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ERB Summary Project


Edgar Rice Burroughs


Raghunath Jafar

Zora Drinov)

Comrade Peter Zveri

Miguel Romero

Abu Batn

Antonio (Tony) Mori



Wayne Colt

To-yat - mangani

Ga-yat - mangani

Zu-tho - mangani


Wamala - Zora's servant

Kahiya - head askaris

Oah - high priestess of Opar


Michael Dorsky

Paul Ivitch

Dooth - Oparian priest

Darus - Oparian priest

Ibn Dammuk


Nao - Oparian priestess


Bukula - black porter




Firg - Oparian priest

Mulungo - god of a native tribe

Ras Tafari - emperor of Abyssinia

Tarzan the Invincible

Summarized by
Duane Adams


The working title, Tarzan and the Man Things, was published as a seven-part serial in The Blue Book Magazine, October 1930 through April 1931 as Tarzan, Guard of the Jungle. It is Burroughs thirty-sixth hardback book and is the first hardback published by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Grosset & Dunlap, Tarzana, Ace, and Ballantine have done reprints. Information obtained from Robert B. Zeuschner's The Exhaustive Scholar's and Collector's Descriptive Bibliography.

A few words from the ERBList Summary Project Managing Editor:

Tarzan the Invincible is one of the few "dated" tales of Tarzan. The political commentary so deeply embedded in the story is important only to those who read ERB between 1917-1980 when the United States and Russia were in an active state of "Cold War." When the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ceased to be front page news--and a decade or two passed--the underlying premise of Invincible has as much punch as the similarly dated James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.

Edgar Rice Burroughs strenuously preached nationalism and awareness of the "Communist Threat" in Tarzan the Invincible, but that sermon now falls on mostly deaf ears at the beginning of the Second Millennium. Young readers these days have no concept of the war of ideologies that existed between the US and the (then) USSR from 1917 to 1982.

Those of us who lived through those times have no regrets the times have changed. We continue to hope the times will become better; yet, it must be stated that it was the conflict of REAL WORLD international politics which became the heart and soul of Tarzan the Invincible. I have found it difficult to explain that dynamic to a neighbor's 12 year old daughter who is reading the books at my suggestion.

She loves the Tarzan character. The books interest her greatly, but Invincible seemed surreal (my observation since she could not quite state what puzzled her). Her first question when she returned the book was "What is a Communist?"

Future generations may have the same question. Those of us who know the historical references as real life can answer that question. Unfortunately, today's school books do not address those differences realistically; yet, I have little doubt the basic story of adventure and conflict as presented in Tarzan the Invincible will continue to entertain, regardless of how lax or inaccurate the history books are in today's schools.

— David Bruce Bozarth

David A. Adams

Chapter One — Little Nkima

The narrator (ERB) states he has hidden a political message of international intrigue in the story. Nkima escapes a larger monkey's pursuit. Tarzan had left the tiny monkey with friends, but Nkima leaves to search for Tarzan. He senses white and black men and investigates their campsite. That all carry rifles means nothing to the little Manu. Two Russians, Zora Drinov and Comrade Zveri, an East Indian, Raghunath Jafar, and a Mexican, Miguel Romero, discuss world communism while waiting for an American named Colt. An Arab, Sheik Abu Batn, joins them. Zora suggests they get gold from Opar, but Comrade Zveri wants the prestige of an American on their side--plus the gold of Opar. Zveri exerts his authority by pulling a revolver on the disgruntled Romero. Zora defuses the situation. Bored with the campsite, Nkima continues his search for Tarzan, passing a second safari which includes Tony Mori, a Filipino talking to the leader about Philippine independence. A lion's roar sends Nkima scampering. The lion looks at the monkey and purrs. Nkima crawls onto Numa's back.

Chapter Two — The Hindu

Kitembo, chief of the Basembos, organizes the askaris. Zveri chooses a base camp away from Tarzan, who is reported to be on a dirigible expedition (Tarzan At The Earth's Core). Kitembo hates the British and is using Zveri to help drive them out of the area. Abu Batn is there for the same reason. Their destination is Opar. Zora, Jafar, and a handful of askaris remain at the base camp. The Hindu suggests to Zora she forgets Zveri and become his lover. Zora threatens him, fearfully retiring to her tent. The two separate parties move toward Opar. As Nkima and the golden lion travel, a nearby group of mangani, including To-yat, Ga-yat, and Zu-tho, become agitated. Tarzan drops into the midst of the apes. They are consumed by the scent of Numa and fail to recognize Tarzan. The lion enters the clearing, the apes scatter, and Nkima tells Tarzan about the strange safaris. Tarzan asks the apes to keep watch on the strange men. He will also investigate. The next day Jafar sends the askaris and Zora's servant on a hunt so that he will be alone with Zora. Kahiya physically forces Wamala, Zora's servant, to accompany them. As Colt pushes through the jungle to meet up with Zveri, Tarzan and Nkima watch from the trees. Jafar enters Zora's tent and makes advances. Zora fights him off, to no avail.

Chapter Three — Out of the Grave

Colt and his party arrive at the deserted camp. The American saves Zora from a fate worse than death. Tarzan and Nkima observe from the trees. Zora explains Zveri is on a short expedition. Colt instructs his men to make camp and protect Zora. Tarzan and Nkima watch Jafar slip out of the camp with a rifle. Jafar fires at Colt and misses. Colt and his men enter the jungle and find Jafar dead, an arrow through the heart. Colt informs Zora; the American's men are nervous about the mysterious arrow. Jafar is buried. The askaris return from their hunt. Tarzan eavesdrops on Colt and Zora. Zora tells Colt why she became a communist: to embroil the capitalistic powers in wars and revolution that can't be stopped, and a plan to start war between France and Italy by having Communists disguised as French officers invading Italian Somaliland. Zora tells Colt that Zveri is after Opar's gold. Tarzan retrieves Jafar's body and drops it onto a table where the two whites are sitting, demoralizing the camp.

Chapter Four — Into The Lion's Den

Tarzan and Nkima leave to find the Opar expedition, arriving at Opar before Zveri and his men. A description of the Oparians is given. Tarzan approaches Opar confidently. Fearful, Nkima leaves Tarzan before he pushes open the door to the temple of The Flaming God. Tarzan is knocked unconscious, is bound, and carried to Oah, high priestess of The Flaming God. Oah states that La is dead and Tarzan will be sacrificed to The Flaming God. Tarzan is placed in a dungeon, but they fail to notice his hunting knife. He pulls the bars out of the small window in the door. With the aid of his knife he is able to inch the locking bar from its housing. Traveling up a corridor to freedom, Tarzan is spotted by six priests. Armed with cudgels, they advance. Tarzan enters another passageway ending in a barred room. Numa roars and charges the ape-man.

Chapter Five — Before the Walls of Opar

Zveri, Kitembo, and a few fighting men climb the cliff guarding Opar. Nkima and other eyes watch their approach to the ruined Atlantian city. A scream stops Abu Batn and his thôb (men) climbing a crevice. The screams of a little monkey cause the blacks to desert. Zveri sends Dorsky to gather the cowards. Zveri, Romero, and Ivitch find an opening to the city and are met by a hideous scream. They leave the area but Romero is not with them. Romero enters the city and is confronted by a hundred armed savages. He leaves to discover the expedition descending the cliff. Romero catches up at the campsite and reports. The blacks and the Arabs will not go back. They fear demons. Romero suggests waiting for Colt, six white men could take the city. Zveri is not sure. Zora notices Colt sending a message to the coast. Zveri's party returns to the base camp to relate their stories. Zveri expresses his jealousy of Colt to Zora. He declares an intent to be Emperor of Africa. He threatens to kill Zora if she betrays him. The next day they plan a second assault on Opar. Abu Batn, his men, and a few servants are left in camp with Zora. As the expedition leaves for the lost city, Abu Batn eyes Zora.

Chapter Six — Betrayed

Tarzan opens the door. The lion charges the Oparian priests. Tarzan closes the door. A woman's voice asks him who he is. Tarzan and La recognize each other's voices. La relates how Oah overthrew her. She also tells how the lion is lured into a small corridor so they can feed her. Tarzan explores this tunnel and finds a vertical shaft. La reports the Oparians are returning. Tarzan helps La climb the shaft. At the top they make plans. La and Tarzan speak of their relationship. La wants to kill Oah and Dooth, the high priest. Someone climbs the other tunnel ladder. As his head comes into view, Tarzan grabs the old man by the throat and pulls him into the room. It is Darus, an old priest loyal to La. She instructs Darus to gather her followers in the throne room and to strike when she kills Oah. Tarzan and La sneak to the throne room. As La and Tarzan leap onto the dais, priests surround them. Tarzan snaps the neck of a priest and throws him into the oncoming priests. They run for the outer walls of Opar. When the sun sets the Oparians give up the chase. Tarzan and La sleep in a tree. At dawn, Tarzan leaves to hunt. La wakes, starts for Opar, but then strikes out on her own. A storm approaches. A beast follows La.

Chapter Seven — In Futile Search

After the storm a leopard approaches La. A lion kills the leopard. La doesn't recognize Jad-bal-ja. She walks past the lion and into the forest. Tarzan discovers La gone. He follows her trail towards Opar. At Opar Tarzan spies Zveri's expedition approaching and pushes rocks down on them. Colt and Romero climb as the askaris fire rifles at the summit. Tarzan withdraws and watches. Confident they won't find the gold of Opar, Tarzan leaves to search for La. Back at the base camp Tarzan decides to wait until dark to search the camp for La. Abu Batn and his men discuss plundering the camp and selling Zora. They lack enthusiasm for Zveri's cause. La stumbles into camp. Zora speaks to La in different languages to no avail. Zora protects La from the Arabs. Abu Batn plans to sell La also. That night Tarzan searches the camp for La. As the guard goes to wake his relief, Tarzan grabs him. Tarzan carries the kicking and screaming guard over the boma into the jungle. The others catch a glimpse as Tarzan leaps the boma. A hideous cry comes from the jungle. They fear a demon has taken their comrade. The victory cry was to demoralize the askaris. Tarzan strips and binds his captive, loosely. His escape and return would be more terrifying than killing him. Tomorrow Tarzan will look for La near Opar.

Chapter Eight — The Treachery of Abu Batn

Easily distracted, Nkima drifts towards Waziri country to bring help for Tarzan. One night he hears the sounds of a Dum-Dum. He witnesses the apes of To-yat dancing and clubbing the body of sheeta. Interrupting the dance Nkima calls for To-yat, Ga-yat, and Zu-tho to follow him to save Tarzan. To-yat sends a young ape to kill Nkima. Nkima flees. Zora and La wake and prepare for the day. Zora, Wamala and two porters leave to hunt. Ibn Dammuk, son of a sheykh, watches, then he and two others approach La, who distrusts them. Dammuk touches her shoulder. La leaps up. Dammuk retreats, but his henchman, Dogman, steps forward. La knifes Dogman. Abu Batn inquires, Dammuk explains. Abu Batn instructs his men to bind La and be ready to leave when Zora returns. La kills another Arab before she is overpowered. The Arabs ransack the camp for valuables. When Zora returns with deer meat, the Arabs capture her party, and whatever they can not carry is burned. Marching towards slavery, Zora teaches English to La. Ibn Dammuk lusts after La. At the edge of Galla country the group waits for a river flood to recede.

Chapter Nine — In the Death Cell of Opar

Romero and Colt enter the city. Screams from within stop the blacks from following. When Zveri, Dorsky, Ivitch, and Mori arrive, Romero and Colt are out of sight. As they reach the inner wall war cries and gun shots are heard. Despite Zveri's commands, the party halts as they try to decide if they should help Colt and Romero or leave. Meanwhile, Colt and Romero enter the temple. The Oparians attempt to surround them as they open fire. A club fells Colt. Romero retreats to Zveri's company. Zveri declares the situation hopeless. The Oparians bind Colt and carry him to the throne room. Oah sentences Colt to death. Colt's presence enraptures Nao, an Oparian priestess. He is thrown into a cell, where he views the bloodstained altar and his fate. Someone approaches the cell. Back at the main camp Zveri and the others are told of the demon who took the sentry. The next day they leave for the base camp. Nkima shouts insults as they pass. Tarzan cannot find La, he meets with Tantor, where Nkima finds them. Nkima tells Tarzan about the Tarmangani and Gomangani. Tarzan investigates. He easily overtakes the party and notices Colt is not with them. That evening he mimics the Oparian war cry, which spreads fear throughout the camp. He leaves the area.

Chapter Ten — The Love of a Priestess

Dammuk schemes to get La. Zora and La's sentry, Hajellan, leaves his post. Bukula, one of Zveri's porters, whispers through the tent that he can help them escape. He will take La into the jungle and return for Zora. When he doesn't return Zora becomes fearful. An Arab enters the tent and demands to know where Hajellan is. A cry goes out for Hajellan. Abu Batn asks if the women are in their tent. The reply is yes. The sheykh notices Dammuk is missing as well as Fodil and Dareyem. Abu Batn believes Dammuk has deserted. Bukula leads La into the trap. With La in tow, Dammuk pushes deep into the jungle. He fears Abu Batn's wrath. Dammuk's lust overcomes him. He attempts rape, La kills Dammuk with his own knife. La hurries into the jungle. Elsewhere, Nao brings Colt food. Via sign language she warns he is to be sacrificed. Since he managed to send a message to the coast, Colt believes he can die with no regrets. Firg, a lesser priest and keeper of the keys, sleeps. A figure enters Firg's room and searches for the keys. Firg awakens, but a dagger pierces his heart. Colt wakes to the sound of the lock turning. Nao leads him to the inner wall of the city. She gives him hugs, kisses, and her knife. Colt leaves Opar.

Chapter Eleven — Lost in the Jungle

A dispirited party arrives at the burned out base camp. From the trees Tarzan wonders what happened. Zveri organizes his men to rebuild the camp, hunt for food, and dispatch messages for supplies. Abu Batn's spies report that Galla warriors will attempt to stop them from passing through their territory. Because of La's escape Zora is heavily guarded. Zveri is unsure if Zora's disappearance is not a betrayal. Nkima, easily distracted, continues on his mission. Colt becomes lost, but develops survival skills. A noise prompts him to take to the trees. Hearing voices, he goes to investigate. He stops Abu Batn from attacking Zora. A fight ensues, Colt stabs Abu Batn in the throat. Grabbing weapons, Colt and Zora head into the jungle. They climb a large tree, relating their stories. Zora wants to return to the base camp, and questions Colt's commitment to the cause. They hear voices. The Arabs have been tracking them and suspect they are heading for the base camp. The couple sleep in the trees. A lion's roar wakes Colt from a dream in which Nao turns into Zora. Zora asks to whom he was saying "I love you." Colt is not sure.

Chapter Twelve — Down Trails of Terror

Fatigued and hungry, Colt and Zora struggle toward the camp. Zora realizes her love for the American. Colt leaves Zora to hunt for food. Sometime later he brings down an antelope. Zora leaves the tree for water. She thinks she hears Colt returning, but it is To-yat who appears. To-yat knocks the pistol from Zora's hand and carries her off. Colt returns with the antelope to discover Zora missing. He finds To-yat's tracks. Enraged, he follows the spoor. Meanwhile, La travels towards Opar. She meets Jad-bal-ja on the trail and walks up to him. Hajellan and his men come upon the scene. La commands Jad-bal-ja to kill. Jad-bal-ja crunches Hajellan's head. The Arabs flee in terror. La goes up the trail. The lion follows. Zveri's messenger witnesses La and Jad-bal-ja walking down the path. He prays to Mulungo, god of his people, and takes a different path. Tarzan watches Zveri's camp. He knows their plans. Elsewhere, Colt loses To-yat and Zora's trail. To-yat crashes through the jungle with his prize. Tarzan senses the mangani and a she. He drops in front of To-yat and demands her release. When To-yat refuses Tarzan draws his knife. To-yat throws Zora aside. They circle each other. Tantor senses Tarzan's presence and charges into the clearing. To-yat flees.

Chapter Thirteen — The Lion-Man

Zveri's plans for the invasion of Italian Somaliland press forward. He also plans to overthrow Ras Tafari in Abyssinia. He wants to become Peter I, Emperor of Africa. The training of the men goes smoothly until the report of a white woman with a lion reaches camp. A message is brought to Zveri, which reports that native warriors armed with modern weapons are approaching, accompanied by a monkey. Tarzan is relieved he need not fight To-yat. Tarzan recognizes Zora. Tantor clears a path to the river and carries them across. Zora wakes and wonders if she is dreaming because a demigod carries her. She speaks, but he doesn't answer. Tarzan leaves Tantor to guard the woman. He returns and builds a small enclosure. He leaves again and returns with deer meat, which he cooks for her. Tarzan dismisses Tantor. In the morning Zora feels secure until she sees her savior eat raw meat. She comes to think of him as a lion-man, her lion-man. Tarzan feeds Zora again and calls into the jungle. After eating, she speaks to him in many different languages. Tarzan does not answer. Tantor enters the area. This pattern goes on for days. Elsewhere, Colt, exhausted and crawling, looks up to see a great lion looking at him.

Chapter Fourteen — Shot Down

Tarzan watches the camp don French Colonial uniforms. Zora walks into the clearing. Tantor places her back in the shelter. Tarzan returns and speaks to Tantor, who carries them across a river. Tantor departs. Tarzan brings Zora to Zveri's base camp. Ivitch returning to camp, shoots what he thinks is a leopard; Tarzan, wounded, falls at Zora's feet. Meanwhile, Colt believes he is hallucinating when a woman runs toward the lion; he faints. Waking, La helps Colt to her campsite, where La discovers they both know Zora. La introduces herself as a priestess of The Flaming God. Colt thinks it expedient not to tell her of his experiences in Opar. La tells him that he must rest. Zora berates Ivitch for shooting Tarzan. She explains to Zveri that this man saved her life. A black recognizes Tarzan. Fearing Tarzan will spoil his plans, Zveri draws his pistol. Zora shields Tarzan and tells Zveri she will kill him if Tarzan is murdered. Alone, Zora threatens to expose Zveri's Emperor of Africa ambition. He promises not to kill Tarzan and shows her a message from a traitor. Zveri states they will start their march tomorrow. Zora relates her story but leaves out Colt's connection. Zveri tries to think of a way to keep his promise; yet, have Tarzan killed.

Chapter Fifteen — Kill, Tantor, Kill

The next morning they depart. Zveri leaves Dorsky and others to guard the base camp and to dispose of Tarzan. On the five hundred mile march Zveri daydreams of being Emperor. Tarzan wakes and senses the men in camp and Tantor nearby. He calls to the pachyderm. The blacks fear the sound. Dorsky pulls his revolver and approaches Tarzan's tent. He speaks to Tarzan, who doesn't answer. A black is called to speak to him. Tarzan doesn't respond. Dorsky issues an ultimatum of five minutes. Meanwhile, Nkima rides on Muviro's back but soon leaves. In camp, Dorsky demands Tarzan lead them to the Oparian treasure, threatening with a knife. Tarzan breaks the man's wrist with his teeth. Dorsky's men hear the scream and rush to the rescue. The tent around them disappears. Tarzan shouts. "Kill, Tantor, Kill!" The elephant throws and tramples the Russian. The blacks flee into the jungle. Tantor carries the bound ape-man into the jungle. Tarzan calls for the great apes. He sends Tantor for water. Nkima heard Tarzan's call, but so did dango, who arrives first. Nkima attempts to untie the knots as Tarzan's roars thwart dango's attacks. On the fourth charge Tarzan breaks his bonds and chokes the hyena to death. Tantor returns to trample the dead hyena.

Chapter Sixteen — Turn Back!

La nurses Colt's fever. Tarzan returns to the base camp for weapons. Tarzan and Nkima return to Zveri's camp. Tarzan wastes no time, he puts an arrow into the leg of a sentry. Kitembo states it is the same type of arrow which felled the Hindu. The thought of a demon makes the men fearful. Elsewhere, the mood is cheerful in the Waziri camp. Tarzan joins them and explains his plan. Meanwhile, Romero and Mori are disillusioned with Zveri's growing self-importance. Kitembo tells Zveri the arrow in the trail is a warning to turn back. Zveri presses onwards. A voice cuts through the forest telling the Bantu to desert. Zveri berates Kitembo to force his men to continue. The sounds of Oparian war cries are heard. The fear is great, but they continue. Zora tells Zveri he has created a Frankenstein. Again the voice calls for desertion. The officers use their revolvers to keep them moving. In a clearing rifle shots greet the column. Romero deploys his men. Zveri takes a rear position. A last warning is heard. In the firefight Romero's men drop fast. His command to charge results in wholesale desertion. Alone, Romero is forced to retreat into the jungle where he finds Zora. He confesses that he doesn't like Zveri and the Russian has bragged about marrying her. This is news to Zora.

Chapter Seventeen — A Gulf That Was Bridged

Zora and Romero enter the camp. The Basembo mutiny, but an arrow through the chest of a warrior stops them. Kitembo states that they are leaving and taking Zora with them. Kitembo grabs Zora. An arrow pierces his chest. A voice tells them to go home and leave the whites alone. They leave. Romero tells Zveri that it is his lack of understanding the native psychology that caused their downfall. Zveri calls him a traitor. Elsewhere, Tarzan and the Waziri march toward Opar to punish Oah and Dooth. Meanwhile, Colt, La, and Jad-bal-ja find the base camp. La leaves to regain her throne. The camp is glad to see Colt. Tarzan and the Waziri catch up to La and Jad-bal-ja. La brings Tarzan up to date. As they enter Opar, the Oparians recognize them and plead for mercy. Oah and Dooth are killed. A feast is given for La. Tarzan and the Waziri leave. Zveri's party reaches the base camp. Zveri calls Colt a traitor and tries to shoot him. Zveri is shot in the back by Zora, to revenge her parent's death. She has pretended to be a communist to disrupt his plans. Tarzan enters the camp and says he will guide Zora to civilization. Zora says that Romero and Mori have recanted and that Colt is an American government agent. Ivitch is kicked out of Africa. Colt and Zora profess their love.