Mon
Jul 8 2013 2:00pm

Advanced Readings in D&D: Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of MarsIn “Advanced Readings in D&D,” Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gary Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today. Sometimes the posts will be conversations, while other times they will be solo reflections, but one thing is guaranteed: Appendix N will be written about, along with dungeons, and maybe dragons, and probably wizards, and sometimes robots, and, if you’re up for it, even more. Welcome to the fifth post in the series, featuring a look at the beginning of the John Carter series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Tim Callahan: When we stared down the Edgar Rice Burroughs canon, we tossed around the idea that maybe we’d do a read of Pellucidar, to get into the Hollow Earth mythology, or maybe we’d do Carson of Venus to highlight one of his less-well-read series of books. Interestingly, neither of us ever threw Tarzan into the mix, and I suspect that’s because Tarzan is too much a part of the culture. Too well-trodden. Too likely not to surprise us. Though I understand that the later Tarzan books get pretty crazy. I don’t know, I haven’t read them, and I’ve only read comic book adaptations of the first book, so that probably tells you a lot about me, and not in a good way.

But we settled on A Princess of Mars, the first of the John Carter books, because it’s such a seminal work, and so hugely influential to the space opera genre and the swordfightin’ fantasy genre, and it was turned into a movie last year that was pretty disappointing in too many ways.

Not that we’re here to talk about the movie, but I’m sure it will come up, because it just did.

So A Princess of Mars, the classic novel? What do you think of it? What makes it worth reading? Is it worth reading?

Mordicai Knode: Well, I have to say; the first time I read A Princess of Mars I thought I was just sort of “paying my dues.” You know, going through the classics of the fantasy canon and giving them a shot. My expectations were pretty moderated; some classics really deserve their accolades, but I find a lot of them aren’t my cup of tea. These John Carter books...mwah! Magnifique! I really think they are the bee’s knees, and you know what else? I think a lot of modern criticism of the books—notably racial ones—are not just dead wrong, but that the Barsoom series is actually pretty great on the subject of race. Not perfect by any means, but especially given its position in history, I think the explicit moral of the story is a call for pluralism and tolerance.

I might be jumping the gun on that, so let me start with this. There are giant green aliens with four arms and tusks that lay eggs, are mildly telepathic, and have guns that shoot radium bullets which explode when light hits them. Come on, right there, that is enough of an elevator pitch to get me interested...and we’ve barely even scratched the surface. I haven’t even talked about John Carter’s suite of Superman powers or the anti-gravity properties of the Eight Ray, or the Oxygen Station that Total Recall borrowed as its MacGuffin, or the secret cults or weird critters of Mars. So...I guess what I’m saying is heck yes it is worth reading!

TC: I was astounded by the thrilling pace of the novel, and I love that the book begins with that Civil War-era framing sequence, so you really get the clash between the dusty archetypes of the old west and the operatic space adventures on Mars (ahem, Barsoom).

It’s also a book that manages to balance Burroughs obvious intelligence with the needs of the readership. The book isn’t quite the equivalent of a popcorn flick, even though its trappings may be outlandish and action-packed and visually extraordinary. Instead, it’s a smartly written planetary romance about a hero in an alien land.

Maybe that was the problem with the recent Disney movie version. Burroughs’ voice was missing, even if many of the plot elements were maintained. And without Burroughs’ voice—or with it, but only in a laborious cinematic framing sequence that didn’t have the charm of the novel—the spectacle remains, and we’ve seen plenty of spectacle in the years since this book was written.

A Princess of Mars came out in 1917! I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to read it back in those days.

MK: Seriously, reading this book when it came out must have turned your brain into a puddle that dribbled out your ears. No wait, better metaphor: it must have blown your mind so hard that your head popped off and became a Kaldane. Though you know, I liked the movie—I did find it to be a popcorn flick, but I thought it was a fun one. It isn’t going to enter my top ten or anything, but I was really confused by the drubbing it took, both at the box office and critically. I thought it was pretty, and I was entertained throughout, as was my wife, who doesn’t care about John Carter. I think the misstep was in smashing up the stories too much; adding the Therns was a nice touch, but adding a giant crawling mechanical city...well, that was where the plot convolutions starting impacting the suspension of disbelief.

The frame sequence! So...well, so weird. No, scratch that, Weird, capital W, as in the genre. So John Carter... So let me get this straight, John Carter...is immortal? They hint at it more than a few times, but what the heck is going on with John Carter? He’s an immortal warrior—it is his true warrior spirit that draws him to Mars, the planet named after the god of war—who keeps dying, and every time he dies he switches planets? From Earth to Mars, from Mars to Earth? That is...that is the sort of craziness inspired by genius; that is a Big Idea and the fact that it is just the framing device goes to show just how deeply and systemically weird the John Carter books are.

TC: Woah, that is weird. I’ve always appreciated the way the frame story provided a gritty, six-gun context for spacefaring swordsmanship, but I never spent much time thinking about the implications of his traveling soul and potential for immortality. Then again, I’ve never read any of the other books in the Barsoom series, so perhaps that stuff is emphasized more in later volumes.

Or maybe I’ve always just been distracted by the courtly heroics around Dejah Thoris and the fact that Tars Tarkas is just one of the coolest characters in the history of English-language literature. I mean, he doesn’t feature on that many pages, considering everything in the novel, but who’s better than Tars Tarkas? He’s like Han Solo and Conan all rolled up into one Martian package.

MK: I totally agree about Tars Tarkas...which I think brings us into a position to talk about race a little. First, a word on genderpolitik in here—no, it ain’t good. Dejah Thoris is pretty much a damsel and pretty high up on a pedestal. That said, there isn’t, you know, anything gross on display towards women here, just the kind of “fairer sex” tropes endemic to society at the time. I don’t want to condone that just because it isn’t blatantly offensive—the absence of real female characters with agency is a problem on its own—but, well, it isn’t offensive. Which, dealing with some of these pulps, counts for something when viewed in historical context, while at the same time failing in a larger framework. I don’t want to let it off the hook for that.

On the topic of race...well, I have read past the first book and besides the Green Martians—the aforementioned four armed giants—there are the Red Martians, who look like humans with red skin and are effectively immortal. The White Martians, Yellow Martians & Black Martians are all like the Red—that is, humanoid and long-lived. The first three books—the “John Carter trilogy” if you will—are about how John Carter unites all the races of Mars, becoming the eponymous Warlord of Mars. It is explicitly a message of how the different tribes of Mars have far more in common than dividing them, and how rejecting bad leadership, superstition, tribalism and old hatreds can result in a better, tolerant world.

I mean, that is right there in the text. That is actually the arc of the story; some White Martians are bad, some Green Martians are bad and so on, but some members of each Martian race good, also. I can understand people who see the Green Martians as a thinly veiled allegory for racial prejudice about Native Americans, and I don’t really disagree with John Carter as a manifestation of the Great White Hope—your Dances with Wolves or Avatar style white man who “saves” primitive people—but I think the fundamental message of the series undercuts that. At the end of the day, it reads like a screed of racial acceptance.

TC: But isn’t that racial acceptance only the result of the white savior? I’m only going by what you tell me here, because I’ve never read the later books, but I’m not sure you’ve convinced me that it’s all that different from Dances with Wolves, except...better.

And maybe this isn’t the place to get into it, but if we want to tie it back into Dungeons & Dragons, which is always in the background of our discussions, the racial politics of the Burroughs books aren’t all that different than what we see in early versions of the game, where there’s plenty of racial diversity (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits...I mean Halflings) but the Humans (always portrayed as white people in the illustrations) are the only ones without class restrictions and level limits. The implicit message is that all races can and should work together, but Humans are the best! Those kind of racial restrictions were removed in later editions of D&D, but they seem not dissimilar from the kinds of stories we see in the Barsoom series. Or so you tell me.

MK: The elves and dwarves and what have you are white too in most of the classic—and non-Pathfinder modern—illustrations, too, for that matter, which I talked about in my Modest Proposal post. That said, I generally find that the mechanics of species in D&D are sort of self-selecting; humans are the norm in a campaign setting, but I haven’t found them to be the norm in actual adventuring parties, you know what I mean? Everybody grab-bags and monster mashes, playing anything from halflings to...well, my last 3.5 character was an astral deva. I think the problems with orcs and other monstrous humanoids—which I also talked about on Tor.com—are much more problematic, and mirror a lot of the concerns I have with the Tharks. That is what I mean when I acknowledge the Great White Hope problem of the books; totally real and I don’t want to ignore it, but it is in a context of a paean for racial harmony, which tempers it. Plus the books are—did I mention this already?—freaking awesome.

TC: I acknowledge the paean for racial harmony and I accept the awesome. Oh yes, I do.


Tim Callahan usually writes about comics and Mordicai Knode usually writes about games. They both play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons.

43 comments
Hedgehog Dan
1. Hedgehog Dan
Liked Your analysis about the moral lesson of race in the Barsoom series (I think we can all agree that it was pretty progressive back in 1917).

And I cannot wait for Your Advanced Reading for Jack Vance.
Mordicai Knode
2. mordicai
Oh man I called this & Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd & Gray Mouser both the "bee's knees"! Talk about an overuse of a cliche...
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
Great review. Yes, I bet someone reading this in 1917 would have had their mind totally blown. These stories are indeed way cool for all the reasons you mention. Also, Woola is a great companion in the books.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
1. Hedgehog Dan

I don't know, I sort of feel like the "commonly held wisdom" was that ERB's Barsoom stories are racist? Maybe I am wrong about it, but I've always felt that the truth was far more nuanced & progressive. Anyhow, Vance is coming, yessir. I can't remember if I made any good jokes about how is name is the anagram behind Vecna, though.
Hedgehog Dan
5. Hedgehog Dan
mordicai: Oh that is great! :) Yeah, I have heard that Gygax named Vecna to pay homage to him, which is just fair if we think about the magic system of D&D, but I do not wish to hi-jack the topic. :)
Mordicai Knode
6. mordicai
5. Hedgehog Dan

Yeah, plenty of time for that, then! Anyhow, it isn't obvious, however, what Gygax & Arneson lifted from ERB, besides...like, the jist of Big Adventures.
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
3. stevenhalter

Woola is super cute, but the whole time I was fraught, worrying he'd get killed! I guess it isn't until later that pulps came up with the whole "cheap emotional shot to lend a veneer of seriousness," though?
Hedgehog Dan
8. Tim_Eagon
6. Mordicai

I think the most important thing that Gygax and company lifted from ERB and the rest of the Appendix N authors is their world building...second, would be the tone of their adventures.
Mordicai Knode
9. mordicai
8. Tim_Eagon

Yeah, I guess that is what I mean by the vague phrase "the jist of Big Adventures."
S Cooper
10. SPC
Dejah Thoris is just about the worst example in the series of women without agency. Thuvia gets several moments of awesomeness, Tara is a master swordswoman (and how could she not be, being the daughter of the Warlord), and Phaidor is a very resourceful villainess. I came to the books to try to make sense of Heinlein's The Number of the Beast and fell in love. If you ever come across a Thuvia or a Phaidor in an MMO, it's probably me. Racially I thought it was surprisingly even-handed - all of the races are xenophobic and have their own myths for why they are superior. Every one (with the possible exception of the therns) fields characters of bravery and honor.
Hedgehog Dan
11. Wizard Clip
I think it's no exaggeration to say that without Burroughs' Mars novels, the entire SF/F landscape would look entirely different. One note: A Princess of Mars was originally published in a pulp magazine as Under the Moons of Mars in 1912. It was the success of this story that opened the door for Tarzan and everything else Burroughs wrote.
Derek Broughton
12. auspex
Well, perhaps Gygax and Arneson didn't borrow specifics from Burroughs — but I certainly did. My first attempt at DMing an adventure was full of Barsoom and Melniboné.
Alan Brown
13. AlanBrown
I have to say, even though my only contact with D&D is hearing my son and his friends talk about it, I am having a lot of fun with this series. Probably because Mr. Gygax put together his list somewhere around the time I was in my teens and twenties, and consuming and enjoying vast quantities of SF and F. My second thought was, you could have chosen Tarzan at the Earth's Core to discuss, and hit two series' at the same time. Third thought, I think accusations of the Mars series being racist are tarring ERB with the same brush as his contemporaries, when in fact he was (as folks have noted) not nearly as shortsighted as they. And compared to his contemporaries, he was downright subversive. While his female characters did lack a bit of agency--again, if you compare him with contemporaries, he did give them more active roles (if I am not mistaken, they are often fighting right alongside the men). And finally, with his imagination, and the sheer unrelenting pace of his plots, he truly transformed the genre. SF was around in those days, but I can't think of another author of the time who made it so much fun to read. (By the way, if this narrative feels mooshed together, I seem to have lost the ability to insert carriage returns into Tor.com dialog boxes--so you have my aplogies, and any hints how to correct that would be appreciated.)
Mordicai Knode
14. mordicai
13. AlanBrown
(By the way, if this narrative feels mooshed together, I seem to have lost the ability to insert carriage returns into Tor.com dialog boxes--so you have my aplogies, and any hints how to correct that would be appreciated.)
Ha ha ha no man, I'm sorry, I don't know how to fix it but I did absolutely "L-O-L" actually really truly when I read this, for some reason it just strikes my fancy.
Jim Fallone
15. jfallone
Even after Gary you can trace ERB's Mars influence to Dark Sun. (
The Thri-Kreen even had the right amount of arms...)
Hedgehog Dan
16. Eugene R.
The major impression I got from reading A Princess of Mars was "Oh, so, THIS is where the standard D&D adventure comes from!", including a wildnerness campaign to a dungeon crawl. Very archetypal.

Oh, and "bee's knees" is first attributable in 1923, so whatever the reaction to Princess on first publication, it would not be that. (wink)
Birgit
17. birgit
On the Wot reread someone said that if you use Internet Explorer, you have to use compatiblility mode (click the torn sheet) to get line breaks. In Firefox I have no problems.
Andrew Knighton
18. gibbondemon
I loved these books when I was twelve. They were unlike anything I'd ever encountered. Reading them now, they sometimes feel like a weird mishmash of styles and elements, because bits of them have influenced many different sub-genres. But the name Tar Tarkas still means heroism to me.

Because I read these books so young, it's interesting to see them discussed with a more critical eye. It's all a bit Dances With Wolves, but for the time it was written that was a pretty radical approach to race. Still, I don't think I'd hand them to a modern twelve-year-old. The gender roles are pretty firmly embedded, and I'd want them to come to that part with the questioning approach of a slightly older reader.

I'm enjoying this series, even though I've not read many of the books, and look forward to the next installment.
Mordicai Knode
19. mordicai
Oh I should mention, while we are at it-- I will try to reply more to people's specific points later but I need to get ready to start my day!-- that there is a very huge influence of ERB's Barsoom books in modern RPGs...in Pathfinder. Pathfinder's space stuff in general is very ERB, but their Red Planet (& Green Planet) is in points straight up pastiche. It is cool to know that people out there making games are influenced by a) the same stuff that influenced the creation of DnD at the outset & b) the same stuff that influences me as a Storyteller!
Hedgehog Dan
21. glorbes
Oh God how I love these books.

I read them in the magic 10-12 year old range...the copies I initially had were sans front cover, so I only ever knew the back half of those Michael Whelan wrap-arounds. But I loved the books tremendously, and throughout the years thought fondly of them. Around 2005-2006, I heard that one of the studios (Paramount?) were planning on making the series into a film...that was enough for me to hunt down some paperback copies at the used book stores around town. I devoured all 10 complete books, and that really weird 11th one. I still loved them, and I think I actually appreciated them even more.

After the first three (which I re-read before the movie came out last year), my favorite is A Fighting Man of Mars. If I recall correctly, the female character in that book was exceptionally progressive for the time...she was a capable warrior, very intelligent and resourceful, and had more 'agency' than previous Burroughs heroines. It also has a battle with giant spiders, which is always a plus in my mind.

But Princess of Mars, for its sheer imagination, boundless energy, and break-neck pace, will always be the best. Gods of Mars and Swords of Mars are great at spectacle and some truly insance action (and it breaks my heart that they will probably never be adapted for the big screen), but the first effort really does fire on all cylinders.

For what its worth, I thought Stanton's movie was a noble effort and had some truly amazing bits. I've watched it many times (twice in the theatre, at least six times on BluRay), and I usually find something else to admire. I wish he would have made the film as if it was to be the only one...I think much of the clunky plotting and world building would have been streamlined tremendously. I loved the design of the thing though...loved the airships and the Tharks and the whole feel of Barsoom (he was right to develop a fresh aesthetic, although a dirty little part of me wants to see Robert Rodriguez direct a Frazetta-inspired, R-rated monster of a film). But Stanton and his people did well by themselves, and I hope the film lives on as a cult classic...it is not the disaster that everyone thinks it is.
Erik
22. gadget
I think this is a little heavy-handed on the politically correct racial angle, especially when talking about early D&D. The class structure was designed to give access to classic fantasy archetypes, therefore 'dwarf', 'elf', and 'hobbit' 'halfling' were presented as a class & a race together, while 'human' slotted into other classic archetypes such as 'wizard', 'cleric', 'thief', and 'fighter'. Reading racial stereotypes into everything does not help or enlighten matters.

Also, I quite liked the movie, despite its differences from the text. The main flaw was too many opening sequences, they could have done without the opening scene on barsoom and found other ways to get the information across to the audience once the story actually moved to mars.
Mordicai Knode
23. mordicai
22. gadget

I disagree; putting those things aside just because it is old stuff doesn't help matters; old stuff is part of the cultural context of their times but that doesn't absolve it, nor does it excuse it. Nor, for that matter, does thinking about something critically mean you dislike it.

First, I've actually got a fondness for "race as class" as a tool, mostly because...well, I think the Lord of the Rings maps that way. Elf as a class! But that is beside the point; the races of Barsoom have everything to do with real world ethnicity, & nothing to do with D&D species or class. So I'm not sure how your comment is entirely germane?

(To be fair, I definitely do frequently talk about how 'race' in RPGs overlaps with race-- & racism-- in the real world, but I don't think it applies here, to this conversation, is all. Are you arguing with my comments in a broader context than just this review?)

We can certainly agree on the opening part of the film; sloppy exposition is sloppy!

21. glorbes
...a dirty little part of me wants to see Robert Rodriguez direct a Frazetta-inspired, R-rated monster of a film...
I would watch that!
Mordicai Knode
24. mordicai
18. gibbondemon

There are a bunch of the books that I hadn't read-- or even heard of in some cases-- which for my part as a reviewer made the idea of this Advanced Readings in DnD project so appealing. I'd finally have an excuse to, as I mention above, "pay my dues."
Hedgehog Dan
25. Tim_Eagon
18. gibbondemon; 24. mordicai

Even though I started reading through Appendix N last year, this series has still been invaluable to me. For example, I wouldn't have read Hiero's Journey for a long time, if at all, if it wasn't for this series, and I would have missed out on an awesome book. That's why I can't wait for posts on the more obscure authors (also August Derleth, since his contribution to the Mythos is somewhat controversial).
Mordicai Knode
26. mordicai
25. Tim_Eagon

Derleth is coming up next, I think! Anything specific you are really curious about? It isn't too late for me to read one more piece & edit my post!
Hedgehog Dan
27. Tim_Eagon
26. mordicai

Nothing specific and truth be told, I know his work more from Call of Cthulhu than his actual stories (though I've read a couple), but I always find it interesting that when people discuss the Appendix N authors someone inevitably questions Derleth's place on the list as opposed to someone like Clark Ashton Smith.
Mordicai Knode
28. mordicai
27. Tim_Eagon

This is also true for me, so I guess we'll see what we see!
Michael Ikeda
29. mikeda
One additional note about the treatment of race in the Barsoom novels.

The Red Martians are the descendents of White, Black, and Yellow Martians who interbred until they became the Red Martians.

It is, I suspect, rather unusual for the time that what could have been called "race-mixing" is not presented as being something bad.
Alan Brown
30. AlanBrown
Hey birgit!
Thanks!
I can do carriage returns again!
My Explorer toolbar had been hidden, along with the Help menu, but after poking around on the internet for a while, I found out how to make it visible again, found the Tools menu, and found that Compatibility View thing. One click and I was fixed!
(And no making fun of the old guy, please. For someone who remembers the days of tube radios and Morse Code, I think I am doing pretty well!)
And, back on topic, I also think that John Carter the movie was poorly marketed rather than poorly made. Most folks I talk to who saw it (many not till it was on cable, unfortunately) liked it very much. For example, on Amazon.com, its average rating is 4.5 stars, which seems to indicate that those who saw it did appreciate it.
Erik
31. gadget
23. mordicai

I was not speaking of absolving and excusing, I was mainly respoding to this:
where there’s plenty of racial diversity (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits...I
mean Halflings) but the Humans (always portrayed as white people in the
illustrations) are the only ones without class restrictions and level
limits. The implicit message is that all races can and should work
together, but Humans are the best!
Which was a quote about early D&D, and I think a disingenuous portrayel of early D&D with regard to racism. Many of the early race-as-class level limits were a crude form of game balance and, as I posted above, an attempt to capture traditional fantasy archetypes that consumers would be familier with. Sometimes when we focus so much through the lense of racism, we tend to see it everywhere. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, after all.
Tim Eagon
32. Tim_Eagon
31. Gadget

While it was a form of game balance, it was also a way for Gygax to reinforce a humanocentric vision of the game.
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
33. hoopmanjh
For anyone who dug Princess, I highly, highly recommend reading the other two books in the initial trilogy -- Gods of Mars (which may be the best thing Burroughs ever wrote) and Warlord of Mars. I'm still amazed by how much stuff he can fit into 180 pages, plus or minus -- I can only imagine how big those books would be if they were coming out in this day and age.
Tim Eagon
34. Tim_Eagon
33. hoopmanjh

I'm amazed by how much many of the Appendix N authors could fit into a relatively short amount of pages, even in their series. While I love epics as much as the next person, it's something that modern authors could learn from.
Alan Brown
35. AlanBrown
Amen on the virtues of shorter books! Perhaps the book companies should rethink that whole paying-by-the-word thing! ;-)
Tim Eagon
36. Tim_Eagon
35. AlanBrown

Now, let's not get crazy...as a freelance writer for RPGs, I like being paid by the word!
Kevin Maroney
37. womzilla
The John Carter trilogy has a lot of the worst aspects of the "What These People Need is a Honky" topos from top to bottom, with a combination of Noble Savages (the Greens) and Decayed Eastern Glory (the Reds) brought into alliance against the Lawless Brutes (the Blacks) and the Inscrutible Schemers (the Whites), all redeemed by the Great American Hero.

What rescues the story is that Carter is literally an alien and completely alone; he's not a forerunner of a colonizing power, bringing his culture's enlightment to the lesser breeds. He goes completely native before the end of the first book, so his rescue of Barsoom is the rescue of his own people from themselves.

Still problematic, but a damn sight more nuanced than Avatar.
Hedgehog Dan
38. Occam
A Princess of Mars is definitely a lot of fun, but you should give Tarzan a shot, especially the first book. Conan is usually given as the prototypical model for the D&D barbarian, but as a gamer reading Tarzan of the Apes I was struck by how familiar the mechanics of the character were, to the point where it seemed that most of the individual class features of the barbarian were based directly on the character of Tarzan. Besides that, Tarzan is much more interesting in the novels than in the plethora of TV shows, movies, comics, etc. you may have already seen him in, and you get the same rollicking fun ERB style as in the Barsoom books. Worth reading.
Mordicai Knode
39. mordicai
38. Occam

Yeah, I kind of like knowing it is "out there" for me to "discover" when I get a John Carter itch that can't be scratched. Then again, I've "only" read the first six Barsoom novels...
Kevin Maroney
40. womzilla
Occam @38, the D&D barbarian is clearly mostly modeled on Conan, with a hunk of Fafhrd thrown in. But both Howard and Leiber were enormously influenced by Burroughs.
Hedgehog Dan
41. pascalahad
Late in the game, but I hope you will read my comment anyway! As a fan of Burroughs I loved your reviews and point of views. As Occam said, read at least the first Tarzan novel. I too thought I knew Tarzan, but I was way wrong, the book blew me away 100 years after it was written. Tarzan is not even Conan, it's a Wolverine before his time! As for Burroughs' women, they are very, very strong if you read between the lines, but it's true that they often play the "damsel in distress" role. Don't mix the role with the actual character!
Mordicai Knode
42. mordicai
41. pascalahad

I like that pitch-- personally, I've always liked "Wolverine is an immortal caveman & that is why his memories are spotty" logic, even though I know it isn't currently canon-- for Tarzan. I'll definitely give him a spin, though I can't say when; I can't tell if this reading project is going to give me a major sweet tooth for the "classics" or if I'm going to want to take a break when its over!
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
43. hoopmanjh
42. mordicai

If you're going to read Tarzan, I wouldn't necessarily just pick them up all in order -- to get the flavor I'd recommend maybe 1 (Tarzan of the Apes), 2 (The Return of Tarzan -- more-or-less completes the story begun in 1), 5 (Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar -- one of the first of the "lost civilization" books that took over the series; also I think one of the first "amnesia" stories) and 7 & 8 (Tarzan the Untamed/Tarzan the Terrible -- 2-part story with Tarzan chasing down Germans during WWI). They're all (by modern standards) pretty short and fast-moving.
Mordicai Knode
44. mordicai
43. hoopmanjh

Oh! Awesome. I always tell people to start reading The Culture novels with Player of Games, & I have very strong opinions facts about what order the Narnia books go in, so I appreciate it. Start with book one is easy enough to remember! When I get hooked, I'll pop back here. I still have Barsoom to read, I've only read the first six.

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