FIFTY WORD SUMMARIES OF THE TARZAN NOVELS

© C.J.W. Zwart 1999

1. Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan's jungle birth, childhood, and career as king of the apes, until his life is upturned by the arrival of an expedition of whites. Tarzan saves Jane Porter, his love, and Paul d'Arnot, who familiarizes him with speech and culture. He saves Jane again in the U.S., but he respects her betrothal to William Clayton, the illegitimate Lord Greystoke.

2. The Return of Tarzan

Tarzan thwarts Nikolas Rokoff's plans, who then throws him overboard off the African coast. Tarzan assumes leadership of the Waziri and discovers the treasure vaults of Opar. Jane is shipwrecked and kidnapped by the Oparians. Tarzan saves her and they marry.

Notes: exciting and well constructed story; Tarzan operates as a secret agent in Northern Africa; W. Clayton dies after the shipwreck.

3. The beasts of Tarzan

Lengthy pursuit along the Ugambi river involving Jane, Rokoff, and Tarzan. Tarzan is assisted by Akut and his apes, the panther Sheeta, and the black giant Mugambi.

Notes: pursuit triggered by (assumed) kidnapping of Tarzan's son Jack; Rokoff gets mauled by Sheeta.

4. The Son of Tarzan

Tarzan's son Jack (Korak) deserts his parents for Africa, to follow in Tarzan's footsteps. He saves French princess Meriem from her Arab kidnappers, but when the lovers get separated they believe each other dead. Meriem survives many assailers before she manages to reunite Korak and his parents.

Notes: sometimes slow, but ultimately quite successful story featuring up to 5 parallel story lines; symbolic yarn of the troubles of adolescence.

5. Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar

Belgian deserter Werper and Arab bandit Achmet Zek covet Tarzan's possessions. Struck by an earth quake, the latter loses his memory, Jane, his ranch, his gold, and the jewels of Opar. Searching for the 'pretty pebbles', he overhauls Werper, regains his senses, and saves Jane.

Notes: miraculous plot, one of the best; main character is Werper, not Tarzan; Tarzan saves La from an elephant in heat.

7. Tarzan the Untamed

W.W. I. While haunting 'the Germans', who have ransacked his home and murdered Jane, Tarzan meets german spy Bertha Kircher, and halfheartedly protects her in the jungle. Together with english pilot Smith-Oldwick, they are captured in Xuja, a city of madmen, from which they barely make their escape.

Notes: embarrassing display of nationalism, sexism, and racism; Tarzan survives in the desert by eating a vulture; assistence from a black lion.

8. Tarzan the Terrible

Tarzan tracks Jane down to the hidden prehistoric valley Pal-ul-don, inhabited by black and white 'pithecanthropi'. He finds her in the city of A-lur, where his arrival leads to a civil war between the warriors and the priests. When they are about to be slaughtered, Korak comes to the rescue.

Notes: Tarzan subdues and rides a triceratops; he presents himself as the 'Dor-ul-Otho' (son of god); contains Pal-ul-donian glossary.

14. Tarzan the Invincible

Firebrand communists are searching for Opar, where La has been deposed. Tarzan tries to thwart their plans and to reinstate La. Much wandering about in the jungle by La, Jad-bal-ja, American agent Wayne Colt, and Zora Drinov, a girl led astray by the communists.

Notes: shameless portrayal of the Russians/Reds as the bad guys; story without spark; clichés abound (Opar, Nkima, Tantor, the Waziri, the Arabs).

15. Tarzan Triumphant

Tarzan, hunting for slavers, saves marooned pilot Lady Barbara Collis from a crater inhabited by degenerate descendants of a disciple of Paul. Many co-stars, including geologist LaFayette Smith and his buddy Danny "Gunner" Patrick, Russian spy Stabutch, and the beautiful valley girl Jezebel.

Notes: Tarzan's part is insignificant; parallel story lines do not interact for the longest time; funny reproduction of American slang (Patrick).

16. Tarzan and the City of Gold

In the isolated valleys of Athne and Cathne (the city of gold), Tarzan makes a shattering impression on Cathne's queen, Nemone. The attraction is mutual, but palace schemes and Nemone's streaks of insanity ultimately lead to Tarzan's demise. Jad-bal-ja saves him in the nick of time.

Notes: the Tarzan novel with the most erotic tension; very well construed story; almost entirely in urban setting.