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Volume 0727
 A Collector's Hypertexted and Annotated Storehouse of Encyclopedic Resources
J. Allen St. John: Tarzan's Quest - wrap-around DJ - 5 b/w interior plates
Larger DJ Image
Large Cover Image
Large Cover Art by St. John
ERB, Inc. 1st. Ed DJ Front by J. Allan St. John (very large)
Written May 1934 - January 1935 ~ working title Tarzan and Jane
Read the e-Text Edition


Blue Book Magazine: 1935: October, November, December ~ 1936: January, February, March
    Herbert Morton Stoops: first installment cover
    Frank Hoban: many interiors
ERB, Inc. Tarzana: September 1, 1936 ~ 318 pages ~ Print Run: 5,000 ~ Word count estimate: 72,000
    J. Allen St. John: wrap-around DJ and five b/w interior plates
Grosset & Dunlap: 1938
    J. Allen St. John: DJ and b/w frontispiece
Grosset & Dunlap: 1940 ~ no frontispiece
ERB, Inc. Tarzana: March 26, 1948 ~ DJ and frontispiece
Ballantine paperback: March 1964 ~ 191 pages
    Richard Powers cover
Ballantine paperback: September 1977
    Boris Vallejo cover
For detailed information, see Robert B. Zeuschner's
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Bibliography (ERB, Inc., 2016).
Click on or call 214-405-6741 to order a copy.
Tarzan's Quest
Tarzan's wife Jane (her first appearance since Tarzan and the Ant Men and also her last as a major character in the series), becomes involved in a search for a bloodthirsty lost tribe reputed to possess an immortality drug. Also drawn in are Tarzan and his monkey companion, little Nkima, and Chief Muviro and his faithful Waziri warriors, who are searching for Muviro's lost daughter Buira. Nkima's vital contribution to the adventure is recognized when he is made a recipient of the treatment along with the human protagonists at the end of the novel.
CAST (in order of appearance)
Hazel Strong ~ Lady Tennington, Jane's Baltimore friend
Jane Clayton ~ Lady Greystoke, wife of Tarzan
Kitty Krause Peters ~ Princess Sborov, wife of Alexis
Alexis Sborov ~ Russian prince
TARZAN of the Apes ~ John Clayton, Lord Greystoke
Nkima ~ little monkey, friend of Tarzan
Muviro ~ Chief of Tarzan's Waziri warriors
Buira ~ Muviro's daughter, kidnapped by Kavurus
Mr. Brown ~ American pilot for the Sborovs
Annette ~ Princess Sborov's French maid
Tibbs ~ Prince Sborov's English valet
Udalo ~ Chief of the Bukena
Gupingu ~ Bukena Witch-Doctor
Ydeni ~ Kavuru who captures Naika
Naika ~ Gupingu's daughter
Ogdli ~ Kavuru who captures Jane
Balando ~ a Waziri warrior
Kavandavanda ~ Kavuru King and High Priest
Medek ~ Black slave of Kavuru

Cast List Ref: Clark A. Brady's Burroughs Cyclopedia and Ed Stephan's Tarzan of the Internet

Book Blurb Summary
from Ballantine Books
Tarzan of the Apes had heard only rumors of the Kavurua race of strange white savages. But when they stole the daughter of Muviro, chief of the Waziri, the Lord of the Jungle set out in search of their legend-shrouded village on a mission of rescue or, if need be, of revenge. He could not know that his trail ran close to that of a strange group of survivors of a crashed plane including his beloved mate, Jane who struggled for survival against the terrors of Africa and an even worse danger within their own party. But the stranded Europeans and the ape-man were destined for a rendezvous of blood and fire in the dreaded temple of the kavuru.

I. The Princess Sborov
II. Sound Above the Storm
III. Out of Gas
IV. In the Kraal of Udalo
V. "The Lion Is Coming!"
VI. The Ballot of Death
VII. The Merry Company
VIII. Ydeni, the Kavuru
IX. Sheeta, the Leopard
X. Abduction
XI. "Seventy Million Dollars"
XII. Murder in the Night
XIII. Treachery
XIV. Nkima Forgets
XV. A Bit of Cloth
XVI. The Message
XVII. The Snake
XVIII. A Bit of Paper
XIX. Hate and Lust
XX. Nkima Plays a Game
XXI. Only Two Left
XXII. Stalked by Numa
XXIII. Captive
XXIV. Down into Darkness
XXV. Defeat
XXVI. Tarzan Stalks Brown
XXVII. Madmen and Leopards
XXVIII. Kavandavanda
XXIX. To What Doom
XXX. "The Dead Men Fly!"
XXXI. The Wages of Sin

A Review Submitted by Doc Hermes
From the October 1935 to March 1936 issues of BLUE BOOK, where it appeared as "Tarzan and the Immortal Men", this is surprisingly lively and enjoyable. The Tarzan series peaked about halfway through; after TARZAN AND THE ANT MEN, Burroughs dropped our hero`s family as though they had never existed and grudgingly cranked out a repetitive number of books where the Apeman stumbled upon paired warring cities of lost civilizations. None of these books are completely hopeless or unreadable*, but compared to, say, TARZAN THE TERRIBLE or TARZAN AND THE JEWELS OF OPAR, they are limp and unexciting.

The best thing about TARZAN`S QUEST is the unexpected return of Jane, Lady Greystoke. We haven`t seen her since TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION and she hasn`t even been mentioned for the past ten years. For all a new reader would know, the Apeman is a solitary creature meandering through Africa with only a monkey and a lion as companions. Not only does Jane turn up on the very first page, she actually gets more time onstage than Lord Greystoke himself.

Jane is a delight, as always. She is so resourceful, competent, thoughtful and good-natured that she could carry the book by herself. Stranded in the jungle with a motley crew of people totally unsuited for survival there, she takes charge as well as Tarzan himself might and with much more patience. Jane can fashion a bow and arrows, leap lightly up into the trees and come back with game for everyone. At one point, she stubbornly refuses to give up her kill to a challenging leopard and promptly sends three arrows into the big cat`s heart. 

We are told early on that Jane has chartered a plane to go see what mischief her old man is getting into. ("You see, Lord Greystoke spends a great deal of time in Africa. I am planning on joining him there.") So evidently the previous eight books have been misleading, only showing us Tarzan when he`s on vacation and lumbering around the jungle. The rest of the time, he`s still taking care of his huge estate and spending time with his wife. (Still no sign of Korak, Miriem or little Jackie, though.)

Now, this is an obvious observation but it seems significant that, while Burroughs` marriage to Emma was going sour, his alter-ego`s wife and family vanished from the stories. When he wrote this book, Burroughs was getting his divorce and solidifying a new relationship. In TARZAN`S QUEST, the crash survivors are burdened by the totally useless and whiny Princess Sborov. An old friend of Jane`s, this woman is a wealthy widow who remarried a much younger social climber with a title (much is made of this royalty scam). It`s just conjecture, but it seems likely that Burroughs was acting out his conflicts on the page with Jane representing his new love and the princess standing in for the wife he wishes to be rid of. (The fact that the princess abruptly ends up with a hatchet in her head might be a slight case of wish fulfilment.)

Half the book follows the troubles of Jane`s party as they deal with the situation by the usual bickering and sniping we can expect in stories about survivors of shipwrecks or plane crashes.  Buroughs lays it on pretty thick with the characterization, but then this IS pulp adventure where we want broad strokes and bright colors; we`re not dealing with Arthur Miller here. The stoic English butler Tibbs and the rough street-jive  American pilot Brown are exaggerated stereoypes but at least they are distinct. 

One thing that I don`t like about Burroughs` villains is that he gives them such a comprehensive range of vileness. They are not men with a weakness for the flesh or uncontrolled greed or a violent temper. No, ever since Rokoff way back in RETURN OF TARZAN, the typical bad guy contains every possible evil trait you can name. The prince is this story shifts from cowardice to greed to lust to homicide at the blink of an eye. He`s so thoroughly despicable that it`s hard to give him any credence. Even one redeeming trait or a hint of remorse would have made him come to life on the page; as it is, he might as well have little horns and a barbed tail.

The other half of the storyline follows Tarzan leading a squad of his intrepid Waziri to rescue Muviro`s kidnapped young daughter. There are these guys called the Kavuru living out there in the wilderness, and for hundreds of years they have been abducting nubile wenches for some mysterious purpose. It turns out the Kavuru are a sect of white barbarians who have discovered a longevity serum. They can stay young and robust indefinitely but, since the serum requires the glands and blood of young women..... well, (ahem) there are no Kavuru women left by this point and the Immortal Men must obtain the needed ingredients any way they can. 

The high priest of this cult is a buff blond guy named Kavandavanda, one of the better supervillains in Burroughs. Although he looks like a Malibu surfer, the necklace made of human teeth is a good clue to his real nature. He has lost track of exactly how old he is (maybe a thousand years old, maybe more), he heads a murderous cult that has killed who knows how many women to stay young (the last neophyte joined the order a hundred years earlier) and he has started developing psychic powers (the Kavuru put their victims in a compliant trance with a weird whistling call). 

Kavandavanda also has serious gender issues ("Man may only attain godliness alone. Woman weakens and destroys him.... How have we attained this deathlessness? Through women. We are all celibate. Our vows of celibacy were sealed in the blood of women....") Well, it`s true a vow of celibacy will make your life SEEM much longer.

Despite all this rhetoric, Kavandavanda is (like just about every man in the books) immediately smitten with Jane Clayton and lusts for her bod. ("I`ll keep you; I`ll tame you - and I`ll start now.") Jane must be quite the babe. Everyone from shieks to aristocrats to gorillas gets one look at her and starts to pant and stamp one foot on the ground. The moment I read about the Kavuru, I would have bet money that Jane would end up their defiant prisoner, trading sassy remarks with the cult leader.

Much has been made by Philip Jose Farmer and fans of the Kavuru pills. True, Tarzan divides a large supply of the longevity pills among the surviving members of the party. (Typically, Burroughs has a character remark the monkey Nkima deserves a share since "He`s sure a lot more use in the world than most people". Nice attitude. How about a few pills for good old Muviro, the lifelong friend who has come to Tarzan`s rescue so often? Or maybe Korak, his wife or their child. It`s hard to respect a man who would give extended life to his pet monkey rather than his own grandson.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. Since a main ingredient of the Kavuru pills are the body parts of murdered young women, you might expect Jane and her friends to have a little misgiving about taking them. True, if you just had to swallow a single pill to get extended life, most people would be tempted enough to pop one. But it`s clearly stated that the pills have to be taken regularly to work, so this means once a month ("...each time that the moon comes full...") ingesting something made out of slaughtered human beings. Also, since the pills have only a temporary effect, and there is a large but finite supply divvied up here among five people (six, if they really give a share to Nkima), the pills are going to run out at some point. It has been a long time since 1934, and I think it`s safe to say the last Kavuru pill went down the hatch some time ago. If Tarzan is still running around looking like a thirty young old, it must be due to something else. (That witch doctor potion, maybe?)

TARZAN`S QUEST has a lot going for it, especially when compared to the slack entries preceding and followng it. The two storylines move along fairly briskly and connect naturally. There is a great sinister menace in the Kavuru cult, Muviro and the Waziri are as bold and noble as you could ask. Even Nkima, whose antics can get tiresome quickly, has some nice episodes. It`s interesting to see Burroughs mention several times how uncomfortable the jungle is at best, with the insects and mud and steamy heat alternating with chilling thunderstorms. Even Tarzan, who has grown up here and who loves the place, isn`t comfortable in the jungle, he`s just hardened to it. Mostly, it`s great to see Jane onstage again, and although after this she again drops out of sight, we can assume she`s alive, healthy and still married to her bronzed giant of the forest.

by R.E. Prindle
Part of the Series:
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

John Clayton, Lord Greystoke

Blue Book Pulp Magazine Covers
Blue Book: October 1935 - Tarzan and the Immortal Men 1/6 - Herbert Morton Stoops coverBlue Book: November 1935 - Tarzan and the Immortal Men 2/6Blue Book: December 1935 - Tarzan and the Immortal Men 3/6
Blue Book: January 1936 - Tarzan and the Immortal Men 4/6Blue Book: February 1936 - Tarzan and the Immortal Men 5/6Blue Book: March 1936 - Tarzan and the Immortal Men 6/6 - Herbert Morton Stoops cover

J. Allen St. John Interiors Gallery

The man fired again; and this time a Kavuru fell.

She drove an arrow straight at the breast of Sheeta.

Tarzan raised her to his shoulder and carried her silently along the jungle trail.

Tarzan lowered him, head foremost, toward the ground.

He sat alone upon the dais except for two leopards.

This time a Kavaru fell - frontispieceHe bore Jane away ~ page 236Here indeed was a king ~ page 280Tarzan lowered the black towards the ground.

Daily Strips
T1-T162 (14 Dec. 1936-19 June 1937):  (162 days)
William Juhre/Don Garden ~ Introduction

Series starts at ERBzine 4032

US Paperback Covers
Richard Powers art: Ballantine 1964Richard Powers art: Ballantine 1975Boris Vallejo art: Ballantine 1980Boris Vallejo art: Ballantine 1993

UK Paperback Covers
Goulden UK edition 1949Edward Mortelmans art: Four Square 1960Edward Mortelmans: Four Square 1964Four Square UK edition 1967

From the Laurence Dunn Collection
UK Green Dragon Editon (Edward Mortlemans Cover Art)

ERB, Inc. 1st. Ed DJ Front by J. Allen St. John
Edward Mortelmans art: Four Square 1960
Richard Powers Ballantine Cover
Boris Ballantine Cover Art

click for larger images
Gold Key Comics Adaptation:
ERBzine 2588  and  ERBzine 2589

1954 German Edition of Tarzan's Quest retitled
"Tarzan in the World of Wonders."

Click for full-size preview collages

Web Refs
ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Online Encyclopedia
Hillman ERB Cosmos
Patrick Ewing's First Edition Determinors
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute
ERBList Summary Project by Duane Adams
J. Allen St. John Bio, Gallery & Links
Edgar Rice Burroughs: LifeLine Biography
Bob Zeuschner's ERB Bibliography
J.G. Huckenpohler's ERB Checklist
Burroughs Bibliophiles Bulletin
G. T. McWhorter's Burroughs Bulletin Index
Illustrated Bibliography of ERB Pulp Magazines
Phil Normand's Recoverings
ERBzin-e Weekly Online Fanzine
ERB Emporium: Collectibles ~ Comics ~ BLBs ~ Pulps ~ Cards
ERBVILLE: ERB Public Domain Stories in PDF
Clark A. Brady's Burroughs Cyclopedia
Heins' Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Bradford M. Day's Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Bibliography
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