Saturday, February 09, 2013

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion

   Despite what some folks would have you believe, the Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs are not kids books. They were written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s-1930s and they were intended for adult audiences.  However ERB did write two books that were intended for a younger audience, The Tarzan Twins and a sequel, the somewhat clumsily titled Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-bal-ja the Golden Lion. This second one was actually written as a Bigger Little Book, like a Big Little Book but bigger. That means that it was an illustrated book with text on the left hand pages and drawings on the right hand pages.
   A couple of years ago I read the first of the Tarzan Twins books and didn't really enjoy it. It seemed that Burroughs, in attempting to write 'down' for kids, lost most of what made his books exciting. The Tarzan Twins was a plodding adventure involving its two young protagonists with a tribe of cannibals. It did, however, introduce Dick and Doc, the titular twins who are not, in fact, actual twins. They aren't even brothers, but rather first cousins. However the boy's mothers were identical twins and since the boys are the same age and they both resemble their mothers, they look like twins. Neat, eh?
   I had read a comic book adaptation of the second book many years ago but only got around to reading the actual prose story tonight, and it is a much much better book than the first one. In this one Burroughs actually makes use of his own continuity, involving Dick and Doc with a group of beast-men from Opar and with the young German girl the beast-men have kidnapped, planning to make her their new high priestess. The boys, having been separated from Tarzan and Jad-bal-ja by a violent storm, must try to rescue the girl on their own. It's a rousing little jungle adventure with plenty of the thrills and chills ERB packed into his novels for grownups. It also ties into later Tarzan novels as the girl, Gretchen Von Harben, is the younger sister of Erich Von Harben, who will show up as a secondary hero in the Tarzan book Tarzan and the Lost Empire and whose discovery of the metal "Harbenite" will play an important role in the novel Tarzan at the Earth's Core.
   Anyway, I had a lot of fun with this small book. It's available on-Line at Project Gutenberg Australia if you'd care to give it a try.

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