Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tarzan and the Magic Men

   Never heard of Tarzan and the Magic Men? Me neither. Well not precisely, anyway. I read all 24 of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels before I was twelve and over the years I've gone back and re-read some of them quite  few times. Others, I haven't looked at since I originally read them. One of those was Tarzan the Magnificent, which I had no memory of at all. I was digging around for something lighter to read between volumes One and Two of I Am Providence and I happened to think of Tarzan so I went into the collection and located the half dozen or so Tarzan books I hadn't read since I was a kid. Something that got past me when I was ten or so was that Tarzan the Magnificent wasn't actually a novel, but two separate novellas that had been published together in one volume.  
   Tarzan and the Magic Men originally appeared (apparently in a somewhat different form) in the pulp magazine Argosy in 1936. The second novella, Tarzan and the Elephant Men, was published in another pulp. Blue Book, in 1938. The first edition of Tarzan the Magnificent came out in 1939.
   Anyway, Tarzan and the Magic Men is that rare item, a Tarzan story with actual magic in it. Most of the witch-doctor types that Tarzan ran into were charlatans, using tricks and superstition to make their followers believe they actually had magic powers. However, in this book there are two men who use strange jewels to practice actual sorcery which includes mind control and other weird powers. Fortunately for everyone, Tarzan proves immune to their power, apparently because his thought processes are more like those of beast than man.
   This is a rousing good yarn with many familiar ERB elements, including lost cities, a romantic subplot, battles with dangerous beasts, and the usual credibility straining coincidences. I was reminded again that the man was a born storyteller. There's even some wry humor and Tarzan himself is in top form.
   Don't know if I'll get to the second novella today or not. Hope it's as much fun as this one was.

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