and future Omad of those of Thandar and Sothar, upon the deaths of Tharn and Garth. In other words, the Omad-of-Omads or Emperor of Zanthodon.

It's too bad that Carter never continued this series by concentrating on the unexplored eastern and extreme southern regions of the continent of Zanthodon as well as overseas on the Sogar-Jad, beyond Gantatol, El Cazar and the Northern Isles. But alas, unless some intrepid writer of fan fiction undertakes this task, the future adventures of Eric Carstairs will remain unwritten and unknown to us, readers of this sort of tale.

Zanthodon Map Sketch by Steve Servello

Lyn CarterLin Carter
As the Green Star Rises     1975 
Beyond the Gates of Dream     1969 
Black Legion of Callisto     1972 
By the Light of the Green Star     1974 
Callipygia     1988 
Conan avec Robert E.Howard et L.Sprague de Camp     1967 
Conan of Aquilonia avec L.Sprague de Camp     1977 
Conan of Cimmeria with Robert E.Howard & L.Sprague de Camp  1969 
Conan of the Isles with L.Sprague de Camp     1968 
Conan the Barbarian with L.Sprague de Camp     1982 
Conan the Buccaneer with L.Sprague de Camp     1966 
Conan the Liberator with L.Sprague de Camp     1979 
Conan the Swordsman with Bjorn Nyberg & L.Sprague de Camp     1978 
Conan the Wanderer with Robert E.Howard & L.Sprague de Camp     1968 
Darya of the Stone Age   1981 
Destination Saturn with Donald A. Wollheim     1967 
Discoveries in Fantasy     1972 
Down to a Sunless Sea     1984 
Dragonrouge     1984 
Dragons, Elves and Heroes     1969 
Dreams from R'lyeh     1975 
Eric of Zanthodon     1982 
Flashing Swords ! 1     1973 
Flashing Swords ! 2     1973 
Flashing Swords ! 3 : Warriors and Wizards     1976 
Flashing Swords ! 4 : Barbarians and Black Magicians     1977 
Flashing Swords ! 5 : Demons and Daggers     1981 
Found Wanting     1985 
Giant of World's End     1969 
Golden Cities, Far     1970 
Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy     1972 
Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy II     1973 
Green Star Rises 
Horror Wears Blue     1987 
Hurok of the Stone Age     1981 
Imaginary Worlds     1973 
In the Green Star's Glow     1976 
Jandar of Callisto     1972 
Journey to the Underground World     1979 
Kellory the Warlock     1984 
Kesrick     1980 
King Kull with Robert E.Howard     1967 
Kingdoms of Sorcery     1976 
Lankar of Callisto     1975 
Lost World of Time     1969 
Lost Worlds     1980 
Lovecraft : A Look Behind the "Cthulhu Mythos"     1972 
Mad Empress of Callisto     1975 
Mandricardo     1987 
Mind Wizards of Callisto     1975 
New Worlds for Old     1971 
Outworlder     1971 
Realms of Wizardry     1976 
Renegade of Callisto     1978 
Sky Pirates of Callisto     1973 
Star Rogue     1970 
Tara of the Twilight     1979 
The Barbarian of World's End     1977 
The Black Star     1973 
The City Outside the World     1977 
The Enchantress of World's End     1975 
The Flame of Iridar     1967 
The Immortal of World's End     1976 
The Magic of Atlantis     1970 
The Man who Loved Mars     1973 
The Man without a Planet     1966 
The Pirate of World's End     1978 
The Purloined Planet     1969 
The Quest of Kadji     1971 
The Spawn of Cthulhu     1971 
The Star Magicians     1966 
The Thief of Thoth     1968 
The Valley where Time Stood Still     1974 
The Warrior of World's End     1974 
Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria     1965 
The Wizard of Zao     1978 
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 1     1975 
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 2     1976 
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 3     1977 
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 4     1978 
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 5     1980 
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 6     1980 
The Young Magicians     1969 
Thongor Against the Gods     1967 
Thongor at the End of Time     1968 
Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus     1970 
Thongor in the City of Magicians     1968 
Thongor of Lemuria aka Thongor and the Dragon City  1966 
Time War     1974 
Tolkien : A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings"     1969 
Tower at the Edge of Time     1968 
Tower of the Medusa     1969 
Under the Green Star     1972 
Weird Tales 1     1980 
Weird Tales 2     1980 
Weird Tales 3     1981 
Weird Tales 4     1983 
When the Green Star Calls     1973 
Xothic: Selected Fiction of Lin Carter with Robert Price  1997 
Ylana of Callisto   1977 
Zanthodon     1980 
Zarkon, Lord of the Unknown   1975 
Zarkon, Lord of the Unknown, in The Earth-Shaker    1982 
Zarkon, Lord of the Unknown, in The Nemesis of Evil   1975 
Zarkon, Lord of the Unknown, in The Volcano Ogre 1976
Basic Reading List of Modern Heroic Fantasy 1969 
A Few Last Words     1969 
A Guide to the City     1969 
A Sort of Introduction, Called Here, and Back Again  1969 
About The Spawn of CTHULHU and H.P.Lovecraft  1971 
An APA For Everyone     1966 
At Nycon #3     1968 
Beyond the Pillars of Hercules     1970 
Black Abyss with Robert E.Howard     1967 
Black Hawk of Valkarth     1974 
Black Moonlight     1976 
Black Sphinx of Nebthu with  de Camp  1973 
Black Tears with L.Sprague de Camp 1968 
Conventions Galore     1966 
Crown of Stars     1966 
Dead of Night     1988 
Demon-Dreaded Lore     1993 
Dreams in the House of Weir     1980 
Exile of Atlantis with Robert E.Howard     1967 
Fan into Pro     1967 
Fandom in Europe Today     1967 
Fans Down Under     1967 
Flashing Swords and Black Magicians    1974 
Foreign Fandom     1968 
Friday at the Fanoclasts     1967 
Geydelle's Protective     1985 
Handy Phrase Book in Fannish     1966 
Happy Far-off Things     1988 
Harvey Hodges, Veebelfetzer     1969 
How to Live Like a Slan     1966 
In the Vale of Pnath     1975 
It's New York in '67!  1967 
Keru     1969 
Legions of the Dead with L.Sprague de Camp     1978 
Litany to Hastur    1965 
Literary Swordsmen & Sorcerers: de Camp: Quixote with Pen 1977
Makers of Worlds    1971 
Masters of the Metropolis with Randall Garrett 1957 
Meanwhile Back at the Nycon     1968 
Moon of Blood with L.Sprague de Camp     1978 
Mu    1988 
New Current in Fandom     1968 
Of Swordsmen and Sorcerers     1973 
Of Warriors and Wizards     1977 
Other Stars And Skies     1988 
Our Man in Fandom     1966 
Out of the Ages     1975 
Owlstone     1969 
People of the Dragon     1976 
Prolog with Robert E.Howard     1967 
Red Moon of Zembabwei with  de Camp  1974 
Return to the World's Edge     1988 
Riders Beyond the Sunrise with Robert E.Howard   1967 
Sabbat Eve   1988 
Science Fiction's Holiday   1966 
Science-Fiction Fanways   1966 
Several Editor's Notes   1988 
SF Superclubs     1967 
Shadows in the Dark with L.Sprague de Camp     1978 
Shadows in the Skull with L.Sprague de Camp     1975 
Something in the Moonlight     1980 
Still More Fandoms     1967 
The "Other" Fandoms     1966 
The City in the Jewel     1975 
The City of Skulls avec L.Sprague de Camp     1967 
The Curious Custom of the Turjan Seraad     1976 
Curse of the Monolith (Conan & Cenotaph) with de Camp 1968 
Descent Into the Abyss with Clark Ashton Smith   1980 
The Eyrie     1981 
The Fan Awards    1967 
The Gem in the Tower with L.Sprague de Camp  1978 
The Goblinry of Ais     1985 
The Hand of Nergal with Robert E.Howard  1967 
The Higher Heresies of Oolimar     1973 
The Horns of Elfland     1976 
The Hugo and the Nebula     1967 
The Ivory Goddess with L.Sprague de Camp  1978 
The Lair of the Ice Worms with L.Sprague de Camp 1969 
The Light From the Pole avec Clark Ashton Smith     1980 
The Mantichore     1969 
The Martian El Dorado of Parker Wintley     1976 
The N3F and Others     1967 
The Pillars of Hell     1977 
The Purpose of Fandom     1967 
The Scroll of Morloc with Clark Ashton Smith 1975 
The Seal of Zaon Sathla     1970 
Snout in the Dark with R.E.Howard &  de Camp 1969 
The Stairs in the Crypt avec Clark Ashton Smith     1976 
The Sword of Power     1971 
The Tower of Time avec Robert E.Howard     1975 
The Vengeance of Yig     1983 
The Winfield Inheritance     1981 
The Witch of the Mists with L.Sprague de Camp  1972 
The Year in Fantasy     1975 
The Year's Best Fantasy Books     1975 
Uncollected Works     1965 
Walpurgisnacht     1988 
Warriors and Wizards     1976 
Where Magic Reigns     1981 
Wizard and Warrior with Robert E.Howard   1967 
Zingazar     1971


Steve Servello
Bomba the Jungle Boy: 
An Analysis Noting Similarities to Tarzan 
Part I: Bomba Titles 1-5
Part II: Bomba Titles 6-10
For more Lin Carter features see our Den Valdron features:
Carter's Callisto
Shape of Thanator
Alien Races of Callisto
Civilization of Callisto
Barsoom-Thanator Connection
Callisto Pellucidar
Callisto Future
Literary Zanthodon
Literal Zanthodon
Linguistic Zanthodon, 
Pellucidar, Mangani, Pal-ul-don
Colonial Barsoom
Colonial Appendix

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