ERB Summary Project
Cover by Richard Powers, circa 1964

CHARACTERS

Tarzan

Numa

Sheeta

Valthor (noble of Athne)

Gemnon (noble of Cathne)

Phobeg

Tomos (Nemone’s councillor)

Queen Nemone of Cathne

Erot (officer of Cathne)

Xerstle (noble of Cathne)

M’duze (the hag-Nemone’s mother?)

Alextar (Nemone’s brother)

Belthar, the Queen’s lion

Doria (Gemnon’s sweetheart)

Thudos

Pindes

Hafim

Niaka

Maluma

Jad-Bal-Ja (lion)

EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
Tarzan and the City of Gold

Summarized by
Duane Adams

Introduction

This Tarzan story, written in November of 1931 directly after Pirates of Venus, was first published as a serial in six parts in Argosy, March 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9, 16, 1932. The first edition book was published by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. on September 1, 1933. It is Burroughs’ fortieth hardback book. There have been fourteen other printings of this novel in hard bound and paper bound versions with multiple different dust wrappers and cover art. Information obtained from Robert B. Zeuschner’s The Exhaustive Scholar’s and Collector’s Descriptive Bibliography.


Chapter One — Savage Quarry

In Abyssinia at the end of the rainy season a band of shiftas approach down wind to Tarzan. The wappi Tarzan is hunting alerts him to the danger. Tarzan kills two of the bandits and wounds three others with his bow. Tarzan swings onto a horse’s back and dispatches the rider with his father’s hunting knife. He rides the horse into the river. A shot from a shiftas’ gun accidently kills gimla, the crocodile, which spooked Tarzan’s horse in the middle of the river. Tarzan rides off with a parting shot from his bow.

Chapter Two — The White Prisoner

A golden colored lion with a black mane rises from his kill, sniffs the air, and follows a scent. After eating and resting, Tarzan decides to track the shiftas to discover their intentions plus to seek some revenge for their attack. Tarzan’s concept for mankind is expounded. That night he finds twenty shiftas encircled by a boma. They have a white prisoner. Tarzan decides to release the prisoner for his revenge. Tarzan detects a lion outside the boma. As everyone sleeps, he slips into the camp and kills the single guard. Before Tarzan and the white prisoner can make their escape, a lion’s roar wakens the bandits who quickly surround them. During a bold move by Tarzan to break through the bandits line, a shifta takes aim at Tarzan with his matchlock.

Chapter Three — Cats by Night

A lion jumps the boma. The shiftas panic. Tarzan throws a bandit to the lion. The ape-man and his companion make their escape. Tarzan prepares to sleep in the trees. The former prisoner prefers to sleep on the ground. Sheeta rustles a branch which alerts Tarzan. Before the leopard can pounce on the sleeping man, Tarzan leaps on it’s back and in a terrific battle kills sheeta with his knife. They sleep in the trees that night. A description of Tarzan’s ivory-armored companion is given. For weeks Valthor, the former prisoner of the shiftas, and Tarzan travel towards Athne, the City of Ivory, Valthor’s home. Tarzan learns his language. Valthor learns how to use bow and arrows. A lion, standing over it’s kill, a buffalo calf, faces a charging bull Gorgo. The mighty lion kills the bull, feasts on buffalo, and continues to follow it’s mysterious trail.

Chapter Four — Down the Flood

After traveling in circles for a long time, Valthor finally recognizes the area. They must pass near Cathne, the City of Gold, the enemies of Athne. Valthor relates history, trade, and custom information about Cathne and Athne. In a terrific storm with flood water rising Tarzan and Valthor attempt to ford a river. The rain has stopped but the flood waters rise higher as they journey to the Pass of the Warriors. They are swept away by the current. Valthor reaches the other side and waits for Tarzan who does not appear. By dawn the next day there is still no sign of the ape-man.

Chapter Five — The City of Gold

Tarzan pulls himself from the river to discover a wall. Once over the wall he is quickly surrounded by fifty armed men. A description of Cathnean warriors is given. Tarzan is questioned by nobles who believe that he came to assassinate the Queen, Nemone. In a bow and arrow demonstration Tarzan convinces Gemnon, a nobleman, that he is not from Athne. Tomos, advisor to the Queen, still believes Tarzan to be an enemy and has him locked up. The Jungle Lord shows the guards how to use the bow thus winning their admiration. Tarzan is imprisoned in a dark room with other person. He wonders who it might be.

Chapter Six — The Man Who Stepped on a God

Tarzan examines his cell. The other prisoner is named Phobeg, the strongest man in Cathne, who tells him about the typical fate of the Queen’s prisoners male and female. Phobeg, who once was a temple guard, is to be punished for stepping on god’s tail. The great lion with the black mane has his dinner prevented by rain. In the morning, guards bring Tarzan and Phobeg food. Phobeg proves to be a braggart and a bit dim as Tarzan plays verbal games with him. Tarzan thinks about his early life with Kala, his foster mother, Tublat, Kala’s mate, and Jad-bal-ja, the lion he raised from a cub. He wishes he had brought the Golden Lion with him.

Chapter Seven — Nemone

After many days Tarzan and Phobeg are brought before a panel of nobles. A description of the room is given. Tarzan enrages Tomos by speaking. Gemnon defends Tarzan’s story. The Queen enters the room and everyone kneels except Tarzan. A description of the beautiful Nemone is given. The Queen asks Tarzan why he did not kneel. His answer infuriates Tomos who would have Tarzan killed. Tarzan’s further impudence to Nemone’s questions makes her decide to pit Tarzan against Phobeg in hand to hand combat on the Field of Lions. The victor would win a limited freedom.

Chapter Eight — Upon the Field of Lions

Back in their cell Phobeg plans a ‘show’ for the coming battle in the hopes of amusing the Queen. He plans to kill Tarzan in front of Nemone. Tarzan tells the strong man that Phobeg may be the one killed. The next day they are given a last meal and escorted to the Field of Lions. Nemone and the lion men, hereditary nobles of Cathne, enter the arena via lion drawn chariots. Minor sporting events are followed by lion chariot races. Phobeg brags of Tarzan’s death. Tarzan once again uses sarcasm on him.

Chapter Nine — “Death! Death!”

Betting is heavy with one hundred to one odds against Tarzan. Nemone wagers on Tarzan to win thus forcing the nobles to cover her bets. The ape-man quickly shows his superior fighting skills which enrages Phobeg. Shortly, Tarzan throws the battered Cathnean strong man into the audience. The crowd and Nemone demand Phobeg’s death. Tarzan refuses to comply because he kills only for food or in self-defense. Erot, a nobleman who is the Queen’s favorite, asks Nemone if the guards should destroy Tarzan. Nemone frees Phobeg and has Tarzan sent to the palace. A great lion searches for something or someone south of the Field of Lions.

Chapter Ten — In the Palace of the Queen

Gemnon and other nobles escort Tarzan back into the city. Gemnon expresses amazement that Tarzan lives despite his effrontery to the Queen for refusing to kill Phobeg. Xerstle, Gemnon’s room mate and Erot’s crony, must move out as Tarzan is directed to room with Gemnon. At a common meal of noblemen, Tomos and Erot are insulted by Tarzan’s presence. Tarzan enters the room where the Queen and Erot await. Despite repeated instructions to bow in the presences of the Queen, Tarzan does not bow . Nemone dismisses Erot. Belthar, the Queen’s lion, leaps at the ape-man. The lion is stopped by his chain. Intrigued by the Jungle Lord, Nemone attempts to find out more about him. She would give Tarzan freedom if he would promise to stay in Cathne. Tarzan says nothing. Nemone attempts to seduce Tarzan with offers of honors, power, earthy possessions, and more. They are interrupted by a hag, M’duze, who has an invisible power over Nemone forcing the Queen to follow her. Tarzan is to return to Gemnon’s quarters.

Chapter Eleven — The Lions of Cathne

Gemnon tells Tarzan some of Cathnean history — about M’duze, the black slave rumored to be Nemone’s mother; about the madness of Alextar, the imprisoned rightful king of Cathne and Nemone’s brother; about Tomos’ rise to power and his desire to marry the Queen; about Nemone; and about the intrigues of the Cathnean throne. He finishes his tale with a warning for Tarzan to beware of M’duze, Tomos, Erot, and Nemone. Walking through the streets Gemnon tells Tarzan about the lions of Cathne. A lion is the god of the Cathnean people. They stop and watch a slave being sold. They go to examine the Queen’s lions which are held in a stable. Belthar, the Queen’s lion, once again leaps at Tarzan but is thwarted by the bars of his cage. Gemnon says that the Queen believes she is supernaturally bonded to Belthar.

Chapter Twelve — The Man in the Lion Pit

Tarzan is summoned to the ivory room to meet Nemone. Erot goes to prepare a ‘diversion’ which involves a captured Athnean. Tarzan and Nemone verbally spar as the Queen again attempts to seduce the unwavering Jungle Lord. They go to watch the diversion which is to be a fight between a viscous young lion and the Athnean prisoner. Tarzan grabs Erot’s sword and leaps from the parapet. He saves the prisoner, Valthor, by killing the lion. Nemone panics when Tarzan leaps into the courtyard and sends Gemnon and Erot to help the ape-man. But it is over quickly and Tarzan gives the victory cry of the bull ape. Tarzan forces Nemone to keep her promise to free the prisoner if the lion was killed. Erot sees his position as Nemone’s favorite fading away and considers asking M’duze and Tomos for help in eliminating Tarzan. Gemnon and Valthor are sent to Gemnon’s quarters. The Queen leads Tarzan to her apartment where she plans to be intimate with the him. The door is opened to reveal M’duze in her room. Nemone enters her room alone.

Chapter Thirteen — Assassin in the Night

Without hesitation a great lion keeps searching even though rains have washed away the trail he was following. Erot and Xerstle fret over Tarzan’s influence on Nemone. They plot to rid themselves of the ape-man. Their conversation is overheard by a slave girl. Gemnon takes Tarzan to meet Doria, the love of his life. Doria’s beauty is kept a secret because the Queen kills or disfigures all women who’s beauty may rival her own. On the way they bump into Xerstle who invites Tarzan to a grand hunt. Later Tarzan tells Gemnon that he may be gone before the hunt. Gemnon fears the Queen will kill him if Tarzan escapes because he is responsible for him. From the shadows Phobeg warns Tarzan to beware of Erot - tonight. Gemnon and Tarzan talk with Doria and her father, Thudos. That night an assassin slips into Tarzan’s room and approaches the bed which holds Valthor not Tarzan. The ape-man awakens from the corner of the room and kills the would be assassin. Tarzan throws the dead man out the window.

Chapter Fourteen — The Grand Hunt

Valthor departs for Athne. Gemnon is surprised by the news of the attempted assassination. Summoned to the Queen, Tarzan is questioned about the attempt on his life. It is discovered that the dead assassin once was in the service of Erot. The Queen banishes Erot from the palace and makes threats towards Tomos and Xerstle whom she believes were somehow involved in the attempt on Tarzan’s life. She whispers to Tarzan that it maybe safer for him to take up residence with Gemnon’s father, Thudos. Xerstle says the hunt is ready. He, Tarzan, Gemnon, and Pindes, a former officer of the guard, leave for the hunt. The grand hunt consists of two hunting lions chasing down a slave. Tarzan does not think much of the so-called hunt; therefore, during the hunt he develops a plan. He falls to the back of the party so they would not see him take to the trees. Soon he overtakes the hunted black slave who he convinces to climb into the tree with him.

Chapter Fifteen — The Plot That Failed

Tarzan carries Hafim, the hunted slave, through the trees to the edge of the mountains to freedom. The ape-man promises to tell Hafim’s brother, Niaka, a slave in the gold mines, of his escape. Tarzan returns to the hunt as Xerstle is baffled by the elusiveness of the slave. Tarzan bets Xerstle that the slave will not be found. They separate with Tarzan, Pindes, and one of the hunting lions going in one direction. Gemnon, Xerstle, and the other lion search in other direction. Tarzan and Pindes separate during their search. Pindes sends the hunting lion after Tarzan. The Jungle Lord kills the lion and gives the victory cry of the bull ape. Not understanding the scream, all parties go to investigate. Tarzan appears behind Gemnon’s party. Tarzan suggests, to Pindes’ horror, that he and Pindes should separate to find the lion’s killer. The hunt is abandoned. Back in the city Tarzan tells Xerstle to tell Erot better luck next time.

Chapter Sixteen — In the Temple of Thoos

A messenger brings word that Erot has seen the beauty of Doria. Tarzan says he will intercede with Nemone on Doria’s behalf. Before visiting the Queen, Tarzan, and Gemnon go to the gold mines, The Mine of the Rising Sun. Tarzan tells Niaka of his brother’s escape. Niaka pledges loyalty to the ape-man. The wily Tomos tells Nemone about Doria’s beauty, how Tarzan is smitten by her, and how the jealous Gemnon attempted to assassinate the ape-man. Nemone questions Tarzan and believes his answers. She again tries to seduce the Jungle Lord but Belthar’s roar breaks the mood. Nemone believes she is somehow linked to the lion, Belthar. In a royal procession to the Temple of Thoos, Tarzan unsuccessfully tries to have Gemnon relieved of his duty of being responsible for him. Maluma, Nemone’s hairdresser, tells Phobeg, who is once again a temple guard, about Tomos’ report to the Queen. At the temple a slave girl is dropped to the god Thoos, a mangy, old lion. Tarzan leaves the temple in disgust. Phobeg, who now admires Tarzan because he saved his life, tells Tarzan to meet him later. Nemone satiated by religious frenzy returns to her apartment alone.

Chapter Seventeen — The Secret of the Temple

Maluma talks with Phobeg again. This time they talk about the prisoner beneath the temple (Alextar) and of other things. Gemnon talks to Tarzan about his fear that Nemone may know of the plans to put Alextar on the throne, and she will destroy him. Tarzan leaves Gemnon’s father’s house secretly to meet with Phobeg. The strong man tells Tarzan about the plot to abduct Doria. Tarzan returns to the house to discover that Gemnon has been summoned to the palace. Phobeg comes to tell Tarzan that Gemnon, Doria, Thudos, and their friends have been arrested. Tarzan plans to help them. He goes to the palace and has Nemone awakened. As the Queen embraces Tarzan, M’duze enters and threatens to expose her. Nemone repeatedly stabs M’duze to death. Tarzan intercedes for Gemnon and the others who have been imprisoned. The Queen offers to save them if Tarzan will love her. Headaches causes Nemone to fly into a rage and then calmly pronounces Doria’s death sentence. Doria is to go to Xarotor, the volcano, and Tarzan must watch. The fate of the others, including Tarzan, will depend on how Tarzan treats the Queen.

Chapter Eighteen — Flaming Xarotor

Erot goes to Doria cell and delights in telling her about Gemnon’s fate. His task is to tie her up in a bag in which she will be thrown into the volcano, but first he attempts to rape her. A growl from the window sends him running. A great procession readies for the sixteen mile journey to Xarotor in the Valley of Onthar. They finally reach the volcano, Xarotor, which the Cathnean people believe was created by their god, Thoos. After a religious ceremony, the body bag is raised to be thrown into the crater. Gemnon and Thudos show little emotion. In an attempt to create more anxiety in them Nemone has the bag cut open. To everyone’s surprise the body in the bag is the dead Erot.

Chapter Nineteen — The Queen’s Quarry

On the way back to Cathne, Nemone seethes with rage and promises a horrible death for Doria, Gemnon, and Thudos for their effrontery. In Cathne, Tomos is sent to search for Doria. Nemone, once again, attempts to seduce Tarzan. Once again he refuses. In a mad rage the Queen has Tarzan thrown in a cell with Gemnon and Thudos. Nemone’s weeping turns into maniacal laughter. Tarzan tells Gemnon and Thudos about Doria’s escape and that she is safe with Niaka at the gold mine. He further relates the occurrences of the grand hunt. In the morning Tarzan is chained about the neck and brought to the Field of Lions. Nemone and Tarzan talk. She offers him a chance to save himself. Tarzan would rather take his chances with the lion. The hunting lion is Belthar. Tarzan shows no fear. This angers Nemone. A corridor of spearman is set up. Walking down the gantlet of spearmen Tarzan wonders if he can make it across the river to the trees. At his hundredth step Belthar is released. Realizing he won’t make it, Tarzan turns to face the charging lion. Suddenly, Jad-bal-ja, Tarzan’s friend, the golden lion with the black mane, appears and kills Belthar. The distraught Nemone commits suicide. Alextar is made king. The dungeons are emptied. Tarzan buries Nemone.

End