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Volume 6420

A Romance of Tarzan and La
By Jim Malachowski

Cover art by Joe Jusko

If you ask me to name the female character who has created the most interest in me in all the fiction I have read over the years, it would have to be Edgar Rice Burroughs’ femme fatale — La. 

I think ERB did not flesh out the character of La to possibly keep her mysterious and an enigma.  I always hoped that ERB would have gone back to La and told her whole story making her the center of attention – not Tarzan.  Wishful thinking, he never did.

So Song of Opar is my attempt to enlarge upon my favorite of ERB’s creations.  I am attempting to fill in all the missing pieces, as well as revising some of the shortcomings (in my way of thinking) of the novels in which La appeared.

I really don’t believe ERB knew the effect this woman would have on the psyche of pre-teenage boys who read the stories. 

When it came to creating a woman for male readers to lust over, ERB probably did a better job than even he anticipated.  La exudes sex in every scene in which she appears and gives hints of her innocent sexuality.  There is always the insinuation of nudity about her.  She is  always topless and uses bits of bangles and animal skins to gird her loins.  She seems to be unaware of her effect on Tarzan.  However, as Tarzan is the first man she has ever been attracted to, she is quite capable of flaunting her charms to capture his attention. 

There was always a tremendous mystique and surrounding La.  Despite her brief appearances in ERB’s stories she was totally fascinating and always dominated the scene.   I felt, strongly, the desire to know more about her – to have more of her secrets revealed.  My personal wish was to  have her appear in more Tarzan epics (not just cameo appearances), and perhaps her own novel.  The way ERB presented her was as a fill-in character playing the ultimate tease.   Perhaps ERB did not realize the power he had infused into La by  giving her the ability to beguile men in the few words written about her.

I chose to offer a plausible story of the origins of Opar in the dim past.  I began what I call the modern period of Opar’s history by starting with Waziri, as a young man, traveling to Opar to seek his fortune.  With pressures coming upon Opar and its residents in the build-up to the second world war, I wanted to document it’s demise and narrate the fate of the remaining inhabitants.

About fifteen years ago I developed a fascination for the history of Egypt.  I have a shelf with books covering most of the facets of that civilization’s ancient beginnings.  My wife and I made trips to Egypt in 2009 and 2011.  We left Cairo just weeks before the Arab Spring uprising.  During those visits, we traveled the country from North to South, including a boat trip south on the Nile. So we experienced (in a more civilized manner) the colonization voyage that is described in Song of Opar.

My opinion is that Egypt was the foundation of the civilization we know today.  Many of the religious beliefs were founded thousands of years ago in the cities along the Nile.  The civilization of Ancient Egypt is the only one in history that totally collapsed twice and resurrected itself after the falls.  Interestingly enough after both devastations, the new leaders chose to recreate the same type of government that had existed previously.

The fall of ancient Egypt at the end of the sixth dynasty stranding and isolating the people of Opar is a historical fact.  The ruler at the time of the collapse was Pepi II.  He ruled for 94 years.  The drying up of the Nile was historical fact.  This drought and many more that occurred for shorter periods of time were regional and seemed to affect many ancient countries bordering the Mediterranean.

These years known as the First Intermediate period, meaning the 150 years that passed between the collapse of the Old Kingdom and the rise of the Middle Kingdom.  I left out of Song of Opar mentions, in carvings, of people depicted as starving and eating their own children.  These events are recorded in northern and central Egypt.

The names of the characters introduced in the first 75 pages of the book are actual popular names used in that period of time for men and women.

The location of the colonies of Opar takes place where it does because there is gold in those mountains.  There  is where (historically) the people of Kush (Nubia) minded the gold they paid to the Pharaohs in the form of protection money.

Worship of the sun began in ancient Egypt prior to the third dynasty (about 2600 BC).  Human sacrifice goes back to what is called Dynasty Zero (about 3000 BC).  Large numbers of bodies were found buried alongside the leader at his interment.  One of these burials contained over 600 corpses.  Human sacrifice seemed to die out in Egypt around the third or fourth dynasty.  The sun worshipers who helped establish the Opar colonies found reasons to bring back the ideas of human sacrifice to placate the sun god Ra.  It is easy to see how human sacrifice became linked to worship of Ra, the sun god in the colony of Opar.  I chose three generations of Opar’s women rulers because that is, I believe, as far as non-written histories would have survived as memories.

Direction from the London Tube Station to the British Museum is accurate.  Sir Frederic Kenyon is a historical figure.  The Silver Mines in London exist exactly where I have placed them, and can be visited today.  The Tube Stations mentioned exist where I say they are located.

Obviously, the dates of the two World Wars are accurate.  The conditions as listed speak of the fate of the wealthy landowners and the facts about the heads of state in Europe are as described.

Hitler was obsessed with the supernatural and occult.  He was also fixated on money since his life was adversely affected by the conditions placed on Germany at the end of World War I. 

Tarzan’s concerns that Opar may be spotted from the air by German recon aircraft, photographed and ransacked – were real fears.  Between the world wars, Germany began quietly building up a presence in Africa.  Hitler was smart enough to know of the mineral riches of this vast group of fragmented nations.  Tarzan’s concerns and the growing threat of the Manyeuma provided a great reason for Opar to be stripped and abandoned in order to provide money to the cash-starved Great Britain.

When I began reading the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs as a boy, there were several concepts he presented that bothered me.  These problems were plain to me even as a young person.  I wanted, in my Opar universe, to present different scenarios for the following issues: 

  •  The sort of catch-all origin for Opar as Atlantis.
  • I wanted to base Opar on a real civilization that had vanished.  What better than Ancient Egypt?  It was, in reality, a much more powerful country than the theoretical Atlantis.  Their armies were the most feared and traveled, marauding, as far as Crete, Turkey and all many other countries that bordered the Mediterranean.  So Opar was not ten thousand years old.  The Egyptian civilization was more than five thousand years old — close enough for me.
  • The horrible men of Opar. 
  •  The First Men, named in Return of Tarzan, lived with the inhabitants of Opar.  That coupled with the fact that all the women were beautiful and the men horribly ugly made me wonder:
  • Why would the apes give up the freedom of the jungle to be  confined within the walls of the city?
  • The citizens of Opar spoke the language of the apes.
  • Why would the people of Opar give up their sophisticated language in order to speak with the apes and use the apes very simplistic language? 
  • As I remember in earlier Tarzan novels his conversations with the tribe of Kerchak,  the communication was quite primitive.  It was nothing like the sophisticated language La spoke to Tarzan (in Return of Tarzan) when she explained the history of Opar.
  • I would like to have seen those teaching sessions.
  • There had to be a better solution to how Tarzan could communicate with La.  After all, Waziri had visited Opar years ago. 
  • The women of Opar would mate with the First Men and produce offspring.
  • I remember asking my mother if women could have babies with apes.  That was almost the end of my reading career with ERB.  I later found in science class that apes and women could not produce children.
In reviews of Song of Opar, I heard the following the following comment a number of times – ‘you only have Tarzan visiting Opar three times, when ERB had him visiting Opar five or six times.’  (Depending on your opinion of Tarzan Twins). 

I chose to recreate three visits for a couple of reasons:  It is my story.   Three visits fit into the storyline I chose to create.  Another thought is that ERB’s universe for Tarzan and La is different from the one I chose to build, as Phil Farmer and Chris Carey’s great novels of ancient Opar are a different universe.  The essays of Frank Brueckel and John Harwood are another example of speculations, especially on Opar’s roots.  Phil Farmer’s version of the end of Opar, (in Tarzan Alive), is still another universe.
Song of Opar would have been a ‘cop-out’ if it just replicated the five or six visits from the ERB novels, then gave no definitive conclusion to the city and inhabitants of Opar.  Why bother? 

Other comments I heard were about ‘ killing off Jane.’  If anyone thinks Jane was killed off by me, they are mistaken, or their own thoughts are creating a scenario that does not exist.  I was very careful in the plot and interaction between Tarzan and La.  I have inferred that Jane never fully recovered from her injuries (and most probably never would).  This was introduced to put Tarzan in a quandary of what his relationship should/could be with La.  Here obviously was a woman who was infatuated with him, but she came to realize there was an impediment to her dreams being fulfilled.  Tarzan is clearly unsure of his feelings and probably did not trust his own judgment when he brought up the discussion with Father Martin.  I purposely left the conclusions to any possible relationship for the reader to speculate.  There obviously was a relationship because Tarzan was in La’s life until the end.  But once again it is up to the readers to define in their own minds the extent of Tarzan and La’s bond.

The episode I described with Jane being struck nearly happened, in that very spot, to someone I love very much.  She, like Jane, was headed to the Connaught Hotel for high tea.  The private hospital where Jane is taken is real.  Wekbeck is the closest hospital to where the accident occurred.

My thoughts concerning the illustrations for Song of Opar.  The women who posed for the images I created for the pseudo-line drawings are all full-time professional models.  All illustrations are copyrighted by me as a photographer, and as part of the copyright process to protect the book.  I will discuss the process I took to create these distinct looks in another discussion.

Two other inquiries I get are:  Will there be a hardcover edition and will there be another La/Opar novel?  If there is a hardcover, it will be severely limited and expensive.  On the sequel issue — never say never.

From the interest generated for Song of Opar, I daresay there are more boys out there who are still fascinated by La and her wonderfully mysterious city of Opar.


Jim, give me some background information on your new Tarzan/La novel.

Song of Opar expands the information about Opar’s founding.  It explores many ideas that ERB only mentioned in passing.  I have done my best to make Opar come alive and to any answer many of the “why”, “how” and “what” questions.  While Tarzan is a main character in Song of Opar, much of the story involves the physical lost city and some of the high priests and priestesses who lived and ruled there.  There is  a heavy emphasis on La, of whom we get to know more intimately.

The idea of telling the story of Opar from another perspective comes from Robin Maxwell’s fine novel Jane.  Jane Porter is the protagonist in Robin’s novel.  Tarzan is not the main character and total focus point .

Just a bit about me: I have been a Burroughs Bibliophiles member since the early 1970s.  My background is computer management and professional photography.  My wife and I live in Sarasota, Florida with our two dogs.

I am the publisher and distributor.  The book is not part of the “Wild Adventures” series.

Is it just a retelling of the novels in which La and Opar appear?

First, let me say Song of Opar only deals with the initial three appearances of La and Opar.  The other references, I believe, came from ERB’s imagination.

I prefer to think of the novel as an updating and consolidation of all things Opar, La and Tarzan, of course.

You should remember those books (Return, Jewels, and Golden) were written in March of 1915, April of 1918 and March of 1923.  We have gained much more knowledge than was available to ERB.

Why do we need a retelling of the Opar portions of three novels?

Excellent question.  New information about the events that surrounded those original novels has come forward.  For one, a very important diary has surfaced.  The diary was kept by someone who knew what really happened.

I am operating under a Non-Disclosure Agreement on information about the diary, and that is all I can say about the subject.

Many of Great Britain’s secret documents from the Second World War have been released, and they contain interesting information concerning Lord Greystoke’s involvement in the war effort during and after.

Archaeology has made a lot of advances and discoveries in the years following the time ERB wrote the novels.

Tell me a bit more about the book and when it will be available.

Some of the following are tentative and subject to change.   The book will be ready for public release June of 2018, and available to ERB fans during the ECOF in Folsom.  After that, it may be ordered online directly from me or from  I am just now exploring other distribution avenues.  Inquiries should be directed to:

The book will first be published as a 6 x 9 quality trade paperback of about 400 pages and 115,000 words.  Song of Opar will contain about thirty illustrations and a strikingly beautiful cover painting by Joe Jusko.  I expect it to be out of print in mid-2019.

There may be a deluxe hardcover edition of Song of Opar published at a later time.  If this happens, it will be a very small print run, and not reprinted.  Thoughts now would be for a folio of the interior illustrations to be included with the purchase of that deluxe edition.

As it exists, there will be a finite number of books printed. Song of Opar will currently not be in electronic form.

So, who created the interior illustrations?

The interior line drawings in the book are my creations.  I photographed eight or nine professional models for the major characters in the book.   All sessions were separate and happened over the course of a year.  Over a thousand pictures were created.  I made the costumes.  The models were shot on a background that was removed later in the process.  Using Photoshop, I converted the images into line drawings.  I started to develop this line art process over five years ago.

This was particularly challenging because the models were photographed  before  any of the book had been written.  And, no, I did not write the story to fit the images.

By the way, all models are professional are over 18 years old.  All illustrations and the book are copyrighted.

Can you tell me a bit more about the story of Song of Opar?

When I first read the Tarzan novels dealing with Opar, I had questioned some of the basic assumptions.

First, where did Opar come from?  The answer in the book of Atlantis just did not work.  Other than a few lines mentioned by Plato, there is still no definitive evidence that Atlantis ever existed.  I have chosen to ground Opar in a real civilization, with plausable reasons for the Opar’s creation and why it became cut off from the mother country.

Second, how exactly would the people of Opar learn to speak the language of the Great Apes?    No matter how long the people of Opar were cut off from their founders, they continued to use their native language.  Would it change?  Of course it would, but they would not abandon it to go with an extremely simple language limited in vocabulary.  For me, it was a better idea to introduce another human language into Opar.

Third is the issue of Opar’s women mating with the Great Apes.  It would not work.  The two species could not create a child, (for the same reason a dog and a cat can’t produce offspring).

My thoughts always were that ERB would have come back and written an Opar novel that would incorporate changes he knew had to be made.  He probably would have written a novel with a conclusion to La’s life and the end of Opar itself.  The end of Opar as described by Philip Jose Farmer in Tarzan Alive left me with an empty feeling.  So Tarzan came back, and everyone was gone - still not a good conclusion to the Opar legend.

World War II gave ERB an opportunity to do something he loved.  He was a war correspondent, read by thousands of people.  His service also exacerbated some medical problems be suffered, and he paid a heavy price.  ERB basically lost five years of writing novels because of the war and the severe decline in his health.

You seem that have a good mix of fictional characters and historical characters in Song of Opar.

I think it helps to ground the story in a time period if there are people who actually lived then.

The facts concerning Egypt four thousand years ago are as correct as is possible.  The inundation of the Nile, until the construction of the Aswan Dam, occurred every year in July.  The Egyptian civilization is the only one in the world that totally collapsed twice and recovered.

Any final thoughts, Jim?

I hope this story will be embraced into the legend of Tarzan and hold a place in the series of Tarzan stories.

The legend of Opar has always been the stories of Tarzan that I repeatedly read over the years.  There were just so many questions in my mind that needed to be answered, so I decided to create the answers myself.

I feel strongly enough about my story that if there were only one book printed and it was on my bookshelves, that would be enough.

A Mulitude of Glowing Reviews

Here are a few of them. . .


5.0 out of 5 stars
IF you like Edgar Rice Burroughs stories
ByDonald Grayon June 2, 2018
IF you like Edgar Rice Burroughs stories, you will love this continuation of the Opar adventures. It take you right back into the ERB world and La, the high priestess. Great story and cover by Joe Jusko. The cover is much more brilliant in person than the photo. ERB INC. did right by Burroughs by authorizing the book.
5.0 out of 5 stars
What every one needs to know about La nd wasn't afraid to ask.
Byernie mureskoon June 15, 2018
I loved this book. It gave the complete history of Opar and the origin of La. The author went alot further that ERB did, but he was the master who did create her. La was only in a few of the Tarzan stories and I thank the author for making her the main subject of this book.This book belongs in the collection of every ERB fan. I just wonder what he has cooked yp for his next book.
5.0 out of 5 stars
ByGW Burnson July 5, 2018
I loved Song of Opar and it is a must for any ERB fan. It weaves La furthermore into the Tarzan Saga and fills in a lot of what was missing. The author creates a wonderful story of intrigue that makes you not want to put the book down.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fans of fantasy, fans of Tarzan and fans of original good fiction must read!
ByBrenda Tuckeron May 14, 2018
Fans of Tarzan will love this book! Stays true to his noble character. Do not let the slow start fool you, as the story unfolds you will be carried away to another world. Personally I love history so thoroughly enjoyed the beginning. Others may want to speed thru that part but it does add to the understanding of the characters. Hopefully there will be more from Mr Malachowski. Too many contemporary authors lack imagination, and the ability to bring the characters to life as believable people as he has.
5.0 out of 5 stars
The illustrations are wonderful. Glad I read it
ByJCGon June 25, 2018
This book is really a history of Opar, and as such, Tarzan doesn't make an appearance until about half way through the book. But, Tarzan makes up for his late appearance with plenty of action. This is really an interesting book. The author did a lot of research into creating this novel, it is obvious. The illustrations are wonderful. Glad I read it.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Song of Opar is a novel that provides an origin ...
By Michael A Conranon June 21, 2018
Song of Opar is a novel that provides an origin of the lost city of Opar based in the history of Africa. The story provides an alternative universe with more adventures of Tarzan and La not documented anywhere else. Song of Opar is an enjoyable story with an intriguing basis for the establishment of the Lost City of Opar.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Song of Opar is a jewel!
By Pilot Roberton July 7, 2018
Author of Dragonborn: Book Two in the Foxborn Trilogy 
Very enjoyable book. The story begins with the origin of Opar and progresses through the history of the lost city until Tarzan 'discovers' the city. From there, it explores the complex relationship between Tarzan and La, the High Priestess of Opar.

The book is well-crafted and illustrated. Malachowski has done his research and keeps the story true to the Tarzan mythos, while providing new adventures that take place concurrently with original Tarzan books. Clearly a labor of love and respect.

It's difficult to write a detailed review without spoiling the book, but rest assured if you are a long time reader of Tarzan, you won't be disappointed with this addition. If you've never read a Tarzan novel, this book stands on it's own merits. Put on your walking shoes and journey through the Aftrican jungle to the goldmines and lost city of Opar. You'll enjoy the trip.

5 out of 5 stars
Song of Opar is a fantastic read.
By Harry Chow on August 1, 2018
Jim Malachowski’s novel, Song of Opar is a fantastic read. He tells the story of the rise and fall of the ancient city of Opar. The Egyptian founded the city of Opar centuries ago due to large amount of gold deposits in the area, so essentially a gold mining town.

Jim introduces the readers to characters like Menkhaf, Pepi II, Neteru, the Waziri tribe, La, and last but not least, Tarzan. All of these characters had a personal connection to Opar. For example, Menkhaf was the 1st governor of Opar.

Song of Opar contains short chapters. What’s good about this is that it keeps the readers attention. Jim is able to give vivid details, descriptions, and accounts of how Opar was created, functioned, and destroyed and how all the characters played a role.

What especially shines in Song of Opar is one of the most well known characters in the comic books and TV, Tarzan. Tarzan’s presents starts about halfway through the novel. Jim’s portrayal of Tarzan as a man of integrity and values. For example, his willingness to defend Opar from the Manyuema tribe at all cost or his faithfulness to his significant other Jane Porter even though he was also close to La, High Priestess of Opar. Even after the demise of Opar, Tarzan went out of his way to make sure that La, May-at, and Soma was well taken care of.

I am more than honored to recommend, Song of Opar. Jim showed his inner-Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan) in Song of Opar. Mr. Burroughs would be very proud of the way Jim portrayed the Tarzan character. Jim truly is keeping the Tarzan genre alive and well through the Song of Opar.

4.0 out of 5 stars
A Retcon of Tarzan and La
By Kevin Wileyon August 4, 2018
Verified Purchase
First off I must state I feel a bit guilty to be the first one to give Jim Malachowski’s (JM) well written book anything less than 5 stars, that said let me get to the review.

This book explains the history and very existence of the “lost” city of Opar, which is integral to several of ERB’s Tarzan novels. Therefore if you haven’t at least read Tarzan of the Apes and The Return of Tarzan, you simply aren’t the target audience of this book as all the exposition and fictionalized-history of the first half of the book would be lost on you. Far better you go read ERB’s works first.

If you have read at least the first two Tarzan books I think you will be fascinated by Opar’s back story as a colony of Egypt set up by a pharaoh of the Old Kingdom. JM appears to be a historian of some repute as he provides very plausible reasons for Opar’s founding, continued existence, and why it was “lost” to the history books. (BTW all of this will fly in the face of Philip Jose Farmer’s Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar novels – so if you are wedded to those books, this book is probably not the book for you.)

JM then brings us up to, thru, and beyond Tarzan’s adventures in Opar. These would occur in ERB’s Return of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan and the Golden Lion, and Tarzan the Invincible. In a well crafted story that will center on what became of La High Priestess of Opar and the inhabitants of Opar you will end up caring for the fates of the Oparians that he chronicles.

While I am not a Tarzan Scholar, nor have I read all of the Tarzan novels, I have read the four at issue over the decades and therein lays the problem I began to experience with this book. As I read about Tarzan’s entry into Opar’s history the back of my mind was saying “that’s not the way that happened”. I grabbed my copy of Return of Tarzan and began comparing novels and noted a number of small discrepancies.

Changes were made by JM which were really of no import and yet added nothing to JM’s story in their making, so why would he make them? To give a couple of examples: in Return of Tarzan, Tarzan and La discover they can speak to each other in the language of the great apes or the “language of the first man”, and Tarzan is hidden in a room that is the Chamber of the Dead which for the Oparians is a taboo place, and will mean death from the ghosts that inhabit it. However in Song of Opar Tarzan and La converse in Waziri and he is hidden in the private storage room of La, in which no one is permitted. As I said, no harm done to canon but the changes need not have been made at all.

These small changes really are nothing more than an irritant, but then the two stories deviated in a major way. In Return of Tarzan, Tarzan and his Waziri warriors in effect steal the gold bullion they take from the vaults of Opar; in Song of Opar La provides Tarzan the gold as a gift. Obviously the manner in which the gold is removed from Opar has major implications for how a reader would view Tarzan and La’s “relationship”.

I did not bother tracking down the details of how Song of Opar deviated from ERB’s other three novels to feature Opar, but off the top of my head I don’t believe the events of Tarzan the Invincible and Song of Opar are even remotely reconcilable. Also JM provides a fate for Jane that I have never heard of before, and believe was manufactured strictly for this book.

So in the end JM gives a more grounded, plausible history of Opar than did Philip Jose Farmer, and characters which you will care about. However his story of how Tarzan interacted with Opar and La deviate greatly from ERB’s canon. And this is why I can only manage to give this book 4 stars.

Pros: A loving “else worlds” tribute to Tarzan’s literary history.
Cons: Does not follow ERB’s canon and that might be off putting to a Tarzan purist. Also a story that is not accessible by Tarzan newcomers.

5 out of 5 stars
Very impressed
Byromanon July 1, 2018
Verified Purchase
very impressed-thought provoking-adds to Tarzan myth-really enjoyed Tarzan/La interplay-best part of book altho prehistory prior to Tarzan visit is well established-need to reread Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
5.0 out of 5 stars
Five Stars
By Charles G. Alkireon July 8, 2018
A really great read and thoughtful continuation of the legend. ERB would be pleased.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful new Tarzan and La story!
ByROBERT KOSTROUNon July 4, 2018
Beautifully illustrated, well researched book with a great feeling for history. Expands the Tarzan mythology in very fascinating ways. A great read!


ERB References
The Return of Tarzan

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar

Tarzan and the Golden Lion

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