Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar - Large Print Edition: Volume 5 Paperback – Large Print, 2 Dec 2013
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About the Author
Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) was an American writer best known for creating Tarzan and John Carter. He wrote science fiction, fantasy, adventure, westerns, and others. His work influenced so many people, it would be impossible to name them all, but the list includes James Cameron, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Michael Crichton, Carl Sagan, George Lucas, Jack Vance, and others.
Top customer reviews
"Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar" first appeared in two issues of "All-Story Cavalier Weekly" in 1916. As you read the novel you will pick up on the fact that Burroughs liked the character of La a lot more than he did that of Jane (who he would attempt to kill off in a few books). Of course, this second visit to the land of Opar is not as exciting as the first and the amnesia bit is going to be one that ERB subjects Tarzan to a couple of more times down the road. This is definitely one of the author's pot-boilers and for the pulp fiction era it is pretty solid stuff. Things get a bit predictable, but the tension between Tarzan and La gives the book a bit of bite. You just need to make sure you go through the first four Tarzan books before you read this one, because you need to know about what happened the first time Tarzan visited Opar.
Tarzan is essentialy the embodiement of the Hobbesian idea that we are all savages at heart and are merely civilised by the restraints of the societies within which we live.However, on the level of reading for entertainment without indulging in too much literary analysis Tarzan provides a range of amazing charecters who experience even more amazing situations. Belief can be well and truly suspended in a series of hair raising and at times gruesome advenures in an Africa which never existed except in the fertile imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs
As the fifth book in a wonderfully-successful series, 1918’s ‘Tarzan & The Jewels of Opar’ (henceforth referred to as ‘Opar’) always ran the risk of staleness. Indeed, after a mercurial debut and further trips to the jungle in both ‘The Return of Tarzan’ and ‘The Beasts of Tarzan’, Edgar Rice Burroughs saw the need to base his fourth book on the adventures of Tarzan’s son, Korak. Having return to ‘The Daddy’ in ‘Opar’, there was the obvious question of, “Where do we go now?” The answer is effectively, “Nowhere new, but there will be some great moments along the way.” Thus ‘Opar’ is is very much a nuts-and-bolts novel. Although very readable and far from dull, it lacks genuine inspiration and relies upon a flurry of incident to mask a rather thin plot.
The story begins with real promise when Belgian army absconder and murderer, Alfred Werper ingratiates himself with both Tarzan and Jane. Unbeknown to him, Werper is in the employ of the evil Achmet Zek who plans to have his revenge upon the Lord of the Jungle. Werper joins – or rather follows - Tarzan on a trek to the kingdom of Opar in search of gold and (you’ve guessed it) jewels. [It seems that Tarzan needs the valuables to help ease some financial worries!] Once at Opar, our hero suffers a crack on the noggin and loses his memory. Thus, he reverts back to his old ways, swinging in his birthday suit from trees, seemingly oblivious to the perils that his wife and friends endure at the hands of his enemies. Will our amnesiac see through Werper’s duplicity and succeed in his primitive pursuit of the Belgian’s “shiny pebbles”? Will he regain his lost memory and save his beloved Jane before all manner of animals try to tear her limb-from-limb and all manner of lustful men try to have their wicked way with her?
Admittedly, there are some sparkling elements in Opar. Firstly, Werper is a surprisingly well-rounded character. Although basically self-motivated and unscrupulous, he does undergo and credible (albeit short-lived) moral transformation that moves the plot on nicely. This makes his a far more three-dimensional adversary than the bloodthirsty Achmet Zek and (remarkably similar) Mohammed Beyd. Likewise, amongst the countless set-pieces there are some real gems. Perhaps the most memorable is Jane’s escape from a ravenous lion. Whilst gorging on a mangled gorilla, our hungry feline fails to notice that the ‘dead’ female human is in fact rolling over and adopting the same position repeatedly. His error is realised too late as Jane flees up a tree with Leo snarling at her heels.
Nevertheless, this is merely one of a RELENTLESS series of grim incidents that are almost overwhelming. ‘Opar’ moves at such a pace that it becomes hard to distinguish between the scenes of hunting, killing, eating and slaughter. Poor old Jane seems to spend most of her time trussed up in a tent with various baddies drooling over her. At times ‘Opar’ seems to resemble a jungle-set episode of Penelope Pitstop. “Help!”
To conclude, ‘Opar’ is not a bad novel. It just lacks the magical pathos and coherence that made Tarzan’s opening adventure such a masterpiece. So frenetic is its rhythm that the ending creates the sensation of driving into a brick wall with all loose ends tied up in the second half of a final chapter of ten pages entitled ‘Home’. This in a book of 350 pages, tells you all that you need to know. Nonetheless, whilst hardly a diamond read, there is enough sparkle here to merit a look at ‘Jungle Tales of Tarzan’.
Barty’s Score: 7.5 / 10
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