Book Report: Tanar of Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1929, ?)

Book coverI was looking for something to read, so I picked up this Tarzan book that has been floating around the outer ranks on the to-read shelves in my office for a while now. I mean after all, I just read a couple of Tarzan books, didn’t I? Well, no–I read Tarzan of the Apes and The Return of Tarzan in 2009. They would have been some of the last books I read in Old Trees before we moved down to southwest Missouri. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but look at the comments by Deb, a frequent commenter in those days when the blog was only six years old. In my defense, I did “just” read some of the John Carter books in late 2017, so it was more “just” than eleven years ago.

And closer review of the cover indicates that this is not a Tarzan book at all; it’s the third book in the hollow Earth series set in Pellucidar with the main character of Tanar (completely different from Tarzan who appears in the fourth book in the series, Tarzan in Pellucidar). I guess the first two books deal with men from the outer world who find themselves in the hollow world which contains dinosaurs, primitive men, and intelligent lizard men who rule them using ape-men as muscle. So I gather from research reading the Wikipedia article.

This book starts en media res: Seafaring raiders known as Korsars attack the Empire of Pellucidar, set up by the outer earth men in the first two books, and take prisoners, including Tanar; the emperor himself sets out in a small boat to rescue Tanar. Tanar meets a haughty but attractive young woman aboard the pirates’ ship; she is the assumed daughter of the pirate leader by a woman captured on a small island of loving people. After a storm, which is almost unheard of on the seas of the hollow world, Tanar and the woman are shipwrecked on what turns out to be her ancestors’ island. There, they are met with suspicion but eventually are adopted by Stellara, the woman’s, father. Subplots ensue, a pirate who wanted Stellara for himself returns, Tanar ends up thought dead, but he’s really in caves of the Morlocks Coripies, underground dwellers. He escapes with the resident of a nearby island of hate, where the residents hate an berate their family members–this fellow kidnaps Stellara, and Tanar goes to the rescue. He gets captured by the Korsars a couple more times, subplots ensue, and he links up with the Emperor and they eventually back to their homeland.

The book also has a frame story where Edgar Rice Burroughs is talking to a friend who is into the new fangled radio, but who discovers a wave that travels through the Earth–and it’s through a broadcast on this wave that this story is transmitted to the outside world. So the guy with the radio plans to go to Pellucidar to rescue the men from the outer world who are trapped there. Which leads, according to Wikipedia, to the Tarzan book. This book came fourteen years after the preceding one in the series; they came a little faster after that, but the series was never as popular as Tarzan or John Carter series and the length of the series reflects that. Burroughs wrote a lot, but he wrote a lot more of what was popular.

I don’t think I have a lot more Burroughs floating around, but do you know what I pass over from time to time? One or more of the remaining Gor books I have. So maybe I will pick up one of them sooner rather than later. If only to address this comment I made when I read Captive of Gor in 2014:

So I was disappointed with this book, and I’ve got at least three remaining on my shelves. I might pick up another one soon–before 2021, I would hope.

With a little dilligence, I can make that goal!

6 thoughts on “Book Report: Tanar of Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1929, ?)

  1. I don’t recall “Tanar” being my fave of the Pellucidar books, which themselves weren’t my favorite of Burroughs’ series. I don’t really remember why, except that the “otherness” of Pellucidar never really gelled for me the way Barsoom did, even with the eternal daytime thing.

    It’s been so long since I read Gor that I’ve forgotten, but it seems like “Captive” is about where I quit. I know it was before book 10 or so. I don’t know if Lange got a new editor or decided to take off the gloves about his philosophy or what, but (as we’ve discussed before) I think his writing nose-dived as the expressed ickiness of Gor increased, and somewhere in there was the book that made me say goodbye.

    I do remember the early detail that he made the gravity of Gor less than Earth’s in order to make the giant birds more feasible, because I recall thinking about it when I read whatever Anne McCaffrey book retro-fitted her impossible dragons with telekinesis and said that was the way they’d flown all along but people had forgotten it.

  2. I have picked up the next entry in the series, Hunters of Gor, as you might have expected based in this post, and I have to say you anticipated well. I am about forty pages in, and we’re at about 50% discussion of slavery on Gor, 50% story.

    I think the story includes the woman slave from Captive of Gor, but after seven years, I am not 100% sure, and I am too lazy to go looking through my stacks to review the last bit of that book.

    It looks as though I have only up to the ninth book in the series, as it was right next to Hunters of Gor. Time will tell whether I decide to power through these two books to complete my readings on the series while I am thinking about it. And then maybe jump on Time Slave if I can find it. Strangely enough, for all of the series’ waning popularity on the Internet, the individual books do not have Wikipedia entries, but Time Slave does.

    A fun bet would be whether I complete my holdings in this series or my holdings in the Executioner series first. Probably the latter unless I push through as I mentioned. Long odds bets would be the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey and Maturin books (I have only read Master and Commander or the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell (I read Sharpe’s Tiger and Sharpe’s Triumph also in 2009).

  3. I’m an Aubrey-Maturin fanboy so my opinion may be taken for granted ;-)

    I’ve read most of Cornwell’s Sharpe series — the best books are the original dozen or so he wrote between 1981 and 1990. After that they seem to have more of an eye on the number of zeroes in the “pay to the order of” part of the check than anything else. But I read that first group before I latched onto the continuations — I didn’t start back in ’81 when the first volumes came out, but I think I found them before “Tiger” was published. Of the later ones, I think I liked “Trafalgar” best.

  4. I go through phases with the historical fiction where I will read a couple in short order. Or maybe I mean “phase” as it might have been the same phase when I read the Sharpe and the Aubrey/Maturin books very close together. I have read some of Cornwell’s other books. Well, I read Stonehenge, and that was also in 2009. So maybe it was just a singular phase.

    Which is why these books are the longshot bet. I have nine in each series. On the other hand, I know exactly where both series are (each series grouped together, and at one time in series order) as I was looking for something and saw them. I’m not even sure what I was looking for–perhaps the Gor books–but I also found my copy of the Aeneid which I might pick up soon.

    Of course, the real longshot series bets are The Story of Civilization by the Durants and The History of Philosophy by Copleston, both of which I’ve gotten some pages into the first volume before putting it aside for genre fiction.

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