ERB Summary Project Son of Tarzan, Summarized

EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar

Summarized by
Members of ERBList

Edited by
David A. Adams
Introduction by
David Bruce Bozarth

Introduction

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar first appeared in the November and December issues of All-Story Cavalier Weekly in 1916. The first book publication by McClurg in 1918 was a (then) princely 50,000 copy print run. Jewels of Opar was later reprinted by McClurg in 1919 before the first A. L. Burt reprint that same year. Grosset & Dunlap had at least 5 printings between 1927 and 1950 before Ace and Ballantine reprinted the title in 1963 during the great ERB paperback reprint wars. An intricately plotted novel, Jewels of Opar was one of several ERB novels bowlderized by Ballantine in the 1960s for political correctness. The text changes introduced do not detract from the story of Tarzan's first of many bouts with amnesia.

Jewels of Opar appeared early in American film as "Tarzan the Tiger" starring Tarzan the Tiger Frank Merrill (as Tarzan) and Natalie Kingston (as Jane) and Lillian Worth (perhaps the best image of La other than J Allen St. John!). This 1929 film serial adaptation is amazingly true to the original ERB novel.

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar has significant ramifications as regards the Tarzan Saga of 26 books and many years. The first three Tarzan novels, Tarzan of the Apes, Return of Tarzan, and Beasts of Tarzan constitute a single whole, a tale well and truly told. ERB could have stopped at this juncture and his ape-man might have enjoyed approximately the same fame as we know to this day.

Son of Tarzan was an attempt to meet reader and editor demands for more Tarzan tales (1915 in writing, 1916 in publication); yet, Burroughs was suffused by the success of his stories and editor demands for more--as well as a burning desire to capitalize on his works--ERB wrote Jewels of Opar in 1915 as an extension of his already proven Tarzan stories.

Jewels of Opar appears to be an experiment in plot, characterization, and misdirection. Burroughs rarely (never?) lied to the readers. His characters were placed in situations extreme, such as Tarzan's amnesia, and we eagerly devoured the stories anxiously awaiting the resolution. Edgar Rice Burroughs had a knack, a SKILL, in his ability to involve the reader in the adversities of his characters. The significant ramifications suggested above are these:

In Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar Burroughs finally hits full stride his now famous writing formula of cliff-hanger action chapter-to-chapter and book to book. We can view this success two ways: Glad and comfortable, knowing there's a good story to be told, or glad (because we love ERB and are willing to forgive) the formula works, or as literary critics disappointed ERB rides a One-Trick-Pony. The one thing that DID occur when Burroughs wrote Jewels of Opar is the author's realization that any subsquent books should stand alone. Any Tarzan (or Barsoom, etc.) story told after 1916 should be generally complete for the reader and does not require knowledge of prior works. Burroughs had settled in for the long run, the write-until-I-die, and write he did!

CHARACTERS

Lieutenant Albert Werper (alias M. Jules Frecoult)

Achmet Zek, the Arab

John Clayton, Lord Greystoke - Tarzan, Munango-Keewati

Lady Greystoke, Jane Clayton

Waziri warriors

Witch-doctor of Mbonga’s village

La

Priests of the Flaming God

Basuli, Waziri chief

Mugambi

Cadj

Taglat

Chulk

Abdul Mourak

Mohammed Beyd

PLACES

Belgium

Greystoke estate

Opar

THINGS

Bara, the deer

Numa, the lion (Simba)

Buto, the rhino

Tantor, the elephant

Chapter 1 - Belgian and Arab

(David Adams)

Lieutenant Albert Werper, a Belgian, has been in the Congo for six months. He had deserved to be court-martialed, but instead he is brooding in an Africa post. He has killed his captain and a black guard, and fleeing into the jungle he is found by Achmet Zek, the Arab, an enemy of the Belgians. Werper joins these ivory and slave raiders. He agrees to help Achmet Zek kidnap Jane for ransom. Disguised as a white hunter, Werper heads out for the Greystoke estate.

Chapter 2 - On the Road to Opar

(David Adams)

The disguise of M Jules Frecoult works, and Greystoke welcomes him into his home, offering guides to help this “lost hunter.” Werper overhears Greystoke’s financial problems and his plans to return to Opar for treasure. Werper leaves and feigns illness, sending Tarzan’s Waziri guard back (and a letter to Achmet Zek) then follows Tarzan party to Opar. (ERB presents a little essay on civilization vs. Nature.) Tarzan eats raw meat.

Chapter 3 - The Call of the Jungle

(David Adams)

An insomniac Tarzan leaves the camp at night and kills a deer (Bara). He drives away a man-eating lion, then saves a black witch-doctor from the same Numa. The witch-doctor remembers Tarzan when he was a boy -- a jungle god.

Chapter 4 - Prophecy and Fulfillment

(David Adams)

The old man tells Tarzan that he is Mbonga’s witch-doctor and remembers when he was the forest god - Munango-Keewati. As a reward for saving his life he gives Tarzan the prophecy that he will be struck down by a god greater than himself if he does not turn back. He sees more, but dies before he can reveal it. Werper hears the victory cry of the bull ape. He almost turns back, but by the next night he follows Tarzan up the granite kopje to the secret entrance to the treasure vaults of Opar. Tarzan inspects the gold and finds it untouched since his last visit. When Tarzan leaves to get his warriors, Werper sneaks into the vault. Tarzan pulls the 50 Waziri up the kopje (having previously carried 48 ingots to the edge.) Together they bring out 52 more ingots, making a total of 100. Tarzan pauses in the vault to ponder his first visit there and is struck by a rock torn loose by an earthquake.

Chapter 5 - The Altar of the Flaming God

(David Adams)

Werper discovers Tarzan knocked unconscious and that he is trapped inside the vault. He makes his way by candlelight down the tunnels and leaps over an open well. Werper comes to a wall and pulls the stones out to make a passage. His candle burns out, so he sleeps, but upon awakening goes on to the altar room where he is captured by the priests of the Flaming God. Just as he is about to be sacrificed by La, a lion comes into the room. La faints.

Chapter 6 - The Arab Raid

(David Adams)

Basuli and the Waziri search the rubble for Tarzan but discontinue the search when they come to one of their two missing warriors crushed in the fall. They head back to Jane with the gold. Achmet Zek and his renegades attack the Greystoke estate, stoutly defended by Mugambi and the Waziri warriors not on the expedition with Tarzan. Outnumbered, all the warriors are killed (Mugambi the last one shot by Achmet Zek himself as he protects his mistress) and Jane is taken into captivity. The raiders steal the horses and cattle, then burn the house to the ground. Mugambi survives and thinks only of Revenge!

Chapter 7 - The Jewel-Room of Opar

(David Adams)

Tarzan awakens in utter darkness in the treasure chamber beneath Opar. He has lost his memory of the accident and indeed of his very self. He searches for a way out and falls into the well trap. He finds a corridor on the level of the surface of the water and walks along it to a chamber filled with chests of jewels. He fills his pouch with what he considers to be “pretty pebbles.” Tarzan walks up a rising corridor and enters the temple just in time to spear the lion and save Werper and La. Werper recognizes him.

Chapter 8 The Escape From Opar

(David Adams)

La is happy to see Tarzan, but he remembers nothing of his past. He tells La he is leaving with Werper, and she calls her Guardian Priests. Tarzan disarms La, hands her sacrificial knife to Werper, and they escape by means of the priests terror of the sacred knife. Tarzan wants to pause and challenge one of the Great Apes, but Werper persuades him to go. That night Werper sees Tarzan’s “pretty pebbles.”

Chapter 9: The Theft of the Jewels

(David Adams)

Tarzan and Werper converse in French. He wants to see the jewels, but Tarzan growls at him. Werper thinks the Englishman is a dangerous maniac. Tarzan’s Waziri warriors pass by, but Tarzan does not know them. He wants to kill them because a black man killed Kala. Werper persuades Tarzan to follow the Waziri to lead them home again. When they arrive at the familiar vista, Tarzan still does not know where he is, but Werper is surprised to see that the Greystoke estate has been destroyed. The Waziri are angry and decide to follow the Arabs trail for revenge and to rescue ‘Lady’ Jane. First they bury the gold on the grounds of the estate while Werper and Tarzan watch from reeds along the river. In imitation of the natives, Tarzan buries the jewels as Werper feigns sleep. When Tarzan falls asleep, Werper digs up the jewels and stands over the ape-man with the knife of the High Priestess.

Chapter 10: Achmet Zek Sees the Jewels

(David Adams)

In the clutches of Achmet Zek, Jane is confident that Tarzan will rescue her. After many difficulties, Werper makes his way to the Arabs walled camp. Mugambi arrives at the same time and sees him enter the Arab stronghold. He knows this white man as betrayed them to the Arabs. Werper tells Achmet Zek of the buried gold and suggests that he take Jane to the slavers in the North while they pick up the gold. Alone in his tent, Werper looks at the jewels, but Achmet Zek comes in and sees them. Werper flees in the night and the Arabs follow. Mugambi kills a guard and slips into Jane’s tent but finds she is gone!

CHAPTER 11: Tarzan Becomes a Beast Again

By Bob Zeuschner

Werper prepares to stab Tarzan, but realizes that unless the first blow kills him instantly, a seriously wounded Tarzan could kill him easily. He hears padded footsteps nearby, so turns and flees into the jungle. Oblivious, Tarzan remains asleep as the lion surveys the scene. As it begins its charge, Tarzan awakes, springing to his feet, and spooked, the lion turns and returns to the jungle reeds. Noting Werper's disappearance, Tarzan does not care. From the trees he watches the activity of Basuli and the Waziri with no memories of them. His only memories are of Kala, Tublat, Terkoz, Kerchak, and Neeta. Tarzan finds food, engages in a growling match with a pride of lions at the edge of a river, and barely escapes the charge of Buto, the rhino.

CHAPTER 12: La Seeks Vengeance

By Bob Zeuschner

Without a thought about his past or future, Tarzan lazily spends the next day sleeping and eating. Meanwhile, La and fifty frightful crooked men march in search of the one who stole the sacrificial knife. La has never been outside the walls of Opar before, but the sacred knife has to be found, and she hopes to find Tarzan. Tarzan has scorned her twice, but La knows she is beautiful -- and she also knows she has to mate with one of the hairy gnarled priests as tradition demands. She loves the godlike Tarzan in a way that transcends custom, duty and religious zeal. La was the offspring of a thousand generations of high priestesses, and her love has been transformed into jealousy, hatred and a burning desire for revenge. Using three great apes to track Tarzan's spoor, they finally locate and surprise him in the late afternoon, asleep on a branch. The three apes leap on him, knocking him to the ground, and then fifty crooked priests leap on him. Although many are injured, Tarzan is finally subdued and bound.

CHAPTER XIII: Condemned To Torture and Death

By Bob Zeuschner

The sacred knife is not found on Tarzan. He explains Werper has it, but has disappeared during the nighttime. Bound and helpless, Tarzan is confined while the priests build an altar for the morning's sacrifice. La vacillates between vengeance and love. She throws her body on Tarzan, caresses and kisses him, begging for his love. La falls asleep on Tarzan, who sleeps peacefully in her embrace. The next morning Tarzan is laid on the altar. The priests line up with goblets to capture his life's blood. La, with knife in hand, once again offers her love. "Even in the face of the anger of my people, I will save you." Tantor trumpets in the distance. Tarzan utters a weird scream and tells La that Tantor is coming and that Tantor is "in must" and in the beast's temporary sexual insanity will destroy everyone, including Tarzan. He tells La to cut his bonds and he will save her from certain death. La tells the priests to run. She cuts Tarzan's ropes. The high priest Cadj screams "Traitor," attacking La. Tarzan lifts Cadj, throwing him into the oncoming crowd of priests.

CHAPTER 14: A Priestess But Yet A Woman

By Bob Zeuschner

La is thrilled as Tarzan carries her through the trees. At a safe distance Tarzan returns to the ground. He instructs La to summon the remaining priests. He tells the angry priests he has saved La and they should forgive her and return to Opar. Cadj, jealous of La's love of Tarzan, is opposed. Tarzan suggests the priests band together to defeat Cadj, which they do. Cadj and others promise to return to Opar and no harm will befall La. Tarzan says he will return to ensure she has not been harmed. "La will be there to greet thee," she says. "Tell me that you will come!" Tarzan replies, "Who knows?" Tarzan returns to the jungle. A day later he remembers his pretty pebbles. They are not where he buried them. Tarzan realizes Werper has the pebbles. Werper's trail is two days old. Tarzan sees Waziri warriors gathering to attack Achmet Zek but does not recognize them. Tarzan comes to the village of the Arab raider. At nightfall he enters the village. Tarzan finds the hut with Werper's scent. Werper is not there. Tarzan follows the scent to another hut, discovering a very familiar female odor. Feeling a jealous rage, though he cannot recall Jane's identity, he follows the spoor of the Belgian and the woman to the palisade wall, and then into the jungle beyond.

CHAPTER 15: The Flight of Werper

By Bob Zeuschner

Werper enters Jane Clayton's hut. The hut is empty. Werper observes poles laid against the palisade and realizes Lady Greystoke has escaped. He follows, hoping Jane will someday return his passion. Miles south, Jane Clayton is treed by a prowling lioness. Werper travels all night. He hears a horse approaching. Hiding, he sees a mounted Arab; meanwhile, a hunting lion attacks horse and rider. The Arab is killed. Werper mounts the frightened horse and flees. Tarzan, following Werper's scent, discovers a lion feasting on a human body. He kills the lion and searches for his bag of pretty pebbles. Deciding the bag must be in the Arab village, the ape-man returns there. Meanwhile, Mugambi proceeds east along the trail, searching for Jane. Mugambi is captured by a detachment of Abyssinian soldiers shortly after Werper is captured. Mugambi recognizes Tarzan's pouch around Werper's waist, and that it contains jewels. The next morning Werper discovers Mugambi has escaped. Werper feels for the bag. To his relief, he feels the bag and the stones it contains.

Chapter 16: Tarzan Again Leads the Mangani

(David Oxford)

Searching for Jane, Achmet Zek and his men see Jane pursued into a clearing by apes. She flees directly into the arms of the Arabs. Tarzan drops into the scene. Calling to the apes, Tarzan charges the Arabs. An Arab rifle volley kills one ape and wounds Tarzan and another ape. Startled by gunfire, the apes allow the Arabs to mount their horses and escape. Tarzan regains consciousness with a shoulder wound. He continues his pursuit after healing for a few days. Two apes, Taglat and Chulk, accompany him, the latter for adventure, the former because of his hatred for Tarzan. Near the Arab palisade Tarzan ambushes a rider leaving the camp. Later in the day two Arabs walking along the trail fall before the three mighty creatures. Clothed in burnooses, the Tarzan, Taglat and Chulk enter the camp in search of Jane and Achmet Zek. Tarzan listens to Zek conversing with his lieutenants in his tent.

Chapter 17: The Deadly Peril of Jane Clayton

(David Oxford)

Werper has an audience with the Abyssinian, Abdul Mourak. For his liberty Werper will reveal the location of Opar's gold. Abdul Mourak agrees. Mourak's forces are ordered south. In Achmet Zek's camp, orders are given to proceed toward Tarzan’s douar to retrieve the buried gold. When Achmet Zek exits his tent, Tarzan enters the rear along with Chulk.Taglat goes to Jane's hut and leaps to the roof. Falling inside, Taglat seizes Jane and carries her over the palisade. Jane is horror-struck when she discovers she has been rescued by an ape instead of her beloved Tarzan. Tarzan searches the tent of Achmet Zek but finds no jewels. He goes to Jane's hut, only to find a crowd of Arabs. When accosted, Tarzan sweeps his attackers aside. He enters the tent and escapes through the hole in the roof. Fleeing the palisade Tarzan seeks the scent spoor of Jane or Taglat, but a capricious wind shifts direction, which causes him to lose their trail.

Chapter 18: The Fight for the Treasure

(David Oxford)

Tarzan kills a deer. Albert Werper and the Abyssinians hasten toward the south. Tarzan follows by way of the middle terrace for the next two days. On a plain beside charred timbers the Abyssinians begin digging up the buried gold. Achmet Zek’s Arabs arrive. The Arabs charge the Abyssinians. A bloody battle begins. Pursued by Achmet Zek, Werper flees toward the forest. Tarzan gains a horse and pursues the two men. A handful of Abyssinians survive, including Abdul Mourak. The victorious Arabs temporarily abandon the gold to follow Achmet Zek. When they leave an unseen party of black warriors creep toward the gold. Werper's exhausted horse trips and falls in the jungle. Taking a position behind his horse, Werper shoots at Achmet Zek, killing the Arab's horse. Both men began firing from behind their downed horses. Tarzan circles through the trees toward the men. Werper proposes Achmet Zek accept the pouch of jewels in return for sparing his life. Leaving the pouch, Werper creeps into the jungle to ambush Achmet Zek. Suspecting treachery, the wily Arab approaches unseen and retrieves the pouch, finding only a collection of river pebbles instead of the anticipated jewels. Tarzan retrieves the cast aside pouch and the scattered pebbles.

Chapter 19: Jane Clayton and the Beasts of the Jungle

(David Oxford)

Mugambi, weak from deprivation, finds a river and game. He builds a thorn boma as protection. Chulk discovers Mugambi and wishes to steal his few belongings. While Mugambi sleeps, Chulk takes the pouch and knob-stick and flees. Mugambi finds manlike footprints in the trampled turf but is unable to find any other clues and is unable to pursue. As Taglat tries to remove the unconscious Jane Clayton's bindings, a lion springs. A terrific battle ensues but the cat's talons disembowel and kill the ape. Jane awakes to find the lion devouring the ape. She also discovers she is no longer bound. Slowly rolling toward the forest a few feet at a time, she nears a tree, reaching it before the lion charges. Jane starts in a southerly direction toward the Waziri and the site of her razed home. She hears rifle shots. Concealed in a tree, she sees M. Jules Frecoult backing down the trail with a rifle in his hand. She watches him shoot Achmet Zek, the leader of the ruffians who raided her home. As Achmet Zek falls Jane drops from the tree to congratulate Frecoult on his victory.

Chapter 20: Jane Clayton Again a Prisoner

(David Oxford)

Realizing Lady Greystoke has no knowledge of his part in the attack on her home, Werper accepts her warm greeting. He explains the Waziri have been driven out of their country and Achmet Zek’s men occupy her former home. Proposing they hurry to Achmet Zek’s camp and obtain an escort by a ruse, the pair reach the camp two days later. Werper initially tells Mohammed Beyd he has captured Jane and has been instructed by Achmet Zek to deliver the girl to a slave trader to the north. Mohammed Beyd is later told that Achmet Zek has been killed by Abyssinians and a punitive force may be marching on their camp. He strikes a bargain with Werper to split the jewels and the ransom of Jane. A party of twenty men accompany Jane, Mohammed Beyd, and Werper. The two men each desire the woman and the jewels, and each plans to kill the other. Mohammed Beyd informs Jane that M. Frecoult is Albert Werper and that Werper and Achmet Zek planned the raid on her home. That night Jane cries herself to sleep. A furtive figure whisper to the two guards who leave her tent, and the figure enters.

Chapter 21: The Flight to the Jungle

By Stan Galloway

Werper, jealous of Mohammed Beyd's attention to Jane. and wanting her for himself, goes to Jane that night. He d7iscovers Mohammed Beyd with Jane and kills him. Jane thanks Werper, praising his chivalry. Jane's praise, diminishes Werper's lust. He tells the sentries Jane has been shot. He carries her possum-limp body out into the jungle. She hides in a tree. He returns to camp, moves Mohammed Beyd's body to the proper tent and frames the man's suicide. Leaderless, the Arabs disperse north. Werper tells them he will ride east to the coast. Once out of their sight, he rides to Jane's hiding place and finds her gone.

Chapter 22: Tarzan Recovers His Reason

By Stan Galloway

Tarzan empties the pebbles and thinks about the gold ingots. Through a chain of remembered images and conscious effort, he nearly regains his memory, cut short by the vision of his hairless body dancing among the mangani. By choice he goes toward remembered things, eating and drinking as prompted by instinct, finally sleeping in a tree at nightfall. The next day he is puzzled to find the gold not where he had seen it last. He abandons himself to aimless movement. On the third day he discovers Werper riding east. He jumps him and demands his "pretty pebbles." Werper addresses him as Lord Greystoke, which sets Tarzan's mind whirring, his memories falling into place. They are interrupted by Congo Free State officers who have been searching for Werper to take him to trial. They take the two by force and bind them, despite an attempt by Tarzan to rush them to liberty. A hairy figure watches them as they camp for the night. Tarzan speaks to it and the superstitious soldiers begin frightful rumors about the ape-man.

Chapter 23: A Night of Terror

By Stan Galloway

Jane awakes and greets the solitary horseman who comes, too late discovering it to be Abdul Mourak. He his shortly joined by others who bring her to the ground, and he decides to take her to Menelek, his emperor. In an uneasy, discouraged camp that night, sentries try to keep the horses calm from the many lions roaring without. One bold lion ventures too close, is wounded, and charges the horses. Emboldened by the first, a dozen more lions leap into camp, rending men and beasts. One irritated lion fixes his gaze on Jane. Meanwhile, Tarzan has worked one hand free from his bonds and answers a guttural sound from the darkness. The sentries freeze. A dozen apes enter camp and a sentry shouts. The apes pick up Tarzan and Werper and bear them off. A parting shot wounds Chulk, who carries Werper. When the apes stop Chulk collapses on Werper, and Werper discovers the pebble pouch, which he takes for himself. Chulk is dead. Even though it is night, Tarzan orders Werper to take him to where Jane had last been. Shortly they hear rifle shots and lion roars. Thinking Jane might be involved, Tarzan leaves Werper with instructions to stay put. Werper moves on.

Chapter 24: Home

By Stan Galloway

As the lion prepares to spring, Tarzan leaps onto him. Jane cries aloud at seeing Tarzan alive. Tarzan brains the beast with a rifle butt. Tarzan and Jane embrace then take to the trees. Tarzan finds Werper gone and chooses to take Jane to safety rather than pursue him. On their way they find Achmet Zek's village burned by the Waziri. The next evening they catch up with the Waziri party and find Basuli and Mugambi. They celebrate long into the night. Months later, the homestead is rebuilt. They all go on a celebration hunt, whereon they discover Werper's bones and the jewels.