ERB Book Reviews
Edgar Rice Burroughs book reviews from fans like you.
Tarzan and the Leopard Men
Reviewed by: David Bruce Bozarth 1999-04-10
Tarzan and the Leopard Men is one of the "middle" Tarzans... a series of books that has the ape-man wandering all over Africa encountering strange cultures, lost civilizations, or as in this case, mysterious cults. It is a fine example of how bad a Tarzan novel can be and still be an enjoyable read.
The basic premise is Tarzan loses his memory after a tree falls on him and he is saved by a native named Orando. Orando is a superstitious fellow who believes the white giant must be a muzimo, or spirit. Tarzan befriends Orando and takes on the troubles of Orando's tribe, which is plagued by a secret cult of leopard worshipping natives who murder with metal talons on their hands and then perform ritualistic cannibalism. Very bad guys, very evil, and only Tarzan can expose the secret order of the Leopard Men.
To complicate things there's an interesting sub-plot regarding three whites in the same area. Two are ex-patriate Americans known as The Kid and Old Timer and the third is a woman the natives call Kali Bwana. The white men are sometimes ivory poachers, not very successful ones, and times have been hard. When Old Timer takes off to explore for elephant in a different direction, he comes across Kali Bwana who is in Africa searching for a white man and is now alone after Leopard Men have attacked and killed her native safari. Old Timer is a woman-hater, injured by a lady back home, but is a fellow unwilling to leave a woman alone in the jungle.
The tale has many plot twists which are familiar to long time readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs. For the most part the well-tested ERB Tarzan formula works, but at times becomes tedious, yet if one endures and pays attention we find a great many nuggets of Tarzan trivia within the pages of Tarzan and the Leopard Men. One such nugget is the author's revelation that the mangani are not truly apes, but are an evolutionary off-shoot that is between apes and man.
Tarzan eventually recovers his memory about halfway through the book and from that point on things begin to move rather rapidly. There's a lot of sex (understated) and violence (intimated) and blood-letting (obvious) as well as the signature battle between Tarzan and a beast of the jungle. We also have four instances in which the ape-man SMILES and that, dear readers, is a most UNcommon occurrance!
Though Tarzan and the Leopard Men generally ranks rather low within the series, the true fan of Tarzan of the Apes will not wish to miss this one.