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ERB Summary Project

Tarzan and the Ant-Men

Summarized by
Members of ERBList

Edited by
David A. Adams


Esteban Miranda

Obebe, the cannibal chief

Khamis, the witch-doctor


Tarzan (Zuanthrol, 'The Giant')



Alalus, primitive race called Zertalacolols by the Minunians

Minunians, race name of the Ant Men

Adendrohahkis, king of the ant-men

Komodoflorensal, the king's son (a.k.a. Aoponato)

Elkomoelhago, king of the Veltopismakusians

Zoanthrohago, Veltopismakusian scientist

Gofoloso, Chief of Chiefs of the Veltopismakus


Princess Janzara, daughter of King Elkomoelhago

Gefasto, Chief of Warriors of the Veltopismakus

Torndali, Chief of Quarries of the Veltopismakus

Makahago, Chief of Buildings of the Veltopismakus

Throwaldo, Chief of Agriculture of the Veltopismakus

Vestako, Chief of the Royal Dome

Kalfastoban, vental of the mines of the Veltopismakus



Caraftap - quarry-salve of Veltopismakus



Talaskhago, king of Mandalamakus


A famous London surgeon

Flora Hawkes




Village of Obebe the cannibal

Greystoke estate

Great Thorn Forest

Minuni - land of the Ant Men

Trohanadalmakus, Minumian city

Veltopismakus, ancient rivals of Trohanadalmakus

Hill of Gartolas



Bag of diamonds

Tarzan's locket

Bara, the deer

Ska, the vulture

Gorgo, the buffalo

Diadets, miniature antelope

Leafy branch, used as a weapon by Tarzan

Hooks made from iron bars


Secret panels

Trap doors in floor and ceiling

Long-dead bodies that fall into dust

African wild cats


cambon - "ratel" or African badger

the Greystoke dogs


By David Adams

Tarzan and the Ant Men was written in 1923 and first appeared as a seven-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly, February 2, 9, 16, 23; March 1, 8, 15, 1924. The first book edition was by A.C. McClurg & Co., September 30, 1924, followed by an orange cloth cover "Mixed Edition": McClurg and Grosset & Dunlap, 1925 and a Grosset & Dunlap edition in 1925 in the usual bright red cloth. There are 22 numbered chapters.

Lupoff says that this novel "contains much of Burroughs' finest pseudo-scientific speculation." He places it among "Tarzan's greatest adventures," and commented further in his ERB: Master of Adventure, "If anything keeps Tarzan and the Ant Men from being the perfect Tarzan novel, it is perhaps the embarrassment of riches of the book, that makes it just a bit too much to take... Still, the virtues of TAM so outshine its deficiencies that it must be regarded as a high point in the Tarzan series and for that matter in Burroughs' entire career."

I too must comment that Tarzan and the Ant Men is a great Tarzan effort that has the same force as his best Barsoomian Tales, in fact the swordplay, the sleuthing among an extremely well-described race, the secret panels and tunnels, the hair-breath escapes, the loyal friends and daring rescues remind me of a Martian novel more than a normal Tarzan story. Tarzan even has the ability to leap like John Carter. ERB never wrote a "Tarzan on Mars," but this is as close as he ever came to accomplishing that mighty combination.

Managing Editor's Note: Names in parantheses (name) did not appear in the story. Used here to track which ERBList member summarized which chapters.

Chapter 1 (Hadron)

In a continuation of a theme begun in Tarzan and the Golden Lion, Esteban Miranda remains a prisoner in the village of Obebe the cannibal. He wears an old slave collar attached to a rusty chain, which holds him to a stout post. He has been chained here for a year. But two things occupy his mind:- the belief that he is really Tarzan of the Apes; and his bag of diamonds, which he had taken when he murdered Kraski - that same bag of diamonds that Tarzan had gotten from an old man in the Tower of Diamonds, in the Valley of the Palace of Diamonds. Miranda's life hangs in the balance -- Obebe the chief believes that he is Tarzan, and wants to kill him; Khamis the witch-doctor believes that he is the River Devil, and will wreak a terrible vengeance if Obebe tries to kill him. Playing upon tribal superstitions, and upon the conflict between Obebe and Khamis, Miranda convinces Uhha, the latter's daughter, that he is indeed the River Devil. He gets her to release him from his chain. He escapes into the jungle, taking with him both his bag of diamonds and a hostage -- Uhha.

Chapter 2 (Hadron)

On the veranda of his African bungalow, Tarzan of the Apes stands with his son, Korak, and daughter-in-law, Meriem. Joining them soon will be the little son of Korak and Meriem. Tarzan wants to take his plane up for a solo flight, despite being but a novice pilot. Korak and Meriem don't want him to fly alone, but he does. Tarzan soon comes to country that he had never seen or explored before -- including an area known as the Great Thorn Forest. As he tries to circle it, the plane grazes against a mighty tree and crashes rendering Tarzan unconscious. A strange, brutish creature warily approaches the unconscious ape-man -- a primitive, muscular woman. This "First Woman" lifts his body, tosses him over her shoulder, and brings him to her cave dwelling. Other creatures like herself dwell nearby in similar caves. Also here are young of both sexes -- the females, armed with clubs; the males, all unarmed. These creatures have no spoken language, using grunts and gestures to communicate. The "First Woman" clubs a Second Woman to keep her man-prize. A large Third Woman then kills both The First Woman and The Second Woman. The Third Woman has captured a man whom she later carries off by the hair to her cave. The victor prepares a fire and begins to cook some antelope meat. She tosses a cut to one of the males in her cave, as Ska the vulture prepares to feast upon the bodies of the two slain shes.

Chapter 3 (Hadron)

Several of the young of this primitive tribe examine the unconscious ape-man, then quickly lose interest in him after a young boy steals his locket. Tarzan soon regains consciousness. He gets up and examines his surroundings. He sees a small group of Alali young sitting on the ground in the open. He tries to speak with them, but to no avail -- they are so primitive that they have no speech. Soon, they are pounding on the ground, and on the wall of the compound -- they are hungry. A female points to Tarzan, and indicates that they should kill and eat him. One of the males steps to Tarzan's side, to protect him against the hungry pack. Another boy is killed -- the one with Tarzan's locket. Tarzan prepares to defend himself against a young females. Just then, an adult she enters the compound, with her cowering mate. She approaches Tarzan menacingly. Tarzan makes a break for freedom, followed by the young male who had befriended him. The Third Woman pursues them. Five or six shes of the tribe soon join her. They hurl stone missiles at Tarzan and the boy, but they reach the forest, where Tarzan takes to the trees, ever mindful of the boy running along the trail below. The women give up their fruitless pursuit and return to their caves. Darkness falls. The boy, while glad to be away from the brute-women, is lonely and frightened. All around him are the terrifying sounds of the jungle.

Chapter 4 (Hadron)

Esteban Miranda is wandering, lost, through the jungle. With him is the terrified daughter of Khamis the witch-doctor -- too late has she come to realize that this crazed man is neither Tarzan nor the River Devil. They move on towards the coast, skirting the eastern edge of the Great Thorn Forest. Ska the vulture circles high above the corral of the First Woman. Death has brought him here -- in the form of a dead boy, wearing Tarzan's locket. It descends, soon followed by other vultures, who feast for two days on the body. At the end, Tarzan's locket winds up around the neck of one of the birds. Tarzan pulls the frightened boy to safety just as Numa is about to charge. Leaving the boy high in a tree, he gathers raw materials for weapons and goes to hunt Bara, the deer. He returns with meat -- he and the boy eat. Next day, Tarzan makes weapons and a loin-cloth. He soon decides to make weapons for the boy, and to instruct him in their use. It is not long before they see three brute-women, who hope to raid the corals of a neighboring tribe, for males. Tarzan and the boy hunt together; the boy soon masters his weapons. The boy's fear and timidity are diminishing, and his boldness and daring grow apace.

Chapter 5 (Hadron)

The confidence of the Alalu youth grows, as does his hunting skill under Tarzan's tutelage. One day, Tarzan and the youth separate, each of them going off to hunt on his own. Tarzan soon comes upon an unusual sight -- a horde of diminutive warriors, riding diadets, tiny antelope, surrounding and battling an Alalu she. In her hand she holds one of their number. When she sees Tarzan, she signals him to help her against her attackers. Tarzan, in turn, signals to her to release her captive. She refuses. Tarzan kills her with an arrow, and saves the life of her captive. The warriors, surprised at their leader's miraculous delivery, bury their dead and bind up their wounded. With Tarzan in their company, they return to their city, which his height enables him to see before the ant-men can. Still hungry, Tarzan now hunts. He kills Bara, the deer. With the rapier of one of the warriors, he cuts off some meat and, to the dismay of his companions, eats it uncooked.

Chapter 6 (Nkima)

Ska, the vulture, the one with Tarzan's locket about its neck approaches a dead buffalo to feed. Esteban and Uhha continue through the jungle. Meanwhile, Tarzan quickly learns the ant-men language. The ant-man he rescued is Komodoflorensal, King Adendrohakis' son. They welcome Tarzan to their gigantic dome-houses (described in 4 pages of text) in the city of Trohanadalmakus. (There are 11 domes inhabited by 500,000 people, with another 500,000 slaves living underground in the mines.) Tarzan learns their history (5 pages of text) and about their ancient rivalry with the city of Veltopismakus. The status of slaves and their dress are described: green tunics, first and second-generation slaves of lower standing; white tunic slaves, who are overseers.

Chapter 7 (Nkima)

The Alalus youth, son of The First Woman falls in with two older males of his own species. They see him kill a woman with his bow and arrow and learn the skill themselves. Tarzan warns "his" ant-men about the approach of the Veltopismakusians to attack the Trohanakalmakians. Once again he earns the gratitude of the Trohanakalmakians, and the king calls him by name, which is the highest honor. As they prepare for battle, Tarzan tears a leafy branch from a tree to use as a weapon.

Chapter 8 (Nkima)

Elsewhere, Tarzan's locket around Ska's neck gets caught on the dead buffalo's horn and strangles the bird. Meanwhile, Tarzan helps the Trohanakalmakians fight the Veltopismakusians in a mighty battle, but he is easily overwhelmed by the tiny riders and sinks into unconsciousness. Elsewhere, Uhha knocks out Esteban and escapes by night with the bag of diamonds, but she is stalked by a lion.

Chapter 9 (Nkima)

Tarzan awakens upon an earthen floor in a large chamber, which is lit by two large candles. He sees a large number of men his own size dressed like the Trohanakalmakians and the Veltopismakusians. He learns that the battle has not gone well for the Veltopismakusians and Elkomoelhago, their king. They had heavy casualties and prisoners taken. Tarzan thinks the Veltopismakusians have changed themselves into men of his own stature. He is amazed to see the dome of a building 880 feet in diameter and 440 feet high. How could this be?

Note: The buildings of the Minunians were constructed with stone walls over which wooden domes were thrown, and these covered with rock and asphaltum (asphalt). The palace of Adendrohakis was actually 220 feet in diameter and 110 feet high (a perceived 1/4 scale, as six foot man is compared to 18 inch man). This was in itself an amazing architectural feat when you consider that the real Pantheon at 142 feet internally and rising to a height of 143 feet is considered to be colossal for a building of stone and concrete. In the Renaissance, almost thirteen centuries after its construction it was still the largest dome ever built. Brunelleschi's octagonal dome of 1436 for Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence was made of two shells, one inside the other. It measures 143 feet across and 105 feet high. Modern domes of course are much larger, employing stronger and lighter materials. For instance, the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans has an outside diameter of 680 feet and is 273 feet high.

They give Tarzan a green tunic because he is now the slave of Zoanthrohago, and he is brought before Elkomoelhago, the king and Gogoloso, the Chief of Chiefs. He whispers how he reduced Tarzan to Minunian size and wagers with Dalfastomalo that the condition will last 39 moons. The king's daughter, Princess Janzara, looks upon Tarzan. (Komodoflorensal is in love with her.) They think Tarzan cannot speak (like the Zertalacolols). The Princess tries to make him cry out by stabbing his arm. Tarzan remains mute. She is angry that Tarzan dares to stare into her eyes. She calls for Zoanthrohago that she may buy Tarzan and have the right to kill him.

Chapter 10 (Nkima)

Esteban Miranda awakens with amnesia. He does not know that he is naked and has lost the diamonds. ERB says that "Uhha had killed his objective mind," yet his physical movements are not impaired in any way. He moves into the jungle talking to himself, yet killing and eating efficiently. Elsewhere, Princess Janzara is not allowed to buy Tarzan because he is a valuable experiment. Tarzan is sent to the quarries. The king's advisors (see names above) are angry they serve a royal half-wit who thinks he discovered the secret shrinking Tarzan. The genius of Zoanthrohago actually accomplished the deed. All the advisors are ill-chosen for their tasks except for Gefasto, Chief of Warriors, who is a military genius. Vestako, Chief of the Royal Dome is a toady. The advisors speak their minds about the king freely in front of Vestako, who calls it treason. They each give him a 100 slaves to keep his mouth shut. Vestako gets nothing from Gefasto except a warning that if anything should happen to him, his warriors would find a way to slip a dagger between his ribs. Only Gefasto and Gofoloso are brave men who actually deplore the conditions they live under. Gefasto thinks the problem is that there is too much peace, and ERB provides 4 pages of the philosophy of the benefits of war and work. They want to see the end of their weak king, Elkomoelhago.

Chapter 11 (Nkima)

Tarzan is taken to the quarries of Veltopismakus to help construct the 9th dome of that city. Since they think he cannot talk, they give him the name Zuanthrol, which means "The Giant." He is to work with the timbering crew under an officer, or Vental, named Kalfastoban. After the day's work is done, a beautiful girl slave cooks for him. She is called Talaskar, and he speaks to her, revealing that he knows the Minunian language and is not a Zertalacolol. She is a Trohanakalmakian, born underground, and since her mother did not report her birth, no one knows of her existence. She is able to change her facial appearance to look like a hideous and wrinkled hag so no Veltopismakusian will want to mate with her. Her father is from far Mandalamakus. A slave called Caraftap makes advances toward her, and Tarzan intervenes. Caraftap charges toward the ape-man.

Chapter 12 (Nkima)

The Son of The First Woman and ten other armed males drive away a predatory woman. A group of angry women go in search of these rebellious men. Tarzan punches out Caraftap and is caught fighting, which is not permitted, by Kalfastoban who tells him he will receive 100 lashes. Talaskar intervenes, forgetting she is beautiful, and Kalfastoban decides to buy her. Tarzan discovers Komodoflorensal is also a prisoner (under the secret identity of Aoponato). He is the other man whom Talaskar cooks for. He explains to Tarzan that he has been reduced in size rather than everyone and everything being enlarged (as he still imagined the case to be). Komodoflorensal explains the process of the great wizard, or walmak, (scientist) Zoanthrohago, who can only make men smaller, not larger, as he wishes to do. He also explains how the candles consume the deadly underground gasses and liberate oxygen. Tarzan says, "Tuano," "Good night," and goes to sleep.

Chapter 13 (Nkima)

Tarzan tells Komodoflorensal that when they make an attempt to escape they must take Talaskar with them. (The method of writing numbers (which are also names) in Minunian hieroglyphics is explained.) Komodoflorensal convinces the guards that he can converse with Tarzan by stating a question in Minunian then speaking gibberish to him. Thus, they are allowed to work together. Tarzan is summoned before Zoanthrohago with Komodoflorensal as his "translator." (The military organization of the Veltopismakus is explained. They are superior to the T. in drill, but are not trained in the sterner arts of war.) Elkomoelhago, king of the V. wants to see Tarzan, who does not kneel to him. The king lets it pass ‘this time" because he is an important experiment.

Chapter 14 (Nkima)

Fifty Alali women set out to punish the recalcitrant males but are driven back except for a few that are kept as cooks. Thus, the tables are turned on some of the women. King Elkomoelhago wants the secret of Zoanthrohago's shrinking methods but has to make the wizard a member of his royal councilors (a new post -- Assistant Chief of Chiefs). They talk freely before Tarzan, whom they think does not understand their language, thus, he learns that his reduction is limited to 39 moons. A rat is reduced with an apparatus with revolving disc with seven segments and seven dials. Tarzan memorizes the settings. (This is a novelistic thread which is not followed by the author. From this point the novel takes on flavor of Barsoomian adventures.)

Chapter 15 (Nkima)

Tarzan and Komodoflorensal are placed in a small chamber in the king's dome. Tarzan tells Komodoflorensal that he has a very limited time to get out of the city before he grows large again. He tears the bars out of the window and replaces them loosely. Komodoflorensal thinks they might have some hope of escaping now and Tarzan smiles. "He seldom, if ever, laughed aloud." After they are fed, Tarzan forms hooks from the iron bars, and they descend the central shaft of the dome upon them 400 feet below. They both reach an embrasure at the very end of the hooks and enter a room. Passing through a door, they find a highly decorated room with many men lying in pools of blood.

Chapter 16 (Nkima)

They discover that the men are not dead, just dead drunk, lying in pools of wine. Two more guards enter the room, and are killed by Komodoflorensal who picked up a rapier, and by Tarzan with just an iron bar against a skilled swordsman. (He crushes the man's skull to the bridge of his nose.) They take the habiliments of the Veltopismakusian warriors, then dress the two dead men in their own green tunics and throw the bodies down the central shaft, also dropping a couple of hooks to make it look as through they had fallen while trying to escape. They decide to hide in a common sleeping room until daybreak. At breakfast in a poor shop, the owner discusses the evils of taxes with them. On their way to the Slaves' Corridor (to rescue Talaskar) they hear that the bodies of the guards have indeed provided them with the cover they need, as the faces are totally disfigured. The dead are thrown to the lions outside the city.

Chapter 17 (Nkima)

Tarzan and Komodoflorensal return to the quarry to rescue Talaskar. A guard recognizes them and traps Komodoflorensal, but is killed by Tarzan who learned foils under Lieutenant Paul D'Arnot's tutelage. They discover that Talaskar has been taken away by Kalfastoban so head for his quarters but are recognized by Caraftap. They bribe a guard to learn the location of Kalfastoban's quarters. He is found in the process of showing off his new slave to a friend, Hamadalban. Tarzan and Komodoflorensal overhead their betrayal by Caraftap and guards go in search of them.

Chapter 18 (Nkima)

Kalfastoban tries to kiss Talaskar, and Tarzan strangles Caraftap to death (nearly ripping his head off) while Komodoflorensal runs his blade through the heart of Kalfastoban. They escape through a trap door in the ceiling. In an upper room they find a tunnel in which they see figure of a man that crumbles into dust upon Tarzan's touch. Komodoflorensal tells Tarzan about an ancient battle between the Ant Men and real ants. In a third chamber they hear a human voice.

Chapter 19 (Nkima)

Korak searches for Tarzan with the bravest of the Waziri with success, finally entering rocky uplands filled with stunted thorns. The voice comes from an opening in the wall; Tarzan, Komodoflorensal and Talaskar enter a narrow, secret passage behind a room which contains Princess Janzara. Tarzan goes through a secret panel in the wall and captures the Princess who goes with him willingly, saying, I love you." Tarzan replies that he loves another, and Komodoflorensal thinks he means Talaskar. The Princess sends Tarzan down a polished chute for spurning her love while Komodoflorensal and Talaskar run forward too late to help him. Tarzan finds himself in a cage with two ordinary African wild cats, which are the size of lions to him. A man in the next chamber tells him to hold the cats off and come to the gate and he will let him in to safety. Komodoflorensal leaps into the chute behind Tarzan, while Janzara and Talaskar fight on the floor. The two women fall down the chute as well just as Tarzan and Komodoflorensal are about to gain safety through the gate.

Chapter 20 (Nkima)

The man in the chamber comes to help Tarzan and Komodoflorensal fight the cats. The man turns out to be Zoanthrohago who loves the Princess. They all decide to escape the Veltopismakusians together. Princess Janzara is repentant, and Komodoflorensal learns that Tarzan does not love Talaskar, which is fine with him because he loves her even though he is a Prince and she is only a slave girl. They simply go out of the door in the pit because it is not locked. (The cats were the real guardians of the pit.) Princess Janzara orders Oratharc, a loyal guard, to provide them with six diadets (six because the guard wants to join them). They ride out through the Warriors' Corridor, rapidly pursued because the guard had to fight for the diadets. They run down a sentry and head for the hills. The fugitives travel all day and at night sleep in the hole of a ratel, the African member of the badger family, which they call a cambon. Tarzan is the last to enter the hole, chased by a real lion that towers over twice the ape-man's height.

Chapter 21 (Nkima)

It is about a week's journey to Trohanadalmakus, which lies east of Veltopismakus. On the fourth day, they are approached by Veltopismakusians warriors who tell the Princess she will be pardoned if she returns. "Never!" cry Janzara and Zoanthrohago. They ride into a forest, and are all captured by a horde of hideous Zertalocolol women and men, who turn out to be the son of The First Woman, his companions, and their women. The women are now subject to the men, even beaten and mistreated, but they love it. Back at Trohanakalmak at last, Tarzan is made a zertol, or prince, the Veltopismakusians are given their liberty, and Talaskar is revealed to be the daughter of Talaskhago, a princess in her own right. Weeks pass and Tarzan still does not get any larger, so he decides to start for home, hoping he will come to his normal size on the way. He starts to change while sleeping in a burrow, but claws his way to the surface. Hearing a growl behind him, he runs through the thorn trees, stumbles and falls unconscious to the ground.

Chapter 22 (Nkima)

Usula, the Waziri warrior searches Obebe the cannibal's village for Tarzan without success. On the way home he sees the bones of a child and finds Tarzan's bag of diamonds. Later he discovers Esteban eating a long-dead buffalo and returns his locket to him, found hanging on the horns. He thinks it is Tarzan gone completely insane and brings him home. The Greystoke dogs won't come near him, nor will Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion. Korak fears Jane's seeing him in this state when she returns from England. It is Khamis who comes upon the restored Tarzan, so he takes him to the cannibal village to discover the whereabouts of his daughter, Uhha. Finally, they decide to burn out his eyes. A famous London surgeon, Lady Greystoke, and Flora Hawkes, her maid talk to Esteban, hoping an operation will restore his memory. Tarzan breaks his bonds and throws Khamis, the witch doctor, through the roof of Obebe's hut, and the king of the cannibals kills him. Flora Hawkes recognizes Esteban at last, just as Tarzan walks through the door. Jane wonders how she could have been mistaken and kisses her mate.