As you know, I bought Tarnsman of Gor and this book so that I would have read the first pentagor of the John Norman fantasy series before I lit into the last half of the first 10. Here, I read #2, the Gor book for 1967 (although my copy is a later reprint with cover by Boris Vallejo).
In this, Tarl Cabot returns to Gor after seven years on Earth to find his home city of Ko-ro-ba destroyed and its citizens scattered–including his father and his love Talena. He also finds himself in unheralded armor, meaning he’s an outlaw. He ends up going to Tharna, a city where women rule, and leading an uprising.
The book is the weakest of the first five, clearly a setup for the longer story lines that took place after the first one succeeded. Still, it’s short and it’s still a neat piece of fantasy. I articulated to my wife that good fantasy is very different from suspense/crime/mystery fiction in that when you want to find out what’s coming next, you really don’t have any idea. These books are like that; they contain enough detail into the world that you know Norman isn’t making it up as he goes, but as you go, you’re learning something about the setting and the laws that govern it. You really can have a sense of wonder you don’t get from other kinds of fiction.
So I’m ready for the sixth book in the series one of these days.