Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tarzan The Relentless!

The new addition to the Tarzan canon, officially sanctioned by the ERB folks is Return to Pal-Ul-Don by Will Murray from Altus Press. This sprawling adventure is available now in paperback sporting a lush wraparound cover by Joe DeVito. I was eager to tear into this latest adventure of the Ape Man, I was in a rush to revisit one of the most evocative ERB environments, and so I started the book with real excitement.

The story is a sequel of sorts to the early Burrough's novel Tarzan the Terrible which takes the Ape Man into a hidden land full of dinosaurs and different species of tailed humanoids. The land of Pal-Ul-Don (translates I think to the "Land of Man") but that is part of the problem here. The novel by Will Murray, a writer I have great confidence in considering his evocative and exciting Doc Savage adventures, alas disappoints. For one thing it's too long, considerably so given the meager plot. During WWII Tarzan as a member of the British military enters Pal-Ul-Don to find a missing courier who brings a potent secret to the Allies. He quickly finds himself allied with Torn Ear, an noble elephant and they penetrate the land of dinosaurs. We meet first Turtle People and later a single representative of the tailed people he'd met before. It's mostly a lengthy series of battles with a new breed, a silent, albino, and deadly race of Spider People who occupy most of the story and that's the rub.

Joe DeVito's panoramic cover art
The battles with the Spider folk seem to go on forever, and while the relentlessness of both the enemy and Tarzan is admirable, it all seemed too much of the same for too much of the story. We needed more human characters (or at least vocal ones) to stand as counterpoint to Tarzan's specific attitudes. There is some real excitement here, but between those moments we get long passages which seem to offer verisimilitude but not really much atmosphere. Fifty pages of this tome could've disappeared and the story would never have noticed.

I can only offer a limited recommendation for this one. It's certainly a new Tarzan adventure and for fans that's sufficient, but it's not the best one I've read, by far. Too bad.

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