Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Reviews: Tarzan of the Apes Series (Books 5-14)

Tarzan of the Apes Series (Books 5-14) by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Recommended For: Ages 12 to Adult (Reading level and violence content)

Rating: PG-13 (for violence)

Come immerse yourself in this epic omnibus of stories about the one and only Tarzan of the Apes. Son of an English lord, he was raised by the savage apes that killed his father. Although he became well-known and respected in civilization, he never was comfortable there, always most at home in the savage jungle in which he was raised. Swinging through the treetops, bane of lions, tamer of elephants, terror of cannibals, finder of lost cities, and husband of American woman Jane Clayton (née Porter), this knight of the forest, never trained in chivalry, was known to the outside world as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke--but to himself and the inhabitants of the jungle in which he grew up, he would forever be Tarzan of the Apes.

After watching Disney's Tarzan for the first time almost seven months ago, I was sparked with the desire to read the book. To my delight, I found the first book as an audio book on Spotify, so I wound up listening to it and loving it. I even stayed up late to finish listening to it. I didn't have any intention of reading any of the sequels, but when I got to the end of the first book and found that Tarzan had renounced all claims to his title and Jane Porter was engaged to someone else, I just had to listen to the next one as well. After that, I was sucked in. I got all of the books I could for free on Kindle off Amazon, and got the rest off of Project Gutenberg Australia (to which I am forever grateful for having the text of all the books online for free). Just recently, to recover after beta-reading Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight, I finished Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar and followed that up by reading more.

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar

This was the necessary amnesia episode of any series. It wasn't as good as the first three, mainly because Tarzan had amnesia and Jane was in trouble and Tarzan didn't know to go to her. Gah! It was infuriating. But it all worked out in the end, and Tarzan got back his memory. This also had annoying La, who loves Tarzan but is not loved back. She tries to marry him so many times and alternately saves his life and tries to kill himself again and again. even without his memory, though, Tarzan refused her. I enjoyed this one, even though it wasn't as good.

Jungle Tales of Tarzan

This was a collection of short stories about Tarzan growing up in the tribe of Kerchak. I enjoyed them a lot, especially The God of Tarzan, where Tarzan was trying to figure out what exactly was meant by the word "God" which he encountered in his father's books. He came to a correct understanding of God as the Creator by the end. (What is kind of awkward about basically the entire series is that Edgar Rice Burroughs seems to have believed in both Christianity and macro-evolution at the same time, which is strange and very contradictory, but oh well.)

Tarzan the Untamed

This one was really good and really horrible at the same time. Tarzan thought Jane was dead! It was awful. The book itself was really good, better than Son of Tarzan and Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. It was set about the time World War I started, and touched some on the part of the war that took place in Africa. Tarzan developed a hatred for all Germans, which was kind of awkward, since I am mostly German, but this hatred calmed down when he found out at the end of the book that Jane hadn't really been killed by German soldiers.

Tarzan the Terrible
Jane is back! Also this book was heavier on evolution than some of the others, but I just ignored those parts. I loved how Korak showed up in this one, just in time to save his father Tarzan from being sacrificed to a false god. This one was good.

Tarzan and the Golden Lion
Shame on Jane and Korak for not believing Tarzan could raise a lion cub to be tame! I have no idea where Meriem, Korak's wife, was, maybe in London. Tarzan intends to go to Opar again and, as before, gets in trouble. One of his former servants is also trying to get gold from Opar, with a man who looks exactly like Tarzan (and causes Jane some temporary heartbreak because she thinks Tarzan abandons her. Grrrr). Tarzan falls into the hands of Oparians when he is drugged and falls unconscious (darn his addiction to coffee). Thank goodness by this time La had married someone else, so while she was around for most of the book, he wasn't a nuisance. Again, some evolutionary material, but it's pretty easy to ignore. Tarzan escapes from so many almost-death scenarios, no wonder there's a later book called Tarzan the Invincible. Jane is thought dead for a while, but not half as long as before, and is safe in the arms of Tarzan by the end of the book. Also, there's a couple uses of the b-word, but in a completely appropriate breeding sense. Just a warning.

Tarzan and the Ant-Men
Tarzan's a grandpa! John Clayton IV is really cute, although he only gets a few paragraphs and is referred to only as "Dackie." Also, why in the world did Korak let Tarzan up alone in an airplane? Of course he was going to get stranded in a part of the jungle hitherto unexplored because it is surrounded by an impassable thorn forest. Tarzan's double is in this one, too, and is under the delusion that he actually is Tarzan, but he isn't quite as annoying as before, although they even perform surgery on him under the delusion that he's Tarzan and has lost his memory again. Thankfully, the misunderstanding is cleared up at the end, and Tarzan gets his diamonds back, which is a plus. I really loved this one. Tarzan was enslaved! There were a couple scenes that kind of even reminded me of Half-Blood. And Tarzan was only eighteen inches tall! It was amazing. Quite amazing.

The Tarzan Twins
This one was a lot shorter and had a lot less Tarzan, but was still good. I finished in in an hour or less.

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion
Oh, the naivete of these boys. More Oparians, but no La. I love how chivalrous the boys are. And how Jad-bal-ja saved the day. Three cheers for the Golden Lion!

Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
This one returned to the normal length of the books. Tarzan in a suit of armor, wow. That is really hard to visualize. It was quite entertaining, though, just the thought of it. Also, Tarzan isn't as proficient with the sword as he is with other weapons. Who would have thought? Edgar Rice Burroughs fell into sort of a pattern with his secondary character who falls in love with girl from a lost civilization, but I really didn't mind. It was fun seeing the medieval era. Also, nobody messes with Tarzan when they're on his African estates. It's just not done.

Tarzan and the Lost Empire
This one was hands down my favorite. On the surface, it was a lot like the others, lost civilization, young man falls in love with girl from lost civilization, Tarzan finds lost civilization as well...but in my opinion it was better than the others because the lost civilization was an offshoot of Ancient Rome! Ancient Rome in her emperor and gladiator days. I just love reading about that culture, don't ask me why. I was delighted by this book. And Tarzan was a gladiator! Oh my word, wow. I loved how he dealt with one conundrum. Problem: Tarzan could only be declared victor of a duel to the death with another man if he was the only one alive in the arena or if he was alone (one of the duelists could back out of the duel by going back down the tunnel, thereby forfeiting the duel). Solution: Once Tarzan defeated his opponent (of course), he just tossed him out of the arena. He didn't have to kill a defeated opponent and was abiding by the rules. Pure genius. Amazing book.

The Tarzan series is definitely worth reading, not just the first two, but the continuing books as well. While they are a tad racist, it's nothing you wouldn't expect from an evolutionary believer from those times. They are good books and much better, I would guess, than any of the movies with Tarzan in it. Definitely recommended, though for an older age because of the evolution and the violence.

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