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Volume 0981


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Del Rey PB - 1999 - Cover art by Heather Kern
Cover text: 
Tarzan's beloved mate, Jane, has been kidnapped, and the furious ape-man will let nothing stand in the way of rescuing her - not even a sinister safari whose target is Tarzan himself. With fierce Masai trackers leading the chase, a trio of white hunters is hell-bent on capturing the Jungle Lord. But as his pursuers close in on their prey with uncanny accuracy, Tarzan races toward even greater danger ahead. For the trail leads to a bizarre, long-forgotten land boasting a multitude of strange and terrifying mysteries: the City Built by God, the Hideous Hunter, and, most shocking of all, the Crystal Tree of Time - whose seductive powers could ultimately spell Tarzan's doom ....
Read a Del Rey Excerpt Here
From June 1999, this is the book that Philip Jose Farmer had been thinking about writing all his life. It`s the first all-new Tarzan novel authorized by the Burroughs estate since Fritz Leiber`s TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD in 1966,and it seems likely that permission was given to go ahead with this book as part of the massive tie-ins with Disney`s animated feature. It`s pretty good, with almost non-stop action and all the classic Burroughs ingredients thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, it never seems to build up much momentum or sense of the story getting anywhere, and it falls apart badly toward the end. And it really is a bit too long to sustain any feeling of urgency.  Some of the repeated flood scenes could have been trimmed to good result.

The book takes place in between TARZAN THE UNTAMED and TARZAN THE TERRIBLE  Incidentally, two of  my favorite books in the series), where Tarzan is searching for his wife Jane, whom he thought had been killed but who was actually a prisoner of those vile Huns. In TARZAN THE UNTAMED, Burroughs threw in a very odd, tantalizing little episode where the Apeman finds an ancient skeleton in the desert, clad in scraps of armor, with a map to a lost city in a metal cylinder. For some reason, the author never returned to this hint or explained it further. You can tell this little mystery was bugging Farmer for years ad I`m glad he finally got to tell the story himself.

Even though he keeps trying to get back to his search for Jane, Tarzan repeatedly becomes sidetracked and delayed in this book. It`s not bad enough he`s the quarry of a safari organized to track him down and bring him as a prisoner to a sinister American millionaire (the white hunters and their native crew are all plotting to kill each other when feasible, in the best Burroughs tradition). The expedition hunting the Apeman has a strange nonhuman tracker, whose sense of smell and physical abilities match those of Tarzan himself. This is Rahb, the black furred bearman, last male of his kind, forced to pursue Tarzan because his own pregnant mate is being held hostage to coerce him. Rahb never quite comes to life for me. I couldn`t visualize him or picture a bearlike creature hurtling through the trees. Maybe if Rahb had been a different variety of Mangani, it might have been more convincing.

Tarzan suffers hugely in this story, surviving injuries that would put most normal men on life support. He falls hundreds of feet through tree branches (twice), survives earthquakes and floods, comes up against enemies ranging from wild beasts to big game hunters to several different vicious native tribes, and he always shakes himself and gets back up again. The Apeman deserves to be ranked with the greatest escape artists in heroic fiction, based on the deadly traps he gets out off in this book alone. (In a deep pit, after barely avoiding landing on a sharpened stake himself, Tarzan looks up and sees a leopard about to pounce. Never at a loss, our hero jumps up and yanks the big cat down onto the stake. This is one of his easiest challenges... some of the others are so seemingly hopeless that I literally could not imagine what the Apeman was going to try.)

Most of the story details running and being captured and fighting and trying to survive, all vey appropriate for the character. The glimpses of the millionaire waiting impatiently for Tarzan to be brought back to him are intriguing. But once our hero and his two companions enter the City Made By God, and get involved with a high priestess allegedly descended from extraterrestrials, not to mention the crystal tree that connects all Time and Space, the narrative slows and gets all tangled up in its profound thoughts. Even the huge starspawn Ghost Frog (who yanks an elephant`s trunk off, how rude) can`t quite get things rolling again.

And enough already with this immortality stuff driving every single story, Phil. At this point, Tarzan is only thirty years old, there`s no reason for him or anyone else to think he`s immortal and to decide to get the secret from him! This is really stretching a recurring theme, and it hurts the book. If it took place today, with Tarzan mysteriously looking young while being over a hundred, that would make sense. But not in 1918. There were plenty of other reasons for villains to be after the Apeman... the location of Opar being the most ovious.

If you were a Tarzan fan who was put off by Lord Grandrith in LORD OF THE TREES or even (*eek*) A FEAST UNKNOWN, rest assured that here Farmer treats the genuine hero respectfully and vividly. He has obviously spent a great deal of time brooding over the character. There is nothing here which directly contradicts anything in Burroughs` canon, and Farmer expands on it in thought provoking ways. He reflects that because of his unique upbringing in not really a human or an ape, but something unique. (`Some, less inclined to hyperbole, said that he was a unique and remarkable phenomenon. Of all the many millions of various forms that life had produced during millions of years, it had produced only one Tarzan....He was a species by himself.` I love that insight.)

Compiled by Ed Stephan

TARZAN: John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, Tarzan of the Apes
Jane: Tarzan's kidnapped mate, Lady Greystoke
Lieutenant Erich Obergatz: German kidnapper of Jane
Jelke Helmson: animal trapper, leader of th East African safari
Tambi: leader of the safari's natives, a Wamabo
Wamabo tribesmen: safari porters
Serba tribesmen: safari askari (soldiers)
Ndesi tribesmen: safari trackers
Tenga: askari questioned by Tarzan
Robert Pindell: white American, a professional hunter in Helmson's safari
Homeshon: a white member of Helmson's safari
Aboma: a slain Ndesi tracker
Mitchell: white English hunter in Helmson's safari
Ben-go-utor: Tarzan's name for a half-man, half-bear
James D. Stonecraft: wealthiest man in the world from Manhattan
Bevan: secretary to Stonecraft
John Smith: American in Nairobi, Stonecraft's agent
Fitzpagel: Irishman, tracks then joins Helmson's safari
Umbrank & Silts: whites on safari with Fitspagel and a hundred askari
Rakali: Helmson's gun bearer
Mgonda: a tracker for Helmson
Swifi: Fitzpagel's head askari
Rahb: a Shong, the real name of the Ben-go-utor
Hbarki: Rahb's mate
Kurigi: a Shelaba (tiny, green, non-human sub-pygmies)
Krangee: tribesmen who live near the "Ghost Frog"
Dr. Springer: Stonecraft's doctor
Saweetoo: tribe which lives in the "City Made by God"
Hitcham: Bevan's stockbroker
Eshawi: king of the Saweetoo
Oyabato: chief of the Ataya (superior to the Saweetoo)
Rafmana: Toucher of Time, goddess-ruler of the Ataya
Kala: Tarzan's foster mother, a great ape
Arinu & Watanu: brother-sister Twins (from beyond the stars)
Tsapa & Ekweni: brother-sister Twins (from beyond the stars)
Captain Fritz Scheider: mistakenly killed by Tarzan to avenge Waziri deaths
Major Bolko Scheider: killed by Tarzan to avenge (correctly) Waziri deaths
Colonel Sigurd Schneider: true identity of the Irishman Fitspagel
General Bolko Schneider: (in Berlin) father of the Schneider brothers
German edition: Heyne 2000 - Cover art by Michael WhelanQuartet UK1975 1st - Patrick Woodroffe artistAce Double Gray Morrow - 1st 1970


1st Aspen Press, November 1974Dell, Sept. 1976 - Gadino
From 1974, this is one of Philip Jose Farmer's better efforts relating his interpretation of classic pulp characters. At only 127 pages long, it moves briskly enough, with none of the lengthy, standstill digressions that kept ESCAPE FROM LOKI from having any momentum. Farmer has toned down the sexual and scatological details quite a bit, and although he presents his own theories on the vintage heroes, he doesn't bog the story down with long exposition. In fact, this book is breezy, rather lighthearted and more fun than most of his pulp-related stories.

The book was first published in 1974, with a Dell paperback two years later. Although the name 'Tarzan' is carefully never used, the identity of the "peerless peer'" of the title, Greystoke, Lord of the Jungle, is overwhelmingly evident. It's widely believed that the Burroughs estate pounced on this unauthorized use of its prize character and demanded that the book be withdrawn from circulation and kept out of print. I haven't seen any actual documented evidence of this, but it is true that Farmer re-wrote the story into "The Three Madmen" (reprinted in THE GRAND ADVENTURE), substituting an adult Mowgli for Tarzan. In many ways, the revised story is an improvement.

 The main stars are an elderly Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H Watson, still being called to serve their country in the dark days of 1916, sent to track down the escaped German spy Von Bork (from the canonical Holmes story, "His Last Bow." Farmer gets the pair from Baker Street pretty much in character, perhaps a bit more snappish and sarcastic, as enduring the rigors of trans-Atlantic adventure at their age is no treat. Holmes and Watson encounter half a dozen of the great heroes of adventure fiction in their struggles across east Africa, and this is where the real delights of this story lie.

Some of the characters make only a brief cameo of a spoken sentence or a short paragraph-- Dr Gideon Fell and a very young Sir Henry Merrivale, for example. Mycroft Holmes is on stage long enough to send Holmes and Watson on their mission.

On their journey to Africa, they are pilotted by two very strange Americans. One is a handsome young gray-eyed fellow named Wentworth, who is clearly G-8. Fighting off a German attack in midflight, Wentworth suffers a violently hallucinatory attack, thinking he is fighting giant cockroaches crawling all over the plane, and after landing, he's wrestled into a straightjacket and carried off raving. Now, certainly fans of G-8, an established pulp hero with long and healthy sales of his own title, may not warm up to this presentation. It's like saying James Bond only daydreamed he got all those beautiful women and his enemies were ordinary thugs. Feh. On the other hand, G-8's later adventures did get wildly over the top, featuring skeleton aviators, flying gorillas, leopard-headed men and much worse. So you can see Farmer's point.

Holmes and Watson also have to deal with 'Kentov', late of the Czar's espionage service. Wearing "a long black opera cloak" and "a big black slouch hat", Kentov has a strange way of abruptly appearing and disappearing without seeming to use the door. Watson notes his own mind gets foggy when the man appears and he always jumps violently as the effect clears. Even Holmes shouts, "Confound it, man! Couldn't you behave like a civilised being for once and knock before entering?"

Although not as hysterical as Wentworth, the Shadow gets into similar distress by landing their plane on a zeppelin and invading it. In the furious fighting which follows, we last see the man in black falling through the fabric of the airship, a gun blasting away in each fist, laughing maniacally. Watson reflects that "since he was wearing a parachute, he may have survived."

We also explore the hidden land and fierce warriors of the Zu-Vendis, from an Allan Quatermain novel by H Rider Haggard. But most of THE PEERLESS PEAR is taken up with Holmes and Watson trying to make terms with Tarzan himself. Farmer presents the Apeman quite faithfully to Burrough's original  interpretation, with the exception of a complicated fraud that Tarzan pulled when he assumed the  Greystoke titles. Holmes deduces this and in effect blackmails Tarzan into a payment of sixty thousand pounds to keep silent. That takes nerve! The Great Detective sweats as the Apeman fingers his long knife thoughtfully, but the deal is struck.

There is a brief moment where Farmer shows such real affection and respect for these characters that it makes up for some of his transgressions. Watson has fallen for a young blonde held by the Zu-Vendis and he pleads for Tarzan to help rescue her. The doctor says he will waive his half of Holmes' fee (that is, bribe). Greystoke laughs and replies, "I couldn't refuse a man who loves love more than he loves money. And you can keep the fee."

Unfortunately, the story collapses into inplausible farce at the end. Threatened by deadly bees and Zu-Vendi warriors, the elderly Holmes strips naked and paints himself with stripes, then cavorts in an approximation of the bee's communication dance, using his lense to imitate their signals....oh, I can't go on. It's dreadful. And the final pun in the closing paragraph is simply atrocious. Still, for most of the story, this is enjoyable and well worth seeking out.


Berkley 1984  PB - Michael  KalutaBerkley 1984 - Cloth First - No DJ
From 1984, this is the revised version of Philip Jose Farmer's 1974 book THE ADVENTURE OF THE PEERLESS PEER, where Holmes and Watson team up with Tarzan during World War I. The Burroughs estate was  not flattered by the unauthorized use of the Apeman, and the book was withdrawn from circulation.  THE THREE MADMEN was included in Farmer's anthology THE GRAND ADVENTURE, possibly revised to  salvage a story he liked and didn't want to see vanish into trademark limbo. It was also printed in THE  MISADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (Citadel Press, 1989). a collection of exceedingly apocryphal  Baker Street parodies and pastiches (most of which are pretty lame). "The Three Madmen" of the title, by the way, would be G-8, the Shadow and Mowgli.

THE THREE MADMEN has not been extensively polished or revised-- except for substituting Mowgli for Tarzan, and the pointless introduction of a screeching countess turned actress, it is the same book. Still, Farmer's treatment of Mowgli deserves some consideration.

Because of the 1967 Disney animated version of THE JUNGLE BOOK, along with its sequels and immense merchandising, most people probably think of Mowgli as a small boy. However only part of the original stories were about his childhood. The 1994 movie starring Jason Scott Lee presents the Mowgli we find in this book - a strange, poignant, unpredictable outsider. Even more than Tarzan, he is between two worlds and really belonging to neither. He is also extremely dangerous.

Despite Holmes' insistence that cobras are completely deaf, we do see Mowgli talk one of the snakes out of attacking. He says he explained to the cobra that "she was under no obligation to the Law of the Jungle to attack you." To get the Wolf-man from his own turf in central India and into Africa (to keep the original story intact and avoid a massive rewrite), Farmer explains that Mowgli is a British officer on leave to film a silent movie of his life, MOWGLI'S REVENGE.

What is really odd is that Farmer declares flatly that there was no real Mowgli, that Kipling's book was completely fictional, and that jungle man they are dealing with is an imposter who has gotten lost so deeply into the role that he actually believes he IS Mowgli. However, some small part of his consciousness is still aware of the truth and any doubt cast on his identity enrages him. As in the previous version of this book, Holmes arranges to be hired to investigate Mowgli's past thoroughly-- ostensibly, this is to establish the Wolf-man's claim but they both know it's actually a bribe to Holmes to keep him quiet. (Conan Doyle's Holmes actually was not above cutting a deal like this, if it hurt no one. The canonical Holmes answered to his own sense of right and wrong, not the exact statutes of law.)

Farmer also explains that Mowgli had been adopted by Sir Jametsee Jejeebhoy, and had inherited a fortune, part of which he spent finagling an English baronetcy. It strikes me that we have a character here who would have done very well with a pulp series of his own. An English peer who was an Indian Parsi, raised by wolves in the jungle, speaking with animals and superhuman in strength and agility-- his adventures around the British Empire between the World Wars could have been fascinating. And the added touch that he was in fact a fraud who couldn't bear to be exposed would add an ominous  uncertainty to the whole situation. Somewhere the realm of unwritten books, there are a dozen copies of the 1930s pulp MOWGLI THE WOLF-MAN. 

Read another 
Doc Hermes review 
of a Burroughs novel at:
Amazing: February 1943 - Skeleton Men of Jupitor - J. Allen St. John
Doc Hermes' Reviews of ERB Tarzan Novels are found
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Dr. Hermes Reviews Tarzan-Related Novels by Philip Jose Farmer
A Brief Note on a Review 
By Nkima

These reviews, which include useful plot summaries of the novels, are extremely well-written and informative.  I enjoyed them immensely, and can only hope that this is part one of a series that will include reviews of Time's Last Gift and Tarzan Alive, along with some shorter PJF efforts on Tarzan.  Although Tarzan Alive is not a novel but a fictional biography, it should be included in the subsequent reviews to make them complete.

Few men have studied Tarzan as deeply as PJF.  Holtzmark, Lupoff, and Alan Hanson come to mind as other fine investigators, and perhaps my own  Soul of the Lion may be mentioned , as  the only true Jungian study of the ape-man.  Farmer was the one who inspired me to write about Tarzan and ERB, for his work showed me the possibility of expanding Tarzanic lore in an interesting way.  He is one of the great ERB pastiche writers and will be remembered for these works by Burroughs fans long after his other novels have been forgotten.  The Tarzan mythos is a strong force in Farmer's psyche, in fact, he claims to have met Lord Greystoke in person, and who are we to say this was not true?  He writes as though he had indeed met Tarzan, and this fact alone should be sufficient proof of his claims.

October 26, 2002
David "Nkima" Adams'  "Chattering from the Shoulder" columns are a regular feature in ERBzine. 
The navigation chart to these columns is featured at: ERBzine 0396
Ballantine 1977  - Darrell Sweet artPopular Library, 1972 PB 1st - Emse art

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