Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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THE WORKS OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS RATED BY Tangor & Nkima

—And Guests. Includes the writing years of 1911-1944. See Comments at End of Article

Edgar Rice Burroughs You can rank ERB on line and See Instant Results

INTRODUCTION:

David Bruce Bozarth & David Arthur Adams, are solely responsible for any low rating for your favorite ERB title. As two of the more vocal and opinionated of Internet ERB fans, these mighty giants of fandom have come together to Siskel & Ebert the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tangor plays Siskel ("We're both dead!") and Nkima, by default, will Ebert to his heart's content. We call 'em like we see 'em, but YMMV as regards our ratings of the Grand Master's many tales of wonder and romance.

This listing presents the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs in writing/publication order and may be marginally useful in that context.

Our star rating is personally subjective, but follows the basic concept of Excellent, Above Average, Average, Below Average, and Poor. That rating is further modified by the importance of the work within any Created World Series.

Burroughs was fond of writing "cliffhangers" that required sequels thus, some of the books are best read in the proper sequence. Additionally, many of the stories fall into a Created World Series and should be read in their original writing/publication order.

A very short description of each novel is included. For more information regarding each of these novels see ERBmania!'s Worlds of ERB for extended descriptions of the novels or ERBList's ERB Summaries Project for Chapter Summaries of currently summarized ERB novels.


***** A Burroughsian masterpiece
**** A very good yarn
*** A potboiler story
** A lesser story
* A story to be skipped until later

1901-07? Minidoka, 937th Earl of One Mile Series M


A fairy tale of Idaho. The actual date the story was written is unknown but presumed to be well before Under the Moons of Mars. Unpublished until 1998.

Tangor *

ERB's youthful imagination is well documented in this odd little tale that really doesn't have much to offer other than as a collectible curiosity of Burroughs' writings. The illustrations of the present edition, as well as the J Allen St John cover make up for the failure of the too-clever tale and puns that marginally fail in today's reality.

Nkima *

Skip it. You can dig up John Carter here if you have the inclination.

AQ Porter **

This one, written 8-10 years before his published period began, is mainly interesting as a demonstration that ERB was not the untried first-time writer that he made himself out to be when he submitted PRINCESS.


1911. A Princess of Mars


John Carter, an American Civil War vet, is mysteriously transported to the planet Mars where he discovers fantastic cultures of barbarism and high tech mixed together on a dying planet. Adventure and romance await Carter in this classic tale.

Tangor *****

Ed Burroughs opens his writing career with a tale set upon a fully realized world which, of itself, is as top-billed as the novel's star character John Carter. The extended introduction of the world and cultures of Barsoom is a little slow going for some readers but is necessary to develop the wonderfully diverse and alien world where American John Carter finds true love and dedicates his life to the service of Dejah Thoris, A Princess of Mars.

Nkima *****

If you don't get excited about "Princess" you probably won't like any of ERB's Barsoomian novels. It's an old-time classic that has real status in the world of science fiction and/or fantasy world. Even though it is the first novel of a trilogy, I like it as a stand-alone novel because I can hear the voice of a man working his way through his first book. It is an authentic Burroughsian masterpiece.

AQ Porter *****

This is one of the all-time classics of the genre, and deserves 5 stars on several counts: (a) it sets the stage for the entire Barsoomian series, making the Mars of Percival Lowell's theories come alive; (b) it introduces the romance of John Carter and Dejah Thoris; and (c) it introduces Tars Tarkas, one of ERB's truly memorable and well-realized sidekicks.


1911-12. The Outlaw of Torn


An historical novel set in thirteenth century England — a routine novel of Saxons versus Normans, a kidnapped princeling, the raising of an outlaw army, bloody battles and tearful reconciliation.

Tangor **

Ed Burroughs' second written novel TORN is significant for that very fact but, unfortunately, this tale of medieval days is merely an exploration of fledgling themes that he would eventually refine into the "Burroughs Formula." The characterizations are strong, the basic story line is solid, yet it comes off as a semi-pallid copy of more famous European writers.

Nkima **

I would rather read about Robin Hood or King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable. I'll never read this one again for pleasure because I had to drag myself through it the first time around.

AQ Porter ***

The first of ERB's historical romances, it amply demonstrates his ability to do a workmanlike job in this genre as well as the science-fiction field. Mediocre only by comparison with the best of the Tarzan and Mars series.


1911-12. Tarzan of the Apes


An orphaned child of an English lord is reared by apes in the African jungle. Tarzan ultimately meets Jane and civilization, and must endure the inner struggles of a feral childhood and finding his place in the world as a man.

Tangor *****

There are few literary heroes who have captured the popular conscious as completely as Tarzan of the Apes. A Princess of Mars revealed Burroughs' ability to create a memorable world, Tarzan of the Apes proved he could create as memorable a hero. Tarzan is Ed Burroughs' canvas of humanity exposed and the intensity of romantic love unveiled. Adventure is tempered with self-sacrifice and the reader is thereby enriched.

Nkima *****

Apes is a classic. It is well written and memorable. It's a stand-alone novel to me without the wrap-up in The Return of Tarzan. Burroughs could have lived on his laurels with this one without a single sequel. It is a Burroughsian Masterpiece, and in many ways remains the only one despite the wonders of the Mars Series.

AQ Porter *****

Another classic. This one deserves a 5-star rating because it introduces one of the greatest characters of modern literature and makes believable the early development of a human child raised by subhumans, who at the story's end is clearly more human than animal. Unlike John Carter, who shows little character development through the series (despite marriage, fatherhood, and grandfatherhood), Tarzan continues to grow and develop throughout the series.


1912. The Gods of Mars


John Carter returns to Mars and, with the aid of his Barsoomian son, exposes a centuries old religious hoax. Ends with a Burroughs cliffhanger.

Tangor *****

The world of Barsoom as star gives way as character as cultural extremities are revealed. Ed Burroughs delivers a scathing commentary as regards organized religion and completely inverts the superiority of white/black relations as known on earth. In GODS the First Born, a black race, have dominated the other races of Barsoom for centuries. Carter exposes a corrupt religion, shows a black as friend to whites, and sets an entire world on fire in the crucible of war. Carter finds his son and at the same time loses his wife. One of ERB's more intricately plotted tales, the characters presented elevate the black man to heights of excellence while exposing a bogus religion.

Nkima ****

Gods only gets 4 stars from me because I believe that true masterpieces are rare. I'm glad that ERB wrote it though because I was interested in reading more about Tars Tarkas. Most of the Mars Series is very good indeed, and this is one of the better ones.

AQ Porter *****

I rank this one along with PRINCESS, as it continues John Carter's story and further develops our picture of the planet Barsoom, with its false religion of Issus and introduction of the Therns and First Born.


1912-13. The Return of Tarzan


Tarzan becomes the chief of the native Waziri, travels to the Atlantian treasure city of Opar and meets its priestess-queen, La, who falls in love with him, but he marries Jane at the end.

Tangor ***

An essential tale of the opening Tarzan trilogy, RETURN relies too heavily upon coincidence and what we eventually call the "Burroughs Formula" to tell the tale. Tarzan and Jane come together, after many trials and tribulations. The only high spot is the introduction of what is arguably the best villain ever penned by ERB.

Nkima ****

Tarzan's Return wraps-up the loose ends of Apes. It is certainly not the masterpiece of his first Tarzan novel, but it is a good story, introducing characters that come back again and again throughout the series.

AQ Porter *****

As with GODS OF MARS, this one shares the ranking of its predecessor as it continues the tale which was left unsatisfactorily at the end of APES. It contains one of Tarzan's classic statements: "[M]y civilization is not even skin deep — it does not go deeper than my clothes." It also introduces Rokoff, one of ERB's truly memorable villains.


1913. At the Earth's Core


Adventurer David Innes and inventor Abner Perry bore to the center of the Earth with their "iron mole" and discover the primitive world of Pellucidar and the cities of the reptilian Mahars.

Tangor ***

Though this is the third world created by Ed Burroughs in a two year span, Pellucidar is perhaps the weakest of all. High marks are given to the characterizations and the initial created world presentation, but overall this tale of adventure at the earth's core is simplistic and bereft of memorable characters. David Innes is a hero without a clue monitored by a "school teacher" without abilities. Dian the Beautiful is a plus factor, as are the prehistoric monsters of Pellucidar. ATEC and the sequel PELLUCIDAR are worth reading, but the remaining Pellucidarian tales are marginal ERB at best.

Nkima ****

This novel only gets 4 stars because of the mahars — I think they were a brilliant creation and much maligned by the author. The basic plot was nothing new, and his main characters are not that interesting to me.

AQ Porter ****

Introduces the Pellucidar series, in which the old theory of the Hollow Earth is developed to a greater extent than in any other writing that I am familiar with.


1913. The Cave Girl


Milquetoast Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones is stranded on a primitive island. One wrong step and this weakling of upper-crust society will perish.

Tangor *****

ERB presents all the hopes and dreams of youth, weak, average, sleeping, in a tale that gives hope that the average joe blow can become a hardened super fellow. The ugly caterpillar to butterfly is a common dream of readers of adventure/fantasy fiction and Burroughs delivers. The remainder of the transformation from Milquetoast to Beef-Steak occurs in his sequel THE CAVE MAN.

Nkima ****

I am a big fan of The Cave Girl. The twist in the tale is vintage ERB. Anyone who can poke fun at his own work in OK in my book.

AQ Porter *****

This one is a personal favorite because it turns the classical pulp formula of the brave and daring hero and the shy, timid heroine on its head.


1913. The Monster Men (Man Without A Soul)


Professor Maxon has succeeded in creating artificial life. Now he intends to create the perfect man!

Tangor ***

Frankenstein retold in a South Pacific venue with real emotional aspects and regrets. The Monster Men is one of Ed Burroughs' most overlooked adventure romances. It does suffer from an almost superficially delivered series of events, yet the heart of the story embraces the love between man and woman. The twist at the end of the story is inconsequential because the characters have fully formed their commitments before the O-Henry twist. The Monster Men is among my "must reads" to get a handle on ERB's enduring tales of human romance.

Nkima *

I'm not a big fan of Monster Men. I do like Frankenstein a lot. The whole thing is contrived and silly. The ending is a BIG disappointment.

AQ Porter ****

Explores the problems of the creation of artificial life and the moral consequences thereof as deeply as any novel since Mary Shelley's original FRANKENSTEIN. Another personal favorite.


1913. The Warlord of Mars


John Carter will stop at nothing, not even global war, to defend his princess and his adopted nation.

Tangor *****

Tangor gives a 5 star to this tale because it adroitly and most effectively concludes the opening trilogy of Barsoom. Carter deals with the obstacles that remain between him and his princess in heroic, almost mythic, style. In the process we are treated with yet another example of the world of Barsoom which still, even at this late date, gets second billing after the star character.

Nkima ****

This is the conclusion of the so called "Mars Trilogy." It's at least as good as Gods, so I give it 4-stars.

AQ Porter *****

Wraps up the original Barsoom trilogy in grand style.


1913. The Mucker


Billy Byrne, hooligan running from a bum murder-rap, is shanghaied onto a ship of mutineers. A lady of refinement needs rescuing. (Contains The Mucker and The Return of the Mucker)

Tangor ***

About 10 novels into his career Burroughs shows he can still spin an interesting tale, but he's beginning to show strong signs of the Burroughs Formula taking hold. Billy Byrne is one of the more interesting ERB heroes because he starts out being a little unsavory! The Mucker, unlike his earlier works, is firmly presented in terms of the real and contemporary world—no flying monsters, no radium rifles, or fantasy dream sequences. Unlike the somewhat light-hearted Cave Girl set in contemporary times, The Mucker is gritty and hard-hitting.

Nkima ***

To me this is a real potboiler with all kinds of stuff in the pot. I can't imagine ever reading it again when there is Jack London who did it all much better.

AQ Porter ***

I found this one disappointing — a hodgepodge of lower class thuggery, lost-race, boxing, and "personal redemption" fiction genres. Highly overrated.


1913. The Mad King


This Zenda lookalike is packed with hard-hitting action. The European kingdom of Lutha is caught between Austria/Germany and the Serbs on the eve of World War I.

Tangor ***

Burroughs borrows from earlier writers for the basic premise of The Mad King and then carries the concept to a higher plane of entertainment rather than bogging down to mere machinations and identity confusions. What The Mad King does is cleverly insert an American into royal intrigues in a nation threatened on all sides by future combatants of World War I.

Nkima **

This novel is low on my list because I think ERB's canon would not suffer at all without its presence. I didn't like The Prisoner of Zenda much better.

AQ Porter ****

Yes, it's a retelling of the PRISONER OF ZENDA story — but done so much better.


1913. The Eternal Lover (Savage)


Nu, the caveman meets contemporary Victoria Custer who looks like his long lost Na-tul. A tragic romance follows with a surprise ending.

Tangor ***

I should rate this novel higher because it is a personal favorite, but among all the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs it is a good read without rising above the average Burroughs adventure/romance. The inclusion of an unusual Lord Greystoke gives the novel greater importance as one of the "cross-series" stories for Tarzan fans.

Nkima ****

I'm a big fan of Eternal Lover because of the wacky dream idea. Burroughs does it so well that I will read it again to try to figure out what is "really" happening. Tarzan is completely out of character with the cave man, Nu, taking on the "real" Tarzan role. I think it's a fun novel that plays around with characters and themes in interesting ways.

AQ Porter **

One of my least favorite stories, memorable only for the glimpse of the Greystoke ranch in East Africa shortly after BEASTS.


1914. The Beasts of Tarzan


Tarzan searches for his kidnapped son and his abducted wife with the aid of Sheeta, a vicious leopard, the great ape Akut, and Mugambi, a black warrior. He seeks vengeance as only a human beast of the jungle can devise.

Tangor ***

Beasts rounds out the opening Tarzan trilogy with a fast-paced action tale. The kidnapping of Greystoke's son by villains first met in the second novel of the series is the impetus. Tarzan encounters various difficulties along the way, and his wife Jane is in equal danger. Though a necessary read to complete the introduction of the ape-man to readers everywhere, this novel is not as strong as the first two.

Nkima ****

I like Beasts a lot because it has the real Tarzan in action without the lost cities stuff. His relationships with animals are elemental and dangerous — the way they should be in a good Tarzan novel.

AQ Porter ****

An excellent Tarzan yarn, but not quite up to the first two. Memorable primarily for the composition of Tarzan's wild crew and for the well-deserved end of Rokoff.


1914. The Lad and the Lion


The lad, Prince Michael, becomes amnesiac and wanders with his only friend, a lion.

Tangor *

A tepid retelling of the Tarzan tale, royalty, African adventures. Real snoozer, kiddies!

Nkima **

It's been awhile since I have read this one, but I'm only giving it 2-stars because I think could be left out of the canon without to much trouble. However, since it has a boy and a lion, I will read it again and perhaps upgrade my views.

AQ Porter **

Essentially a Tarzan wannabe. Prince Michael's story is not as good as Tarzan's, and the tale of central-European intrigue in the alternate chapters doesn't come up to THE MAD KING.


1914. The Girl from Farris's


A girl from a house of ill-repute flees the prospect of jail time. A young man is willing to lose all to bring love and comfort into her life.

Tangor *

The characters (and their backgrounds) are about all that create any interest in this short novel of love and sacrifice. The Burroughs Formula is fully displayed, as well as the author's penchant for stereotyped characterizations. Nothing new here, even worse, there's little to endear it to Burroughs readers.

Nkima *

I could do without this story.

AQ Porter ***

Interesting primarily as the first of ERB's "realistic" stories to see publication.


1914. Thuvia, Maid of Mars


Carthoris, Prince of Helium comes to the aid of a kidnapped princess and discovers lost civilizations and bizarre cultures on dying Barsoom.

Tangor ***

The fourth in the Barsoom series, while entertaining and exciting, is a let down compared to the previous three volumes. Carthoris and Thuvia encounter a hodgepodge of adventures and romantic stumbling blocks, with Carthoris, heroic figure he might be, coming off as a shadow compared to his mighty sire.

Nkima ****

The Mars Series is strong and always entertaining. The stories are so good that they can withstand multiple readings.

AQ Porter ****

John Carter's story was essentially completed in WARLORD; with this one the central focus is on the planet itself (and will remain so for the remainder of the series).


1914. The Cave Man (Cave Girl #2)


Waldo becomes Thandar, the primitive male who will battle all who stand between him and his woman, Nadara.

Tangor *****

SEE rating under The Cave Girl

AQ Porter *****

Forms a single story with CAVE GIRL, and shares its rank.


1914-15. Pellucidar


David Innes returns to the inner Earth in search of Dian the Beautiful, his wife, and has a final show-down with the Mahars, the reptilian rulers of Pellucidar.

Tangor ***

I would actually rate Pellucidar higher than At The Earth's Core for entertainment value. Innes gets to perform against a believable backdrop of world color and interesting plot mechanics. However, Pellucidar the Series just does not come up to the same level of expectation as the other major series works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Nkima ***

This is a good enough sequel to At the Earth's Core.

AQ Porter ****

As with APES/RETURN and PRINCESS/GODS/WARLORD, this one is a continuation of AT THE EARTH'S CORE and completes the story begun in that book.


1915. The Son of Tarzan


Tarzan's civilized son learns to face the dangers of the African jungle with the aid of the great ape, Akut, and grows into Korak the Killer, almost as mighty as Tarzan himself.

Tangor ***

I told Nkima I didn't want to mess with ½ stars, but this is one I'd probably give a 3½ rating. Son is better than Beasts by a small margin, even though it is a revisit to the human infant raised in the jungle tale we first saw in Tarzan of the Apes. Korak is an intriguing character who brings human intelligence into the equation of learning about the jungle, whereas his father, Greystoke, knew the jungle and then had to learn the ways of man. Meriem is perhaps one of the most finely drawn female protagonists in the works of Ed Burroughs. She is both tragic and triumphant, depending on how deeply you read the story.

Nkima ****

I love this book. It is not a masterpiece, but Korak gives me another view of Tarzan himself. The story could have taken off into larger dimensions, but ERB didn't want to override his own hero. If ERB had written this for himself instead of money, I wonder if he would have been able to take Korak into worlds of his own without his father's dominating presence. "There is only one Tarzan." Who says?

AQ Porter *****

Another personal favorite, despite the temporal anomaly created. Contains two memorable characters besides Korak himself: Meriem, one of ERB's best heroines, and the Sheikh, driven by revenge.


The Man-Eater


A tale of Africa, a plantation, and...

Tangor Unrated

I read about three pages. Haven't been able to finish it (bored, yawn!), but will get back to it one of these days. No rating.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

A potboiler, but a good one. Androcles in modern clothing.


1915. Beyond Thirty (The Lost Continent)


What if WW I had lasted 200 years? What sort of world would a visitor from the isolationistic Western Hemisphere find? Jefferson Turck is about to find out.

Tangor ***

I may actually be uprating this story by a star simply because I like it. The "predictions" ERB made as regards the possibilities of unrestrained warfare to the complete destruction of all European civilization is an interesting theme. Additionally, his concept of the dangers of Isolationism carried to extremes is equally intriguing. The book also contains one of ERB's more heartfelt passages found in the pages of a diary, nearly rotted by time that Turck finds in the ruins of a bombed out city. With all that said, Beyond Thirty is a run-of-the-mill ERB adventure.

Nkima *

A so-so story.

AQ Porter ****

Interesting for its portrayal of a Europe reverted to barbarism (much like the darker FINAL BLACKOUT by L. Ron Hubbard), but unlike it, with a glimmer of optimism at the end.


1915. Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar


Tarzan returns to the Atlantian treasure city of Opar and the beautiful high priestess, La, but looses his memory in an earthquake causing him to forget all civilized life and become as an ape again, unable to assist Jane, who has been captured by Arab slave raiders.

Tangor ***

We first meet La, High Priestess of Opar in a brief aside in Return. She is, again, an interlude in Jewels, but what an interlude! Tarzan experiences the first of an often repeated series of amnesia episodes in this, one of the more convoluted Tarzan tales.

Nkima ***

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

AQ Porter ****

As far as I'm concerned ANY book that contains La and Opar is above average.


1915. The Rider


Secret identities, highway brigands, and romance. A twisted tale from the turn of the century.

Tangor *

Another tale where I'd like to have a ½ star rating... ie ½ stars. Thankfully, this is a short one that doesn't take too much time or reader participation to accomplish. Read it when there's nothing else available.

Nkima *

Pure drivel.

AQ Porter ***

A humdrum tale of central European intrigue, banditry, and mistaken identities. THE MAD KING without Barney Custer crossed with THE LAD AND THE LION without Prince Michael.


1915. The Return of the Mucker


A sequel to The Mucker. Billy Byrne is on trial for murder, then spends some time in a Mexican revolution.

Tangor ***

See my rating for The Mucker. I read both parts as a single novel in the 1960s and consider both a single work. This second half, however, is the weaker of the two parts.

Nkima *

One of the worst sequels Burroughs ever wrote. Jack London knew how to write about life on the road because he lived it.

AQ Porter ***

A bit better than the first half, primarily thanks to the introduction of Bridge. Still not up to ERB's better stuff.


1916-17. Jungle Tales of Tarzan


Twelve delightful short stories reveal the secrets of the youth of Tarzan among the apes, including his search for love, the source of dreams, and the whereabouts of God.

Tangor ****

This collection of short stories is among the finer works of Ed Burroughs. Each tale is offered as a parable regarding various aspects of the human existence. The rigid production format of one tale per month to his pulp editors indicates the writer's dedication and skill to his craft.

Nkima ****

I happen to love Jungle Tales. I think they are his most successful short stories.

AQ Porter ****

Interesting primarily for filling in some of the gaps within APES.


1917. The Oakdale Affair


A society lass slums as a boyish bum in a contemporary thriller about hoboes, burglars and murderers.

Tangor **

Not the worst ERB ever wrote, nor the most imaginative, Oakdale, however, allows us to revisit one of ERB's more interesting characters: Bridge. The tale is a tad more contrived than most ERB stories, and contains the too-often mistaken/misidentified identity device, but on the whole, it is fairly well written, though very unsatisfying. Burroughs could have done more with this short novel, but he didn't, and we readers shall regret that always. Unlike my esteemed friend, I have read Oakdale three times. Sadly, however, I found nothing new in the novel the third time around.

Nkima *

Terrible. Life is too short to reread this story.

AQ Porter ***

If it were not for the continuation of the tale of Bridge, this one would only rate one star.


1917. The Land That Time Forgot


The primitive lost island of Caprona is the locale for an unusual evolutionary process as discovered by the mixed crew of Allies and Germans circa World War I. The trilogy is available in one volume or as three small volumes entitled: The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, Out of Time's Abyss (aka People Out of Time). Note: This is the first novel of the so-called Caspak Trilogy, and is generally considered to be among the best books written by Burroughs.

Tangor *****

If I rated the omnibus edition which contains all three parts, I'd give it a 4 star rating. However, Nkima and I are rating the three separate parts independently. Part 1 is as good as it gets Burroughsian. Tightly plotted, filled with memorable characters, a fantastic world and adventures therein, this is a fine novel by any standards. Bowen Tyler is a believable character, a man who is not cast as a hero but becomes one just the same. The romantic interest, Lys La Rue, is every woman who has ever been duped and then had her eyes opened—and is as loyal as they come. The story is written in a patriotic tone as it embodies aspects of the war in Europe (WWI) and in that vein we do see some vilification of the German characters aboard the U-33, yet when push comes to shove, it is members of the German contigent that rise up against the Prussian leadership of von Schoenvorts—showing that even in the midst of a war there are those who do not blindly follow. I suggest reading all three volumes of the Caspak series, but if you can only read one, this is it.

Nkima **

I never really enjoyed the Caspak series except for "Out of Times Abyss," yet even this is just another Burroughsian nightmare.

AQ Porter ****

Interesting primarily because it sets the stage for the two following novellas. Lys La Rue doesn't grab me the way Ajor and Co-tan do; I guess she's just not exotic enough.


1917. The People That Time Forgot


Tom Billings leads an expedition to rescue his employer's son and Ms. La Rue. He faces a series of personal adventures in Caspak after his airplane is downed by flying prehistoric monsters.

Tangor****

Burroughs continues exploring the extraordinary aspects of evolution in Caspak. At the same time we are treated with the unfolding of yet another classic ERB romance between Billings and A-Jor, a Galu female.

Nkima **

AQ Porter *****

Burroughs hits his stride with the Caspak series in this one. Tom Billings is a cleaner Billy Byrne, and Ajor is a true delight.


1918. Out Of Times Abyss


Englishman Bradley must deal with being separated from his fellows, the Weiroo, and an attractive little savage named Co-Tan.

Tangor ***

The Caspak saga continues, centered around the adventures of Bradley, a member of the English tug crew. Burroughs saved the "secret" of Caspak's evolution until this last novel, and also waited until the end to present the most horrific of the island's inhabitants: the Wieroo. As an aside, the chapter breaks in this novel (5 total) are among the longest ever written by Ed Burroughs, yet despite the length of these chapters Abyss is one of the fastest reading ERB's written.

Nkima **

AQ Porter *****

John Bradley is the man Tarzan might have been had he not been raised by the Mangani; Co-tan, like Ajor, is a delight. But the thing that really sets this one apart is the creation of the Weiroos and their City of Skulls.


1918-19. Tarzan the Untamed


Tarzan seeks a grim and terrible vengeance against the WWI Huns, whom he believes have murdered Jane. The ape-man tracks her killers through warring armies, across a vast desert into a strange valley where only madmen live.

Tangor *****

Untamed is among my most favorite Tarzan novels. It is here that we first experience the human side of the ape-man as he embarks upon a terrible vengeance that ultimately wreaks havoc upon the Germanic forces in East Africa during World War I. See my Code of Tarzan for an expanded viewpoint.

Nkima ****

I love Untamed. If ERB had let Jane die he might have written a tragic masterpiece. Note: This is the first of the group of Tarzan novels Lupoff calls "Tarzan's Greatest Adventures," which he lists as the great "middle period" stories through Tarzan at the Earth's Core.

AQ Porter ****

This one introduces the second series of Tarzan stories, and is mainly memorable for Tarzan's activity in the East African campaign during World War I. Tarzan's character is still developing, and it is noteworth that his main motivation is not patriotism but revenge for the supposed murder of Jane.


1919. The Efficiency Expert


Jimmy Torrence, college grad, learns about the real world through the school of hard knocks. In the process he is accused of murder!

Tangor **

This is a straight-forward coming of age tale which is amusing because of the shady characters who befriend our hero. Otherwise than that, there's not a lot to recommend this on a "short list" of must reads.

Nkima *

Junk.

AQ Porter ***

A mildly interesting minor work exploring the downfall and regeneration of a young college graduate who thinks he has the world by the tail and quickly learns how wrong he was.


1919. Under the Red Flag


Listed here merely as the source for the later revised and published The Moon Men (1925)


1920. Tarzan the Terrible


Tarzan continues his search for Jane's killers into the hidden valley of Pal-ul-don, a savage land inhabited by humanoids with prehensile tails and carnivorous triceratops that survived from the dim dawn of time. Note: Many Tarzan fans consider this to be the best novel of the Tarzan Series.

Tangor ****

This novel, for me, marks the beginning of Tarzan's endless wandering through fantasy cultures and lost cities ad nauseum, yet it is without a doubt one of the more powerfully written tales in the series.

Nkima *****

To me this is a masterpiece. Pal-ul-don is the best imaginary world he ever created. Tarzan at his best.

AQ Porter ****

Two major drawing points to this one: Pal-ul-don, with its Pithecanthropi, and a Jane who has obviously learned a great deal from her husband about survival in the wild.


1921. The Chessmen of Mars


Tara, daughter of the Warlord, becomes lost on the dead sea bottoms; only Gahan of Gathol, an undesired suitor, can save her.

Tangor *****

Chessmen is the most inventive of the Barsoomian stories of Ed Burroughs, and is the longest of the series. Our usual mix of miscommunication, false identities, and dastardly villians is present, but once again it is the world of Barsoom and the fantastic creatures and cultures which get a star billing.

Nkima ****

The chess game seemed contrived to me . . . but Ghek was there, wasn't he? The Barsoomian novels had creative invention to spare. Burroughs wrote at his best in the series. It's too bad they are almost forgotten by the public today. Barsoom is better than Oz, but Dorothy gets all the attention.

AQ Porter ****

Once again, John Carter is relegated to a minor role, while his daughter Tara and (about-to-be) son-in-law Gahan take center stage. The peculiar symbiosis of the Kaldanes and the Rykors is the central wonder in this one.


1921-22. The Girl from Hollywood


Murder, drugs, high society, a modern tale of betrayal and tragedy.

Tangor *

This look at the sordid side of Hollywood reads okay, but there are better ERB books to read. Save this one for later.

Nkima *

Too tame and too Western for me. It is a good look at ERB's ranch, but not much more.

AQ Porter ****

Published in the aftermath of the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, this one reveals the inner corruption of Hollywood and at the same time gives us a fascinating peek at life on ERB's Tarzana ranch.


1922. Tarzan and the Golden Lion


Tarzan raises a lion cub as a deadly companion named Jad-bal-ja, The Golden Lion. Once again he meets danger in the lost city of Opar, where La, High Priestess of the Flaming God, is threatened by a palace rebellion. Together they flee into the Valley of Diamonds where savage gorillas rule over servile men. And behind, Estaban Miranda - an evil Tarzan double - plots further treachery.

Tangor ***

A Tarzan tale with a traditional ERB animal gimmick/sidekick; in this one it is a lion cub raised by Lord Greystoke. The ERB formula is hard at work in this one, the pace is fast and furious. One of the better "middle" Tarzans.

Nkima ***

Despite my love for Jad-bal-ja, I wish the feline sidekick had been killed at the end of the story so Tarzan wouldn't have had someone to save him in so many others. ERB could have written a real tragedy, linking Jad's death to his parents, both ape and human. He messed up most of his Tarzan novels after this because he didn't dare to write about death with meaning. Tarzan kept getting hit on the head and going to "lost cities"...right...

AQ Porter ****

Another Opar story, and as a bonus there is the Valley of Diamonds, where gorillas rule and humans are the servants. (A source for PLANET OF THE APES?)


1922. The Moon Maid


The first book in the Moon Trilogy (see The Moon Men and The Red Hawk) Julian the 5th in the years 2024-2036 discovers a hollow moon and a moon maid, Nah-ee-lah. Often published in an omnibus edition containing all three parts of the Moon series, Nkima and I will rate the stories individually.

Tangor ***

My reading is based on the longer ACE SF reprints which are the original magazine versions. The Moon Maid disappoints me a little as regards ERB's creativity and inventiveness. The hollow moon mimics his successful Pellucidar series, marginally links to Barsoom, has adventure, romance, and betrayal—ERB's stock in trade. What makes Moon Maid different, however, is ERB's use of reincarnation as the framing device for telling the story.

Nkima **

I don't care that much for the moon series.

AQ Porter ****

A Lunar Pellucidar, notable mainly for the introduction of the Va-gas and the Kalkars.


1922. The Scientists Revolt


Ray Palmer took ERB's "Beware!", a conventional murder mystery with locked doors, and updated it to a future society and a scientific gimmick.

Tangor No stars

I've read "Beware!" and "Revolt" and find both of these short novellas to be profoundly unsatisfying. ERB loved mysteries and usually attempted to have something in most of his stories that needed to be solved, but when he wrote tales deliberately intended to mysteries, the plots and clues often became so convoluted and contrived that the story suffers.

Nkima *

Just junk.

AQ Porter **

Although it may be blasphemy to say so, I believe Ray Palmer actually improved this one. I would give BEWARE! only one star at best.


1923. The Bandit of Hell's Bend


A western with Gaustarkian overtones, secret identities and romance.

Tangor **

First, I must confess that I like Westerns, even ERB's! Second, Bandit is one of the more successful mysteries Burroughs penned. The tale is, however, just below average for ERB. If you are only going to read one of ERB's western novels (there are 4, 5 if you include the marginally western Girl From Hollywood) then read The War Chief.

Nkima *

UNRATED.

AQ Porter ***

An enjoyable western, better than most I've read but not up to either ERB's or Zane Grey's best.


1923. Tarzan and the Ant Men


Beyond the Great Thorn Forest, Tarzan meets the Alali, a primitive, matriarchal society where men are treaded less than slaves, then enters the land of the tiny Ant Men where he is shrunk to their diminutive size. Note: Lupoff considers this book to be "a high point in the Tarzan series and for that matter in Burroughs' entire career."

Tangor ***

Antmen is one of the more socially amusing Tarzan tales where ERB's love of puns and reverses is fully expressed. A society were women rule, hunt, and fight and men are subservient domestic engineers is one aspect. His other reverse/pun was having the smallest human inhabitants of Tarzan's jungle (10 inches in height) are saddled with the longest names! I like Antmen for the amusment and creativity, however I am not all that impressed with the plot/conflict in the story.

Nkima **

I don't care that much for Ant Men. Misogynists need apply.

AQ Porter ***

Amusing primarily for the role-reversal among the Zertacolols and the introduction of the Minunians. The British/magazine version would rate only 2 stars.


1924. Marcia of the Doorstep


A contemporary tale of shipwrecks and romance. (First published in 2000 but was written in 1924.)

Tangor Unrated

Nkima *

They could have left this unpublished.

AQ Porter ****

I found this to be the best of ERB's "realistic" stories, in that it takes themes introduced in several other stories (THE MUCKER, THE OAKDALE AFFAIR, & THE GIRL FROM HOLLYWOOD, among others) and develops them further. Marcia is one of ERB's truly memorable heroines and Max Heimer is one of his truly memorable villains.


1925. The Moon Men


Julian the 9th in the year 2120 tells of life on earth under the Kalkars, who have captured the planet on 2050.

Tangor ***

The Moon Men is a revision of an earlier cautionary tale that was written in 1919 regarding the Russian Revolution and the Bolsheviks (Communisim) and for which ERB could find no publisher. He revised the book then had to write a prequel (The Moon Maid) to make the story palatable to the pulp editors. The Moon Men is one of the darkest, if not the darkest story Ed Burroughs ever penned. This vision of America under the thumbs of callous and evil rule by conquerors who embrace the State's interest first and human interests somewhere after the breeding of horses and pigs, is grand reading, particularly for those who have any interest in socio-political ideals. There is one other thing about Moon Men that makes it unique to all other stories by ERB but if I reveal that here it will spoil your enjoyment if you haven't already read this second novel of the Moon series.

Nkima **

The moon stuff bores me.

AQ Porter *

This one should probably be ranked higher on the basis of the food for thought it provides, but I just dind't like it. It's a downer, one of ERB's few.


1925. The Red Hawk


Julian the 20th in 2430 continues the war to destroy the last of the Kalkars. America has reverted to a near barbaric state and 400 years of war against the invaders has changed the people and the land.

Tangor **

I almost wish Burroughs had not written this lightweight tie up the loose ends make use of the framing device gimmick at least one more time tale of future history. This is the shortest of the three Moon stories and is rushed and deeply contrived, relying too heavily upon a Caucasians as Americian indians reverse culture premise. Worse, when it came time for ERB to compile all three Moon tales for the hard back publication the greatest cuts to the three occurred in Moon Men and Red Hawk, making these tales even weaker.

Nkima **

More moon stuff. The Indian idea is almost palatable.

AQ Porter ****

The culmination of the moon series. I found the Romeo-and-Juliet tale of The Red Hawk and Griselda to be thoroughly enjoyable, and the long-awaited defeat of the Kalkars wraps the series up nicely.


1925. The Master Mind of Mars


Ras Thavas, the premier physician of Toonol has perfected brain transplants; Valla Dia's lovely body is given to an ancient hag. Earthman Ulyssess Paxton will not rest until the girl's mind is restored to her body.

Tangor ****

This tale of Barsoom narrow missed getting a five star from Tangor. The characters are well-drawn, motivations and plot turns are excellent portrayed, and the world of Barsoom is again elevated to stardom. I can only imagine how truly wonderful ERB's predictions of future medical techniques must have appeared to the readers of the first quarter of the Twentieth Century.

Nkima ****

I love Master Mind. It's a great read.

AQ Porter *****

I've probably overrated this one because it was one of the first Barsoom stories I read, and it made a more profound impression on me than it probably would have had I read it in its proper sequence. But Ulysses Paxton is a Burroughs hero in the heroic mold, Valla Dia is a heroine worth fighting for, and the spoof of organized fundamentalism in Phundahl is the icing on the cake.


1926. The War Chief


The white survivior of an Indian raid is raised as an Apache. The Old West is portrayed through the eyes of Indians and settlers alike.

Tangor *****

Perhaps the best ERB novel ever written, Ed Burroughs turned to his personal knowledge and interest of the American Southwest to write a compelling tale of the struggle between Native Americans and the Settlers. Both sides of the conflict are portrayed, and neither come off as righteous. Shoz-Dijiji is yet another incarnation of Tarzan of the Apes; an infant raised into a culture not his originally—although this time around the culture is human, not ape. I consider The War Chief a must read.

Nkima ***

A very good Indian novel, but I'm not reading it again. I don't like white's raised by Indians who out-Indian Indians. Burroughs really hit on something here though. He had a real feeling for the West and wrote about Indians with sympathy. I think his Apache novels have been underrated, but then ERB is not noted as a Western writer. Maybe these stories have just been overlooked.

AQ Porter ****

With APACHE DEVIL, which continues the story, this is the best of ERB's westerns, by far. Burroughs manages to make Geronimo, one of the most feared men in the late XIX century, into a sympathetic character, while contrasting the Apache and white ways of life in the person of Shoz-Dijiji, the "Apache Devil."


1926. Tarzan and The Tarzan Twins


Dick and Doc visit Tarzan at his African estate, wander off into the jungle where they are captured by cannibals. Note: This volume is a highly sought-after collector's item despite its lack of stature in the Tarzan canon. It is not one of the great middle period stories.

Tangor *

Written for the juvenile market, this tale of cousins (the Twins) in Greystoke's jungle is simply and directly written. It is not one of the better tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but is important as an attempt to write directly to a specific market.

Nkima *

Skip it.

AQ Porter ***

Begins the third and weakest segment of the Tarzan story. Better than most of those that followed, and should have been reprinted in its proper place in the sequence.


1927. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle


The adventures of James Hunter Blake in the lost Valley of the Sepulcher, inhabited by descendants of British crusaders (Knights Templars). Strangely, Tarzan plays a rather secondary role in this well-written tale.

Tangor **

The beginning of the end—for Tarzan and a major character in his own series until Foreign Legion. Previously in the series we have a number of secondary characters who provide color and interest, but who always depended upon Tarzan. Starting here we see a minor plot change in the Tarzan tales where the secondary characters become more important than Tarzan as far as developing the story line goes. Tarzan becomes a troubleshooter, an agent, or perhaps, a sheriff operating in the jungle instead of the Wild West.

Nkima **

A mildly entertaining story about Blake. Tarzan isn't really needed.

AQ Porter ***

This one is full of anachronisms. Mark Twain did it better in A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. Tarzan is relegated to a minor role.


1927. Apache Devil


The story begun in The War Chief is brought to a dramatic conclusion.

Tangor ****

Apache Devil continues the tale of Jerry Duncan—Shoz-Dijiji—and the losing battle between Geronimo and the white-eyes. Add to the mix of desperate times for the Indians the romance between Shoz-Dijiji and a white girl and things become very interesting. Only marginally less superior to ERB's body of works than The War Chief this novel is very well written and is a must read.

Nkima ***

ERB wrote 4 Westerns. The ones with Indian titles are good; the others can be read by fans.

AQ Porter ****

As with APES/RETURN, PRINCESS/GODS, and AT THE EARTH'S CORE/PELLUCIDAR, this one continues a story begun in its predecessor and shares its ranking.


1927-30. You Lucky Girl!


Stage Play in Three Acts. A contemporary play written as a possible vehicle for Burroughs' daughter, the action follows the loyalty and sacrifice of Bill, who is accused of bank robbery, and the determination of Corrie to be an independent and working woman. The exact date for this piece is not clear, but had to have been written between 1927 and 1930. Remained unpublished until 2000.

Tangor **

YLG was among the unpublished works found in the company safe years after the author's death. It was eventually produced for the stage in 1996. The stage play was published in 2000. Many of the traditional features of the ERB formula are evident in the action and dialog, as well as a rather insightful statement by the lead actress regarding over population.

Nkima *

Skip it.

AQ Porter ***

Amusing, but worthwhile primarily as an example of what ERB was capable of in the drama field. Probably written while his daughter Joan was trying to break into theatre.


1928. Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with Jad-Bal-Ja the Golden Lion


This is the second Tarzan Twin book. In it the "Twins" again become lost in the jungle where they meet a group of renegade Oparians.

Tangor Unrated

Nkima *

Skip it.

AQ Porter ****

The main significance of this one is that it introduces the von Harben family and includes the Oparians.


1928. Tarzan and the Lost Empire


Tarzan searches for Erich von Harben in the Wiramwazi Mountains and finds two outposts of ancient Rome (Castra Sanguinarius and Castrum Mare) locked in a struggle with one another for almost two thousand years.

Tangor **

By this novel in the Tarzan series, Tangor's interests begin to sag. The author still tells a bang up tale, but it isn't a tale much different from the one previous or the one coming next.

Nkima **

A fun time in ancient Rome with Tarzan.

AQ Porter ***

The two-warring-cities theme is beginning to get a bit tired by now. Erich von Harben replaces Tarzan as the principal protagonist.


1928. Tanar of Pellucidar


The story of Tanar the Fleet One, son of Ghak the Hairy One, who battles across a savage world accompanied by the Korsar girl, Stellara. The Korsars were descendants of 17th or 18th century pirates (Corsairs) who were swept down to Pellucidar through an opening at the North Pole and who still practice piracy on the high seas of Pellucidar led by The Cid and by Bohar the Bloody. (Note: Burroughs tells us that he was informed of this story by Abner Perry via Gridley Wave transmissions from the inner core of the Earth.

Tangor **

Burroughs centers this tale of Pellucidar around a native rather than his established hero David Innes. A richly textured novel of moderate complexity, Tanar cleverly provides further "proof" of the polar openings by the introduction of the Korsar society.

Nkima **

A love story with underground pirates.

AQ Porter ***

The beginning of the decline of the Pellucidar series. Of interest mainly because it sets the stage for —


1928-29. Tarzan at the Earth's Core


Tarzan travels aboard the dirigible, the 0-220 with a crew of Americans, Africans, and German airmen to the savage, prehistoric land of Pellucidar in the center of the earth to rescue David Innes from the Korsars. This book is also considered to be the 4th book in the Pellucidar Series, providing interesting links in Burroughsian characters and themes.

Tangor ***

A cross-over tale, Tarzan enters the world of Pellucidar and finds his hands full! Burroughs' ape-man is presented quite well in an environment that is sufficiently different enough to downplay some of his superior survival skills we have come to accept as standard in the Tarzan stories. I like this novel as a logical extension to both the Tarzan and Pellucidarian sagas.

Nkima ***

Potboiler. I read it twice, but never again.

AQ Porter ****

One of the better middle Tarzans; but Jason Gridley is really the main (and most interesting) character.


1929. A Fighting Man of Mars


Tan Hadron of Hastor encounters war, horror, and super science, and through it all, friends are made and a true love is found.

Tangor ***

Much as I love the Barsoom series, Fighting Man is merely average—but an average Barsoom tale is usually superior to most other novels written by ERB! In this story our central character is not John Carter, but a young prince of Hastor who races after the abductors of the woman he thinks he loves, and ends up find the woman he really loves.

Nkima ****

Fighting Man is a great adventure tale. I would even read it again. Probably the last decent novel ERB ever wrote with a few exceptions. I think that by and large the novels and stories of the 1930's are a desert.

AQ Porter ****

A personal favorite, which I probably rank higher than it deserves simply on the basis of Tavia, who is not your typical insipid heroine.


1929. Jungle Girl (Land of Hidden Men)


Gordon King, explorer, enters the Cambodian jungle and finds a lost civilization—and romance.

Tangor *

I first read this some thirty years ago and came away with the impression it was just another "formula romance." However, I just read it recently (for a Summaries Project) and found it wasn't quite as simplistic as I remembered. Still, this one would not go on a short list of must reads.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

Another warring-cities potboiler, but with Gordon King in Tarzan's place. Is is time travel, as John Roy speculated, or merely a lost-race novel of the type so popular in the twenties?


1930. Tarzan the Invincible


Tarzan returns to the lost Atlantian city of Opar for the 4th and final time, again to rescue La from the treachery of her own people. Tarzan struggles against Arab slave raiders and communist agents as well.

Tangor *

About this time in his career I am sure ERB was wondering where the next inspiration for Tarzan might come—this one certainly came from rehashing or re-thrashing previous themes.

Nkima **

Dull. Note: This novel is considered by many to be a falling-off of Burroughs' powers as a novelist.

AQ Porter ****

I give this one four stars primarily because of La, but also because of the current-events angle, with Stalin attempting to set up a Soviet puppet state in Africa.


1930. The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County


A strange murder is investigated, and the deputy sheriff is one of the suspects!

Tangor *

I can't give this more than 1 star in comparison to the rest of ERB's works, but I must confess that I personally like Deputy Sheriff more than it deserves. I like the off-beat humor and social contraditions (and stereotyped bigotry between classes) and the strength of Kay White to survive the dastardly machinations of Cory Blaine. This is a comedy-mystery, folks. If you're looking for something more toothsome in an ERB western read any of the other three first.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

Another potboiler, but raised above the average by Buck Mason's disguise as Bruce Marvel. One I reread fairly regularly.


1931. Tarzan Triumphant


The adventures of Lady Barbara Collis and Lafayette Smith in the lost city of "Midianites," degenerate descendants of early Christians marooned in Africa. Tarzan plays a rather minor role in this novel filled with many colorful characters, including Danny "Gunner" Patrick, a Chicago gangster.

Tangor *

Other than a colorful cast of characters, Triumphant is rather less than that as a Tarzan tale.

Nkima *

Tarzan happens in and out of this story that trashes Christianity.

AQ Porter **

Lady Barbara Collis is the main reason this one gets a second star, followed by Danny "Gunner" Patrick. Otherwise unmemorable.


1931. Tarzan and the Leopard Men


The amnesiac Tarzan believes that he is a Muzimo, the spirit or demon ancestor of the native Orando. Together they fight the savage Leopard Men, whose secret cult practices human sacrifice.

Tangor *

This novel has its moments, particularly in some philosophical insights ERB offers as regards war, but even though this was the second highest earning pulp novel ERB wrote ($8,000), it unfortunately lowers the Tarzan standard of excellence in adventure reading by a significant factor.

Nkima *

Another Tarzan. Based on a theme he picked up by reading Stanley—more second-rate Tarzan.

AQ Porter ***

Tarzan loses his memory again. 'Nuff said.


1931. Pirates of Venus


Carson Napier is the "Wrong Way Corrigan" of space. Setting out to land on Mars, he ends up on savage, cloud-covered Venus!

Tangor ***

The Venus series by Burroughs is every bit as fantastic and adventerous as his other created worlds, but the character of Carson Napier as hero is more light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek than the brooding ape-man or the militaristic warlord. The entire series also serves as a platform from which Ed Burroughs offers political and social commentary.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ****

Carson Napier is no John Carter, so the planet itself is the major attraction throughout this series.


1931-32. Tarzan and the City of Gold


Tarzan's adventures continue with two lost cities — Athne, city of ivory, and Cathne, the city of gold with its beautiful, mad queen, Nemone and her prides of trained lions.

Tangor **

Burroughs' production values (his formula) prevented him from writing a really bad story with no entertainment value whatsoever. Occasionally, however, the characters of these middle ho-hum Tarzan tales manage to elevate the overall novel. Nemone is an example of crafting a memorable character in a relatively unmemorable story.

Nkima **

This is a better late Tarzan, but just a little better. Nothing new.

AQ Porter ***

Yet another warring-cities potboiler, with Nemone as the only redeeming feature.


1932. Pirate Blood


A fellow with no future makes one among devilish pirates of the south seas.

Tangor **

ERB experimented with extensions of his tried and true story-telling format by selecting characters with little or no social conscience as the major players. The novel appears to be a draft—a fairly well-done first half and extremely rushed second half. If as much attention had been made to the second half of Pirate Blood as the opening chapters, I have no doubt this novel would have received a three star rating from Tangor. Pirate Blood is more earthy than any other ERB novel and should be read for that simple curiosity alone.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter **

I found this one to be unmemorable. Johnny Lafitte is a second-rate Billy Byrne, without a Barbara Harding to make him want to lift himself above his origins.


1932. Lost on Venus


Napier and his Vepajan princess must escape confinement and danger.

Tangor ***

Napier's second outing as ERB hero further refines the character's devil-may-care humor and bully pulpit for expressing ERB's political viewpoints. At the same time Lost is an excellent second in a series were the hero and heroine are involved in an exciting and extended chase/escape/chase adventure.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

Memorable primarily for the utopian/dystopian concept of Havatoo.


1933 Tarzan and the Lion Man


Tarzan saves an American movie company safari from intelligent gorillas who live in their jungle town of London on the Thames, ruled by King Henry the Eighth.

Tangor **

ERB's sense of humor and pointed commentary as regards the Hollywood system make this, the highest paid pulp ($10,000) very amusing. Otherwise, Lion Man is run of the mill middle Tarzan. Can be read out of sequence, so save it for later and read the better Tarzan novels first.

Nkima *

Mildly funny.

AQ Porter ***

This one would have rated only two stars except for the last chapter.


1933. Swords of Mars


Carter goes undercover to break the Guild of Assassins. The science of Zodanga makes possible a trip into space to a Barsoomian moon.

Tangor **

You must read Swords to continue the planetary and social explorations of Barsoom, but if you're looking for a classic John Carter tale, this is not it. The Carter in Swords is the first expression of the wise-cracking wanderer we next meet in Synthetic and Llana of Gathol, but not as well done as found in the later tales.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

I found this to be the least interesting of the Mars books. But that still puts it ahead of 95% of the books I have read.


1934-35. Tarzan's Quest


Tarzan rescues the daughter of Muviro, chief of the Waziri, and Jane from the mysterious Kavuru, who have immortality pills.

Tangor ***

Quest restores some of the magic and mystery to the ape-man. The Jane found in this novel is more self-assured than the one we met early in the series.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter *****

Far and away the best of the middle-series Tarzans. Jane has become a truly worthy mate of the ape-man. I believe it belongs earlier in the series than its publication date would indicate.


1935. Back to the Stone Age


This novel begins as a flash-back story to the moment of the tiger-mammoth fight in Tarzan at the Earth's Core (Pellucidar #4/Tarzan #13)). It is Lieutenant Wilhelm Von Horst's story on Pellucidar, one with many strange adventures with a trodon, the cannibalistic Bastians, the Gorbuses of the Forest of Death, the Mammoth Men of Ja-ru, the Gahaks, and a final, happy reunion with the cave girl, La-ja of Lo-thar.

Tangor ***

I would rather have given a 2½ star rating for this Pellucidar adventure featuring Von Horst, but since we aren't using those and because Stone Age is better than a 2 star, I bumped it up a bit. ERB had fun with this one and it shows to the reader with fresh innovations as far as Pellucidar is concerned. Many of the themes presented are evident in earlier works by Burroughs, so there really isn't anything "new" to discover.

Nkima **

OK if you want to read more Pellucidar stuff.

AQ Porter ***

The Pellucidar series was really beginning to run out of steam by this time. The only memorable character is La-ja.


1935-36. Tarzan the Magnificent


This book consists of two novellas: "Tarzan and the Magic Men" in which Tarzan rescues Stanley Wood, an American travel writer, from the Kaju (a tribe of warrior women) and the strange magician who ruled them by the power of the Gonfal, a huge diamond with hypnotic powers. And "Tarzan and the Elephant Men" in which Tarzan goes to Athne (the City of Ivory) first encountered in Tarzan and the City of Gold.

Tangor **

Like many series writers, ERB eventually began to run out of ideas. That he could successfully revisit his own work with entertaining tales is a sign of good writing. Magnificent rehashes gender mixups and magic, and lost cities we've seen before.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter **

I thought this was the nadir of the Tarzan series until I read MADMAN.


1936. The Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw


A humorous, though tragic, excursion into the bizarre world of cryogenics.

Tangor **

Jimber-Jaw is about the best of the short fiction Ed Burroughs produced. Told in a "fast talkies" style, very tongue-in-cheek, ERB explores what happens to human relations/understanding when separated by 50 millenia—and illustrates that the quality which makes us human has remained fairly constant throughout the ages.

Nkima *

Light weight, mildly humorous, but certainly not up to Twain or Wells.

AQ Porter **

An interesting character sketch of a cave man suddenly brought into modern society and his attempt to cope.


1937. Carson of Venus


War; ugly and horrible, embroils an American aviator and his princess.

Tangor ****

With Carson of Venus Burroughs reaches the high point of the Amtorian series. Napier's wit, and wits, are fully exercised in this novel-length political parody. Carson and Duare come closer to fully connecting romantically—which probably represents the longest period any ERB hero had to suffer before the lady becomes agreeable.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ****

Probably the best of the Amtor series, largely on the basis of the political satire.


1937. Tarzan and the Forbidden City


Tarzan goes to the underwater city of Ashair in search of the adventurer Brian Gregory, who was drawn there by rumors of the Father of Diamonds, the world's largest gem.

Tangor *

Really moving to the lowest point in the Tarzan series. Like Nkima, I read it once as a kid and have not read it as an adult. As my opinion changed slightly as regards Leopard Men this last year, it is possible Forbidden City might age better with time.

Nkima *

According to Lupoff and others, this book along with Tarzan and the Leopard Men represents the worst of the Tarzan series. Read it when I was a kid but not since.

AQ Porter ***

Another one out of sequence. Internal evidence indicates that it should immediately follow RETURN. It would probably rank lower if I hadn't read it early on, before the warring-cities theme began to pall on me.


1938. Synthetic Men of Mars

(Mars #9)

Science run amok! Barsoom threatened by a voracious, ever-growing blob of artificial life from the laboratories of Ras Thavas.

Tangor ***

John Carter plays bit part in this tale of science unchecked. I like the characters, the sub-plots (Dejah Thoris is dying) and the world upon the actors play. Burroughs attempted to inject "real" science into this tale to offer explanations to the more demanding pulp readers who were finding it difficult to believe in Barsoom when so much as being learned about Mars and the heavens.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ****

This one takes the ideas in THE MONSTER MEN and carries them one step further, as Ras Thavas returns to create artificial men on a wholesale basis.


1939-39. Land of Terror


The adventures of David Innes as he fought to get back to Sari after becoming separated from his men on the journey back from Lo-har. He encountered Amazonian warriors, black slave takers, and even giant ants along the way.

Tangor No stars

You really have to want to finish the Pellucidar series to wade through this disjointed collection of short novellas crudely interlinked for book publication.

Nkima *

OK Pellucidar stuff. Note: Lupoff reports that this book brings the series to a nadir. Plotting is perfunctory, pace is poor, and reader involvement is totally annihilated.

AQ Porter **

This is definitely the nadir of the Pellucidar series — disjointed, clueless, and plotless.


1939. Tarzan and the Castaways


Tarzan discovers a lost colony of Mayans on an uncharted Pacific island. This book also includes two short stories: "Tarzan the Champion," in which Tarzan fights a world champion boxer, and "Tarzan and the Jungle Murders," in which Tarzan acts as a detective.

Tangor No stars

Castaways is the worst of the Tarzan tales, my opinion. Avoid it if you can. However, the two shorts usually published under the same title (Champion, Murders) are delightful. Each of these would get a two star rating from Tangor.

Nkima *

Skip it.

AQ Porter ***

This one is really three stories. Burroughs was clearly aware that the Tarzan series had reached a point of stagnation, and was casting about for ways to revitalize it. The three stories that make up this book represent three different attempts; in my opinion, only the title story is successful in doing so.


1940. Tarzan and the Madman


Tarzan follows another Tarzan impersonator (the madman of the title) to the lost city of Alemtejo

Tangor No stars

No doubt about it at this point of the series—ERB is desperately cranking out titles for income and the lack of writer's spirit found in Madman explains the slap-dash composition.

AQ Porter *

Another Tarzan look-alike; another pair of warring cities. Ho hum. Without a doubt the poorest of the Tarzan novels, and one of the poorest ERB ever wrote any time.


1940. Escape on Venus


Crossing the Amtorian equator, Carson and Duare encounter new and more exotic cultures, both barbaric and civilized.

Tangor **

After the high point of Carson of Venus the interconnected shorts found in Escape are less satifying.

Nkima Umrated

AQ Porter **

The Amtorian equivalent of LAND OF TERROR.


1940. Llana of Gathol


John Carter, his granddaughter and Pan Dan Chee of Horz have a series of adventures among invisible men, Black Pirates, and a conquest-mad Jeddak.

Tangor **

Like the vast majority of ERB's stories in the late 1930s and early 1940s, this book is a collection of short novellas, two superior, two pot-boilers, yet the overall effect of the wise-cracking John Carter, though amusing enough, interfers with the plot tones and the world view.

Nkima

UNRATED. I've read parts of it, and it seems that Carter is back in a bragging, superhero mode, and that particular John Carter and his "incomparable" Dejah can be a bit much. I prefer the panthans, underdogs — John Carter before he became the holy hero lord of two worlds with his invincible sword arm.

AQ Porter ****

The first Barsoom book since WARLORD in which John Carter plays a major role. Unlike some of those originally written as four connected novelettes, this one works for me.


1940. Savage Pellucidar


ERB himself wrote a jacket blurb, which came too late to be included with the first book edition. It reads in part, "Girl of Pellucidar... A tale not alone of the adventures of the girl, O-aa; but of those which befell Hodon the Fleet One and Dian the Beautiful and Abner Perry and David Innes and the little old man from Cape Cod, whose name was not Dolly Dorcas, and many others."

Tangor **

ERB cranked out almost as many words at the end of his career as when he started—a mad rush of creation and inventiveness on the front end and a basketful of entertaining, though not particularly improved over his existing formulaic works. This series of four novellas is an example.

Nkima **

Not bad, not real good. Lupoff reports a considerable improvement in this novel over #'s 5 and 6. It is actually a group of four interconnected novelettes, typical of Burroughs' late style of writing.

AQ Porter ****

Another one that was originally four novelettes that works, largely because Hodon and O-aa provide a sense of continuity that was lacking in LAND OF TERROR.


1940. Beyond the Farthest Star


In 1939 an Allied fighter pilot is killed, only to mysteriously appear 450,000 light years away on another world at war.

Tangor **

I want to give this a three star because Burroughs was finally creating new things again, but the short length of the story, the hurried pace, the repeat again of a world a war into a hero is plunged is not as intriguing the umpteenth time around.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

Hard to rank this one and the following, as this is a story that Burroughs never finished. In the absence of a conclusion, I have to say it is only average for ERB.


1940. Tangor Returns


This sequel, though written at the same time as Beyond The Farthest Star, was unpublished until 1964.

Tangor **

See my rating above as I read both parts in the ACE SF edition.

Nkima Unrated

AQ Porter ***

The previous note applies here as well.


1941. Wizard of Venus

(Venus #5) (Unpublished until 1970)

Carson is caught between two cities at habitual war, and one is populated by zombies!

Tangor *

Wizard was found in the company safe and published some 14 years after the author's death. In many respects I wish it had remained unpublished as Wizard is a very unsatisfying end to the otherwise entertaining Amtorian series.

Nkima *

Not nearly as good as Twain or even Baum.

AQ Porter ***

Who knows what this one might have turned into? Burroughs wrote two pages of a second novelette in this series, but dropped it at the bombing of Pearl Harbor and never went back to it. Pity.


1941. I Am A Barbarian


An historical novel from the time of Caligula.

Tangor **

ERB's knowledge of Roman history at the time the novel takes place is fairly accurate and few historical liberties are taken to create his characters. I enjoy this story while I am reading it—as I usually do when immersed in an ERB—but later the after taste of I Am A Barbarian leaves a little to be desired.

Nkima ***

I liked this story. I like stories in ancient Rome without pity for syrupy Christians being eaten by lions.

AQ Porter *

Another downer. Lew Wallace did the Roman thing better.


1941. John Carter of Mars (Giant of Mars and Skeleton Men of Jupiter)


Two tales, one of Carter's adventures on Jupiter (Skeleton) and a story written by ERB's son (Giant), John Coleman Burroughs.

Tangor **

The Tangor two star rating is intended to embrace ERB's Skeleton Men of Jupiter rather than John Carter and the Giant of Mars which was written by John Coleman Burroughs and perhaps later expanded with some help from ERB. The two stars is also given for the dogged determination to continue his first, and most inventive, created world. The story itself, however, is yet another of the more worldly and semi-sophisticated John Carter we True Fans of Barsoom love to loathe. If you've read the Barsoom series to this point, then YOU deserve a five star rating for hanging in there through thick and thin!

Nkima *

J.C. the overly impressive warlord of two worlds is back. At least ERB didn't write this one.

AQ Porter *

This one deserves two rankings: one for GIANT and a separate one for SKELETON MEN. I enjoyed GIANT (even if JCB wrote it), but can't say the same for SKELETON MEN (even if ERB wrote it). Another cliffhanger awaiting an ending.


1944. Tarzan and the Foreign Legion


During World War II Tarzan fights the Japanese on the occupied island of Sumatra with the aid of the crew of a downed bomber, and an internationally divergent cast of allies (his "Foreign Legion").

Tangor *****

Written during the Twentieth Century's most devastating and costly war, this final novel of Tarzan is as good a Tarzan tale as it is a commentary on the horrors of war—war that ERB has just recently experienced first hand as the oldest war correspondent during World War II. This Tarzan is the Tarzan that Lord Greystoke must have become after all his years of wandering through lost cities in potboiler plots. This Tarzan is a modern man who retains his special jungle skills and abilities and is a patriot and leader at a time when patriots and leaders are in desperate short supply. Today's readers who apply nearly 60 years of political correctness to the words written during a time of war and matching public sentiment attempt to retroactively apply current viewpoints and thereby denigrate the importance of Tarzan reborn, ERB as a human being, or the publishers for printing the story. If the story is read with the mindset of the times in which it was written and for which it was intended, there is nothing out of place in Tarzan and "the Foreign Legion."

Nkima ***

This is the last Tarzan book Burroughs wrote, and as a departure from the generally poor quality of the last number of novels in this series, it is a rather good book. A pretty good Tarzan story. There are racial slurs on the "less than human Japs." ERB didn't learn a thing after slandering the Germans in his WWI novel. Propaganda. War is Hell but Tarzan is an Angel of Death in the jungle battlefield. I like it because a good Tarzan story is so unexpected near the end of his life.

AQ Porter ****

I found this to be the best Tarzan since QUEST. It seems that ERB had finally found a way to get the Tarzan series out of the doldrums of the middle series (presaged by CASTAWAYS) — by bringing him into the modern world. I found it noteworthy that Tarzan's motivation in World War II was patriotism, rather than personal vengeance as in World War I — another indication of his continual growth as a human being.


Tangor's Comments

About a year or so back (perhaps longer as these little grey cells do not work as well as they used to) Nkima and I exchanged a series of emails that were an outgrowth of exchanges originally based upon the ERBList Summaries Project and our affection and interest in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. One of the items exchanged was a rapid-fire Tangor description and mini-summary of ERB's novels—none longer than one or two sentences each. Nkima liked this little aid (and so did the Polodan!).

A few weeks back Nkima broached the subject of rating the novels. I thought that was a nifty keen idea as long as we offered our own commentary to support such ratings—like Siskel and Ebert did for the movies. Nkima inserted an additional fiendish twist to the project that we should review the novels in the order they were written. This seemed like a great idea since such a list, with reader commentary, might be helpful in revealing writing trends explored by the Grand Master of Adventure during his career.

You will find only PUBLISHED works of ERB in this admittedly personal and subjective ranking of ERB novels. If it isn't in print the story will not appear here. The only unpublished title that is mentioned is Under the Red Flag, a story ERB wrote in 1919 that was the basis for his story The Moon Men. Call the listing a place marker since I put our rankings and reviews of The Moon Men in 1925—because that was probably near the year when he revised Under the Red Flag to become the second in the Moon series.

You will also find novels which are UNRATED by either Nkima or Tangor. For Tangor an UNRATED means that I have not yet read the story. For Nkima an UNRATED means he has either not read the story, or has not yet had time to rank the novel.

We hope you enjoy the list, rankings, and commentary. We also urge you to comment freely on the ERB list servers as regards your subjective rankings of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. If there is enough interest I might expand this listing to include personalized rankings from others who are willing to stick their necks out and definitively rank and comment on the the works of ERB. That means anyone interested in providing another viewpoint ala Tangor & Nkima has to rank at least 20 novels. I do not have the time to post one-up responses from the rank and file; project time is too precious.

But there's something exciting that can happen if YOU do decide to rank the novels:...the value that I received from doing these rankings was a more precise understanding of ERB's writing habits, his early and mid-career successes, and his later desperation in the market to sell anything that he could; and lastly the great one's return to telling stories that he personally liked.

Burroughs made no bones from Day One about his desire to write for money. He knew that he could write at least as badly as the then current crop of authors on the market. Over the years he offered a better than journeyman's product throughout his career. He experimented a little here and there—and hid most of those experiments in the company safe. When he did stretch his wings in public (ie, published) we often find a tale that extends or bends the famous ERB formula in ways that intrigue us.

For the most part I am pretty much set in my ways. The rankings I have offered have been honed over a 40 year period. However, I would like to make clear that my rankings within a created world series are ranked within the world series itself and are not precise rankings as regards the entire body of works published by Burroughs.

For example, my rank of two stars for Swords of Mars would actually be a three star rank if related to the middle Tarzans, the late Pellucidar novels, or the Venus series. By the same token, some Tangor ranked two star Tarzan novels would be higher ranked than the one-off novels like The Efficiency Expert, Girl From Farris's, or Man-Eater.

Anything I have rated as a NO STARS ranking is, in my opinion, a waste of the reader's time and is an indication that ERB was not at his potboiling average and nothing near his oft-times brilliance.

I expect many to disagree with the rankings Nkima and I have published. I expect that many will ardently defend personally favorite novels. Good! I suspect that those tales defended will have been first or early read tales by the Grand Master of Adventure, and that those stories have have formed the basis of a fan's life-long enjoyment of ERB.

Nkima and I are not concerned how you came to be an ERB fan. We're simply grateful that you are here!


Nkima's Comments

My view of the novels and stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs fall in a place somewhere ahead of Haggard and Verne, but below London and Wells as literature. However, their importance to my life goes far beyond considerations of art.

When I sent my first list of ratings to Tangor they were on a four-star system developed for the Haggard novels. I thought that it was in interesting idea to rate the works of a single writer within his own body of works rather than with the whole world of literature at large. As Tangor has written to me, I too really like all of Burroughs' work and will probably end up rereading things again and again despite what I have indicated in my ratings. As a Burroughs scholar, it is necessary to know all of the works, and something of value can be found in every story.

These ratings reveal my subjective feelings about each story. It might have been more valuable to do the ratings for the Burroughs neophyte, but Tangor thinks this will turn out to be the same thing. Perhaps he is correct because the reader of this page will have at least two viewpoints to consider. It might also be interesting to know that Tangor is a great fan of the Barsoomian novels after a childhood as a Tarzan fan, while Nkima is a Tarzan fan since childhood who is slowly reading through the Mars Series and the other books as the spirit leads.

I think the most interesting thing that I personally came up with by doing this little project was to put several things into focus:

I didn't fully realize how much I like the Mars Series. I really believe that most of the Barsoomian tales contain superior imaginative writing. I'll probably never become a great John Carter fan, but I do love the fairy tale quality of the stories.

I didn't realize how much I liked Tarzan the Terrible. I probably should have put Jungle Tales as a masterpiece in my book because I have read and reread them more than any other ERB texts. However, for now they remain just very good stories to me.

Since this is entirely subjective, I tried to be honest with my feelings. This does not mean that I will not rave later over any of some things I have given low ratings. I can work up a good deal of enthusiasm for books like Girl from Hollywood or Lad and the Lion because of what they mean in the writing development of Burroughs. I still think that Minidoka is largely an unexplored , fragmented, lost city that I plan to dig into some day.

My ratings place a lot on the low end, and many are still unrated, so I may not be the one to have teamed in this project. Feelings are volatile things, and most of the time I would rather crawl off into the trees and think things over until everything evens out to one grand Burroughsian novel that runs like a peaceful river Iss with gorgeous nightmares at the end.

Nothing is cut into stone for me. The odd thing is that ERB does "still live," and his works twist and turn like the patterns in a kaleidoscope as I get to know them better. I have never come back to one of his stories to find that it is less than I expected. They always seem to expand for me into stories that have larger meanings than even his words can tell.

All the writings of ERB are the grist in the mill of Nkima's soul. I personally read them as more than mere stories from the pen of a man interested in making a buck.

If you try to say anything halfway sensible about so many novels it is easy to be left with your foot in your mouth. If you don't believe this, do your own ratings and WRITE something about each of the novels. That is the purpose of this experiment anyway — rethinking Burroughs all at once. It should probably be done by every fan every three years or so.


Tangor's SHORT LIST

This short list of Five Star ERB rankings indicates any Five Star rating posted by either Tangor or Nkima. There are differences of opinion between these two giants of ERB affection and these differences are interesting since most are only a point or two divergent.

Reading the following two SHORT LISTS will reveal the top ERB tales as defined by Tangor & Nkima. The second list following will reveal the jointly agreed Five Star ERB novel rankings and will indicate, without a doubt, the BEST novels ERB ever wrote.

Of course, your mileage may vary!

The short list of any Five Star rankings by either Tangor or Nkima is, in order written:


A Princess of Mars

Tarzan of the Apes

Gods of Mars

The Cave Girl (includes The Cave Man)

Warlord of Mars

The Land That Time Forgot (Part 1)

Tarzan the Untamed

Tarzan the Terrible

Chessmen of Mars

The War Chief

Tarzan and the Foreign Legion"


The jointly agreed (Tangor and Nkima, no slight to the guests!) Five Star rankings are: (Drumroll, please!)


A Princess of Mars

Tarzan of the Apes


Whoa! The above makes for a mighty short Short List!

Fans of ERB have long recognized the importance and sheer entertainment value of Princess and Apes. Both of these stories are signature introductions to long running serials. Both exhibited a fresh imagination as regards adventure/romance novels and can be standalone excellence in story telling if push comes to shove and the reader never finds another followup.

The joint list above indicates 4 Barsooms and 4 Tarzans with either/or Five Star rankings. This reaffirms a tie as regards the really Short List of Barsoom and Tarzan even if the underlying rankings are off by a point.

The one ERB novel on the short list that surprised me (Tangor) is how closely Nkima and I ranked The Cave Girl. For me the other near misses of joint agreement are not as important. I really like The Cave Girl which is a lightweight romp of reformation of self and have always considered it most likely low on the average ERB fan's totem pole. That Nkima and I are "that close" on the high end indicates this often overlooked story has significant merit!

I am a bit surprised that Nkima and I are two points off as regards the novels The War Chief and Tarzan and "the Foreign Legion." I can only surmise that westerns in general are not among the nimble monkey's general interests and that the politically correct current reality has colored the fan from Michigan's viewpoint as regards the last Tarzan written.

There is a truly "last Tarzan written," but I doubt that the rank and file will raise praises to Joe R. Lansdale for completing the fragment. Meanwhile, Phillip Jose Farmer's recent Dark Heart of Time is a pastiche, ie. an expansion of ERB's worlds written with permission and is not based on any specific work by Burroughs.

In any event the short list has been presented. And it is Solid Gold.