EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
TARZAN AT THE EARTH'S CORE
David "Nkima" Adams
Copyright © 2000
Erich von Harben
Zuppner (Captain of the O-200)
Lieutenant Wilhelm Von Horst
Lieutenant Hines (Navigtaror)
Robert Jones (Negro cook)
Tar-gash (a Sagoth)
M’wa-lot (a Sagoth)
To-yad (a Sagoth)
Thoar (a gilak, brother of Jana)
Jana, the Red Flower of Zoram
Lana (Jana’s sister)
Skruk (chief of the Pheli)
Gluf (warrior of the Phelians)
Sherlock Holmes (mentioned)
Cynthia Furnois (mentioned)
Barbara Green (mentioned)
Ovan (from Clovi)
Avan (chief of the Clovi)
Carb (warrior of the Clovi)
Lajo (a Korsar)
Horibs (snake people)
Ja of Anoroc
Thag (a wild bull of Pellucidar)
Thipdar (a Pteranodon)
Dyal (a Phororhacos of the Miocene)
Ryth (cave bear)
Dyrodor (flying stegosaurus)
Gorobors (peiosaurus of the Triassic)
Tarzan at the Earth's Core (TEC) was written in 1928 right after Tanar of Pellucidar. This sequel first appeared as a seven-part serial in The Blue Book Magazine, September 1929 through March 1930. This story mixes realms of Tarzan and Pellucidar and is generally considered one of the better Tarzan novels. The first book edition was by Metropolitan, November 28, 1930. A “mixed edition” with Metropolitan title page and interior and G&D binding and dust jacket was printed with 17 chapters in 1932. The first G&D reprint edition also came out in 1932, followed by a 1940 edition which has no interior illustrations. Burroughs was paid $8000, the largest sum he had ever received for a story.
[Managing Editor's Note: Burroughs received $8,000 for the pulp rights to Tarzan and the Leopard Men. Shortly thereafter ERB was paid $10,000 for the pulp rights to Tarzan and the Lion Man.]
The sequel to “Tanar” as first titled “Tarzan and Pellucidar,” was completed early in 1929, and the motive used for launching a series of further adventures was hardly original -- another rescue mission, this time to save David Innes, first Emperor of Pellucidar, “languishing in the dark dungeon in the land of the Korsars.” Tarzan is persuaded by Jason Gridley to join the expedition; convinced that a polar opening to the inner world does exist. Gridley constructs a huge zeppelin to make the journey, find the opening, and enter the land of Pellucidar. The finished dirigible was named the O-220, taken from Burroughs’ telephone number. The “O” was for Owensmouth, a community in the west end of San Fernando Valley now called Canoga Park.
The perils of Pellucidar, caused by hostile races and swarms of prehistoric monsters exceeding any devised in previous Burroughs novels, are faced separately by Tarzan and Jason Gridley. Among the creatures invented for the story are the Horibs or snake-men, possessors of the three-toed feet and five-toed hands of reptiles, bodies covered with scales and soft, white bellies. Gridley encounters many of the dangers in the company of Jana, the Red Flower of Zoram, with whom he falls in love.
The device of having Von Horst, mate of the O-220, vanish somewhere in the wilds of Pellucidar was an obvious indication that a further sequel with a third search for a missing man would be a Burroughs’ project of the future, which was not taken up until 1935 in his Back to the Stone Age.
With Tarzan at the Earth’s Core, despite a number of high points, the imaginative fabric of the earlier volumes starts to break down. Pellucidar, unfortunately, loses much of its feeling of being a cohesive world with institutions of its own. Instead, the impression is given of a dangerous primitive land, divided into enclaves of various sorts, with little of the cohesion and interest of the first three volumes.
Volume XIII, Tarzan at the Earth’s Core, is canonical. That is, it was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but it is all fiction...The book is, in essence, a story of Tarzan going to Heaven. This world inside our world is wild and free with great jungles and beasts that have become extinct on the outside. It would be Tarzan’s Happy Hunting Ground if it existed, and he would have left it only long enough to get Jane and his son, Jack, and perhaps Korak and Meriem and their son, and then return to it...Pellucidar, the vast prehistoric world deep beneath our feet, is a dream of a world such as Tarzan would call Paradise.
The bare facts of Pellucidar are restated by the author as things “every schoolboy knows.” We are also reminded that David Innes is still languishing in the dungeon of the Korsars since the last communication via Gridley Wave.
Chapter 1 - The O-220
Jason Gridley goes to Africa to enlist Tarzan’s aid in the rescue of David Innes. Tarzan is skeptical of the existence of an inner world, but is finally convinced enough to lead him to the von Harben mission where Erich helps them plan a Zeppelin to be constructed from a light metal called Harbenite -- the O-220. The ship is built in 6 months in Friedrichshafen -- with a machine gun in the tail, and it carries a small scout monoplane. The exact construction of the ship is presented with scientific details. The heroes are ready to look for the North polar opening into Pellucidar.
Tarzan asks that he and his warriors be taught the control of the ship should they have to take over if any of the crew are killed. The ship performs so well on its maiden flight that they decide to skip the planned return and head straight for the North Pole. They arrive at midnight on the 2nd day. Setting Gridley’s course for a descent into Pellucidar, they arrive easily without incident. “This looks like heaven to me,” says Tarzan as he spies great herds of game grazing the open pasture land. They land and all, except a watch of an officer and 2 men, disembark upon knee deep, lush grasses. They decide to rest, and Tarzan wakes first and goes out to hunt. Enjoying his new surroundings, he is caught in a snare and hung upside down like a human plum-bob. Hanging helpless, Tarzan is approached by a thag, a Bos Primigenus, a great wild bull, which is killed and partially eaten by a sabertooth tiger. The great cat notices Tarzan and begins stalking him.
Chapter 3 - The Great Cats
There is humor when the Negro cook, Robert Jones, does not know which meal to cook under a sun of eternal noon. Doft, reports seeing a cave bear, a dozen sabertooth tigers, and a Pteranodon during his watch. They decide to give Tarzan but another hour before they send out a search party. Gridley and Von Horst finally go out with Muviro and his warriors, who take the lead in tracking. They blaze a trail until they reach a game trail, which they follow without further marking. They are followed by a dozen sabertooth tigers herding prehistoric game into a clearing. As the men cross the clearing hundreds of tigers begin attacking their prey. The men run into the jungle to escape thousands of stampeding animals, and they get separated. Gridley watches a lone bull mammoth go down, the last remaining survivor of the circle.
Chapter 4 - The Sagoths
Tarzan ponders religion and death as the saber-tooth approaches. The ape-man is rescued by man-like gorillas speaking the language of the great apes. These Sagoths are of the tribe of M’wa-lot. They call Tarzan a gilak. Tarzan is bound. The Sagoths drive off the saber-tooth and eat the thag. The Sagoths reset the snare. Tar-gash removes Tarzan’s bonds upon his request, but then fights To-yad, who wants to wait for M’wa-lot’s approval. M’wa-lot and tribe arrives. To-yad tells M’wa-lot of his fight with Tar-gash. When M’wa-lot tries to club Tar-gash from behind, Tarzan warns his new friend. They escape together through the trees. Tarzan realizes that he is lost.
Chapter 5 - Brought Down
Jason Gridley muses that the great slaughter of the sabertooths may indicate why these animals are extinct upon the outer crust. Applying this same logic, he reasons Jurassic dinosaurs died and that mankind might suffer the same fate. Gridley is alone. Famished, he descends from his haven to cut a portion of a dead thag at the foot of the tree. He cannot escape until the sabertooths and other animals have their fill at the killing site.
Jason is lost. The men aboard the O-220 cannot search or they too will become lost. He follows a trail and, by chance, finds the ship. He has been gone 72 hours, yet to him it seems like a week. Gridley rests, then takes the scout plane aloft. He cannot mark his direction of flight by landmarks, lacking a horizon. Two hours later his plane is attacked by a pteranodon. He parachutes out, but is struck unconscious.
Chapter 6 - A Phorohacos of the Miocene
Tar-gash, using a natural homing instinct, cannot understand how Tarzan can be lost. They hunt together, become friends, and Tarzan teaches him how to make and use the bow and spear. Tarzan loses interest in finding his own people. Jason’s plane passes over but he does not see Tarzan. Tarzan and Tar-gash continue on; they are attacked by a Dyal, a Phororhacos of the Miocene. Tarzan and another who was being attacked by the bird kill the creature. He is Thoar, a gilak of the Stone-Age. Tarzan learns the man’s language as the three travel. They proceed toward Zoram, Thoar’s home in the Mountains of the Thipdars, when Tarzan discovers the wreckage of Jason’s plane.
Chapter 7 - The Red Flower of Zoram
Jana, the Red Flower of Zoram, is pursued by four men from Pheli who want to capture her for a mate. Her sister, Lana, had been thus stolen. Jana climbs a steep cliff, but the Skruk and his companions follow her. She sees Jason’s plane attacked by the thipdar and his descent in a “huge toadstool.” Jana runs, but is pursued by Skruk and his men. As they run toward Jason, four hyaenodons (jaloks) join the chase. Jason kills two of the jaloks with his revolver and the other two are killed by Skruk and his men. Jason and Jana are threatened by the cave men. Jason is forced to kill Gluf. Since the others continue to advance, he shoots another. The two remaining men turn and run. Jana admires Jason.
Chapter 8 - Jana and Jason
Like Sherlock Holmes [mentioned in chapter 10] Tarzan recognizes Jason’s footprints at the plane, and a dead pteranodon, Jason’s parachute, and the bodies of four hyaenodons and two hairy men. Thoar is able to add to the clues, saying that the sandaled one is his sister. Meanwhile, Muviro and his warriors and "a white man" (Von Horst) are lost fifty miles east on the Gyor Cors. Zuppner has sent Doft with a search party, but they return thinking the missing ones have been destroyed by the great cats. The ship is moved to another site. Jason and Jana inspect the crashed plane, recovering a 30-30 with ammunition. They start walking to Zoram, Jana’s home. As they travel, Jason admiring the woman, learns her language. As they follow a deep chasm, Jason loses his sense of time and responsibility. Jason mentally compares Jana with Cynthia Furnois and Barbara Green. Jana senses his mind and tells him to go his own way and she will go hers.
Chapter 9 - To The Thipdar’s Nest
A rain storm makes Tarzan and his friends uncomfortable. They have no spoor to follow, and can only hope Jason and Jana have found their way to Zoram. The three heroes are attacked by a pteranodon, which carries Tarzan away. Tar-gash decides to return to his own tribe, and Thoar head toward Zoram. Tarzan is carried to the creature's nest. He quickly kills it, but is trapped upon a lofty 300-foot granite spire. Tarzan laboriously descends and then decides to get out of the high mountains to lower ground. On the way he finds a boy threatened by a ryth (cave bear). Tarzan shoots his four remaining arrows, throws his spear, then dashes back down the narrow ledge pursued by the bear. Tarzan throws his rope over a granite projection and clambers upward.
Chapter 10 - Only A Man May Go
Jana runs away from Jason. He remains bemused by the girl. Jana pulls her stone knife to prevent him following, but he follows anyway. To escape him, she climbs down a sheer escarpment, issuing a taunt. When Jason follows, the girl, unseen by Jason, bursts into tears of relief at his success. Later, Jana thinks Jason has been swept away by a flash flood. He has reached higher ground, but has lost the rifle. Jason sleeps naked while his clothes dry on a tree. He awakes to find his shirt and pistols only. He makes a loin-cloth and stands forth, “an Adam armed with two Colts.” He tans to bronze and wears reptile-skin sandals on his feet. Jason makes a spear and bow and arrows because his ammunition will not last forever. He gives up all hope of ever returning to the surface world. Later, Jason finds a camp in a canyon, but a huge dinosaur flies down to attack the man he has seen. Jason comes to the rescue, six-guns drawn.
Chapter 11 - The Cavern of Clovi
Tarzan’s rope breaks and he lands on the bear’s back where he clings until he kills it with his knife. Tarzan tells the boy, Ovan from Clovi, that he is lost. Ovan is the son of the chief, Avan. The Clovi steal the women from Zoram for mates because there are always fewer women than men. Ovan heals Tarzan’s wounds, then takes him to the Clovi caves. The Clovi are suspicious of Tarzan at first, but decide to let him live. Tarzan muses that the Clovians might be useful allies in a future search for Jason and the camp of the O-220. Carb and his men return from a Zoram raid. They have not met Tarzan and Carb is in favor of killing Tarzan at once, but it has to be decided by the council of warriors. Carb has captured Jana. Tarzan explains how he met Thoar, and that the man she was traveling with is his friend. As the council meets to decide Tarzan’s fate, he waits in a cave with Jana.
Chapter 12 - The Phelian Swamp
Jason identifies the dinosaur as a flying stegosaurus (a dyrodor). He shoots as it passes overhead. Jason has saved Thoar, the brother of Jana. They tell their stories, but Jason mistakenly believes Thoar is Jana’s mate. He is angry that she played him for a fool. The men search for Jana together in the mountains and in the land of Pheli. The land of Pheli is in a swamp filled with prehistoric reptiles. The people live in log houses on hills in the swamp defended by sharpened stakes. As Jason and Thoar approach the village they are watched by cruel eyes gleaming from whiskered faces.
Chapter 13 - The Horibs
The council decides to kill Tarzan and give Jana to Carb. Ovan, the boy Tarzan has rescued, comes with a torch and shows them a secret way out of the cave. Tarzan and Jana descend the mountains to a vast plain which is filled with Gyors, a great beast resembling the triceratops. The Gyor is hunted by Horibs, the snake people. Tarzan and Jana meet a Gyor, but it is being hunted by 50 Horibs riding Gorobors (analogous to the periosaurus of the Triassic), the swiftest animal in Pellucidar. The Horibs slay the Gyor then surround Tarzan and Jana. The snake men have three-toed feet, and five-toed hands. Their heads and faces resemble a snake with pointed ears and two short horns. The entire body was covered with scales. Their dress and weapons are described in great detail.
Chapter 14 - Through the Dark Forest
Jason and Thoar find the Phelian village deserted. Korsars, who have come upriver to take women, think they have captured Tanar. Jason considers the capture good luck, they will be in a closer proximity to David Innes if they go to Korsar. Jason asks Lajo, a Korsar, to cut his bonds. There is a brief tussle, Lajo kills another pirate over the freeing of Tanar and Thoar. The crew members strip the dead. Jason and Thoar help row the longboat. The ship is attacked by Horibs. Doomed from the start, they are towed by the Horibs to shore. Only three Korsars survive, including Lajo, along with Jason and Thoar. The Horibs eat the dead Korsars. Jason falls asleep and has a nightmare of Jana in Horib hands. They are taken deeper into the swamp. Jason is told that they will be fed eggs until they are fit to be eaten by the females and little ones of the Horibs. They are imprisoned under water and underground.
Chapter 15 - Prisoners
The Horibs take Tarzan and Jana into the forest through which Jason and Thoar were taken. Jason is in the hole beneath the lake. They decide to try to dig out toward the forest. Meanwhile, the O-220 under Zuppner's command is searching for them. Tarzan escapes into the trees, leaving disconcerted Jana behind. He follows the scent to his Waziri, wandering lost. Tarzan and the Waziri attack the Horibs, and kill most of them, but a few escape, taking Jana along. Tarzan leaps upon the back of a Gorobar and shoots the one carrying Jana, but just as he is about to complete his rescue, the ape-man falls into a hole and is pulled underground.
Chapter 15 - Escape
The O-220 lands at a place where a river empties into the sea. The hole that Tarzan fell into is the tunnel Jason made to escape the Horibs. Seeing Jana carried off by the Horib, Tarzan runs to the rescue of the girl. Jason comes out of the hole and follows. Tarzan overtakes the Horib and rescues Jana, carrying her into the trees where she says she wishes that Jason had lived. Jason catches up with Tarzan and Jana. She calls him a Jalok and tells him to stay away. They find the Waziri and Thoar, with three Korsars, and prevent a battle--the Waziri believe the men had something to do with Tarzan’s disappearance. Thoar is happy to see Tarzan alive and Jana safe. He embraces his sister. Jason is jealous, still thinking she is his mate. Thoar and Jana go with Tarzan, Jason, and the Waziri to the land of the Korsars. They find the Korsar longboat and sail down the river to the sea where the Korsar ship is supposed to be anchored. The ship has gone back to Korsar. They land on an island to prepare food and supplies for the long journey.
Chapter 17 - Reunited
The O-220 sails the same route as the longboat. A great storm comes up and Jason tells Jana that he loves her. They are presently met by Ja of Anoroc, admiral of the fleet of David I. Just then the O-220 arrives overhead. They fire 21-gun salutes to each other. All except the Korsars are lifted by a sling to the dirigible. Jason discovers that everyone knew Thoar was Jana’s brother except himself. They show the powerful weapons on both ships to the captured Korsars who they hope will persuade The Cid to release David Innes without a shot being fired. Lajo is dropped by parachute with the message. David Innes is presently returned without further ado. Jason returns to Sari with David and the fleet so he may search for Von Horst. Jana, The Red Flower of Zoram goes with him. “I am going to Sari with the man I love.”