The Return of Tarzan

The Return of Tarzan - Edgar Rice Burroughs After reading the original "Tarzan of the Apes" earlier this year, I was eager to see what the first of the many sequels was like. What I found was disappointing.

Tarzan is back, and must continually do battle against vile Russian villain Rokoff, who starts off blackmailing his own sister, but upgrades to murder based on the plot requirement. Tarzan encounters adventures on the open seas, in France, Morocco, and various locations in Africa, including the lost city of gold, Opar.

While the first book was poorly-written from a technical perspective, with an especially rough beginning, it also had a vivid sense of adventure. Many of the scenes were genuinely thrilling and exciting, and Burroughs had a knack for introducing dramatic complications that made the work a page-turner.

Only in a few places does the sequel possess the same imagination and adventure as the original. The majority of the work feels rushed, simplistic, and poorly written. At times, it's insultingly predictable, as if it was written solely with children in mind.

Time and again, Tarzan encounters a villain that is described as "somehow familiar". In every single case, it's Rokoff. This becomes comical after the first three instances.

With the exception of Tarzan himself, Rokoff and every other character is a thin, predictable caricature. They can all be described in a single sentence, and their actions never surprise.

What feels especially ridiculous are the absurd, contradictory lengths to which Burroughs goes to in keeping Rokoff alive. Tarzan, the "savage ape-man", who killed scores of men and beasts without a second thought in both books, continually lets off the antagonist with nothing more than a warning, even after the man continually tries to murder him.

While the book might have little in the way of intelligence or writing quality, it is fast-paced, and constantly features fighting and intrigue. The action is dull, if plentiful, for most of Tarzan's adventures. The book finally picks up during the second half, when Tarzan finds himself back in Africa.

There, through several chapters, the reader is treated to the sparks of imagination and high adventure so much more common in "Tarzan of the Apes". There is also intrigue, with incomplete information and a race against time confounding the protagonist, much like in the original.

Unfortunately, the reader's only reward is an absolutely awful ending. Burroughs ties every conceivable loose end together, while cheating the reader of the one thing he looked forward to most.

While a few parts of the book are sure to entertain fans of adventure novels, it's a weak effort overall, and a poor sequel to Burroughs' original Tarzan of the Apes.