On one hand this may have been my favorite of the Tarzan books so far, but on the other hand it was a little more far-fetched then even the previous novels.
I bought this huge collection of 25 Tarzan novels, I think for only $0.99 a few years ago.
- Well, Tarzan got in trouble, rushes through the jungle, kills, hunts, eats raw meat etc. Almost gets killed a couple times. - Not much weirder than Jungle Book, Id say. Pretty tough when need to be, at other times fragile when the plot requires it.
The main thing is, Tarzan has A PET LEOPARD, and loyal band of giant apes in this one, who chew up his enemies through the course of many adventures.
I tire of Rokoff and Paulvichs nonsensical wickedness, without rhyme or reason, just bad intent for the sake of the novels need for a villain. This novel is perhaps why the Tarzan series is seen as junk literature and rarely seriously analyzed for literary value, despite Burroughs clear talents as an author.
To celebrate "Tarzan of the Apes"'s centennial this month--Edgar Rice Burroughs' first Tarzan novel was released in the October 1912 issue of "All-Story Magazine"--I have been compulsively reading the first novels in what eventually became a series of some two dozen books. On that page, Tarzan--now the father, with his bride Jane Portman, of an infant son, Jack--learns that his archenemy from book #2, Nikolas Rokoff, has just busted out from a French jail. Ere long, Tarzan explores his desert island, becomes friendly with an ape tribe headed by the intelligent anthropoid Akut, tames a vicious panther named Sheeta (Tarzan's rescue of Sheeta and subsequent bonding with the jungle cat may recall to some readers the Biblical story of Daniel and the lion), and finds his very own Friday: Mugambi, chief of the Wagambi of Ugambi (!), a black native who, ultimately, also bonds with the Ape Man. And so, with this motley crew of man and beasts, Tarzan attempts to make it to the mainland and rescue his son and wife.... Par for the course, Burroughs makes a few flubs here and there (such as when he refers to Rokoff's lieutenant, Alexis Paulvitch, as "Alexander," and when he writes that Tarzan had, in book #1, given the ape Kerchak a chance to escape, rather than Terkoz), but most readers will be too caught up in the fast-moving sweep of events to care, or even notice. For example, in "Beasts," Paulvitch manages to escape Tarzan's clutches and flee into the jungle.
Burroughs is always interested in filling in the empty space between human and animal with half-animalistic Africans, devolved feral humans like Tarzan, and talking semi-intelligent anthropoid apes, but also, to his credit, with humansespecially Belgians and, in this book, Russianswho sink to a sub-civilized level with very little provocation.
Seems as if Tarzan has already established his African estate, and he and Jane divide their time between Africa and London. In the process of trying to stop Rokoff, Tarzan gets himself kidnapped, and Jane, refusing to let Tarzan handle it by himself, manages to get herself kidnapped, too. Rokoff first maroons Tarzan on an island off the African coast (appropriately named "Jungle Island"), before heading to the continent proper. There, Tarzan beats up and or kills a bunch of Africans and Apes, and in the process manages to obtain their loyalty. So the remaining non-dead African dude, the tribe of apes, and the kitty all escape the island (Tarzan teaches the apes to paddle a canoe. Also, the Swedish Chef helps Jane escape into the wild, and Rokoff heads off in pursuit of them. The only flaw is really the ending where, in the last chapter, Burroughs introduces a whole new set of antagonists with complex motivations for Tarzan to beat up in order to achieve escape from Jungle Island again.
However, in his Tarzan persona, he is more likely to be speaking the primitive language of apes, or attempting to communicate with a tribe of natives whose dialect differs to that he knows from the region of Africa he was raised in, so he often does come across as fairly simplistic, if not quite at the Me Tarzan You Jane level. The plot of this book begins with the escape of Rokoff, Tarzans long-standing enemy, from prison, and his threatening revenge against Tarzan through Jane and his infant son. Jane and Tarzan are captured and taken to Africa, Tarzan escapes and begins recruiting apes, panthers, and natives to help him recover his wife and child.