Kirt's Reviews > The Return of Tarzan

The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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's review
Jan 17, 2008

liked it

Very good. It sort of finishes up the plotlines that started with the first book, and adds quite a few of its own, so the two books make a good, self-contained story, considering everything wraps up in the end. The only complaint is it wraps up a little too quickly and conveniently at the end, but this is forgivable because at that point the book has reached its emotional climax (between Jane and Tarzan) and the rest is really just loose ends. Hell, if a Japanese guy had wrote it we probably wouldn't have even gotten the chapter that wraps up loose ends. ;-D

In addition to "old business" from the first book, there is plenty of new and interesting stuff. Tarzan gets caught up in a lot of intrigue that eventually ends up with him being employed as a spy by the French government, and while engaging in that occupation he ends up thrown overboard a ship by the villain of the piece, which ends up washed up on the shores of Africa next to his beloved jungle. Once there, there's a matter of some gold and a lost city...

It sounds silly writing it like that, and some of it must be forgiven as this is an adventure yarn, but there is actually a lot of foreshadowing and careful use of coincidence (extreme in some cases, but never as bad as Dickens) to set things up, and everything logically flows from already-established points. A big politically-incorrect theme of both books is that it's a man's job to nobly protect women. This is what logically leads to a lot of what would otherwise seem crazy -- Tarzan's desire to protect women from harm, even strangers and women he isn't in love with, combined with his sense of fair play is what causes him to get embroiled in the things he does. This dovetails nicely with another already-established personality trait, his love of physical danger from his time in the jungle, combined with the evolution of the character: while he hates the softness of civilization, Tarzan finds that he can no longer go without the companionship of his fellow man. He wants the best of both worlds, and this leads him in all sorts of interesting directions. So while it seems silly when I write it, skillful storytelling makes it make sense when it happens. Even the lost city is not without a decent amount of foreshadowing.

Also, by becoming embroiled in what he does, an excellent villain is introduced, a man who is in every way Tarzan's antithesis. Where Tarzan combines all the best attributes of a "civilized" and "savage" man, the Russian spy Rokoff combines all the worst elements of civilization and savagery. Again, not politically correct, but compelling. (Also, given the time period, both books are surprisingly non-racist. One need only look at the sympathetic treatment of the African tribe Tarzan joins in this book to understand that, tho Tarzan doesn't end up "over" them as their chief.)

All in all, if one is curious about the "original" Tarzan but doesn't want to read the whole series, I think you can't go wrong reading the first couple of books in the series.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Matt (new)

Matt Edgar Rice Burroughs father, George Tyler Burroughs, was a Major in the Union army who volunteered to fight almost as soon as the war begun. George Tyler Burroughs was, I'm fairly sure from my reading, raised in an solidly Republican abolutionist family, and seems to have imparted these virtues to his son to a large degree. While EGB is certainly a politically incorrect 'culturist' by today's standards, he's not at all a racist. He's perfectly willing to find humanity, nobility, and intelligence in his characters, regardless of thier skin color (or shape, or species, for that matter).

Kirt Right. I'm just speaking to what one might expect from the time period of the writing, rather than Burroughs in particular.

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