Reynwood’s Reviews: Tarzan of the Apes

Hello, everyone, and happy middle of September! The weather this past week has really turned around from what we were anticipating — it’s gorgeous up here, like summer is giving us its last ‘hurrah’ before forfeiting his place to autumn’s graces. There’s only one week left before the calendar autumn commences (the 22nd), and school has already begun (this is week two for us, I believe). But instead of pining over that finished season and mourning the coming cold, why not remember with fondness all the great memories this summer has held for us? What people did you see and spend time with? What projects did you undertake and accomplish? Any milestones reached? What good books have you put under your belt while basking in the sunshine or taking refuge in the shade, hunkering down next to the livingroom lamp on balmy, black nights just to find out what happens next?

For myself, the latest one was Tarzan of the Apes, a classic story from the early 20th century (first appearance, 1912), and it truly was a great read.


20308032Title: Tarzan of the Apes (#1)

Series: Tarzan

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs

My rating: 5 of 5


In 1888 Lord and Lady Clayton sail from England but to West Africa and perish on a remote island. When their infant son is adopted by fanged, great anthropoid apes, he is Tarzan of the Apes. His intelligence and caring mother raise him to be king. Self-educated by his parents’ library, Tarzan rescues genteel Jane Porter from the perils of his jungle.

My Thoughts:

As I’ve mentioned before in a previous review on one of these stories, I LOVE Tarzan. My first exposure to this fantastic tale was Disney’s cartoon adaption, which we all know tends to vastly rewrite the original. I fell in love with that story and, years later, fell in love with the original, too. But they are very, very different in many respects.

In this story we get to know Tarzan’s human parents far more before they perish, making sure we understand Tarzan’s exceptional breeding as an English lordling. However, it isn’t at the hands of a leopard that they die, but by the hands of Kerchak the King of Apes. Yes, apes. Not gorillas. I’ll admit, I was a little sad to note this, plus the fact that the creatures were represented far more like animals in their natural light than Disney’s tendency to humanize them, but Kala was still a devoted mother. She was the only one in all the tribe ─ largely the entire jungle ─ whom Tarzan actually loved, and you felt for him when she was killed by the newly arrived human natives.

Tarzan proves rather indifferent when it comes to killing and a bit devilish when tormenting his mother’s killers, and yet we see that he can be noble and very loyal. He is clever and ingenious with a mind that learns like a sponge. He likes to spend as much time as possible in the cabin on the beach built by his human father (John Clayton, Lord Greystoke) whom he never knew, playing with all the curiosities of human civilization stowed there, but mostly the books. Now, Burroughs has Tarzan learn how to read and write English through these books, and while I could condone perhaps some basics with word/picture association, I found it odd that he could grasp the language to the extent that he did without any teaching. But that was my biggest issue. He understands that he isn’t an ape after all, but a Man, and so when a party of his paler complexioned people arrive on shore he is very curious and hopeful of meeting them ─ but shy ─ and he can’t understand a lick of spoken English in which to readily communicate with them. These people include, of course, Jane and her father, but no gorilla hunting madmen. This is when the story really veers from the more familiar Disney version, involving treasure hunts and kidnappings and rescues and a wee bit of romance. Tarzan loves Jane on first sight, and when he rescues her from a bull ape she loves him, too.

Happy ending, right? Nay!

Tarzan’s nobility and love are both tested when he must safeguard an injured French officer in the jungle instead of returning immediately from the rescue to the beach and his beloved. (He befriends the officer who teaches him to speak French). Then, by the time they get back to the cabin, it’s deserted! Tarzan has to travel up the coast of Africa to civilization and on for his love, but not to England. To America. Tarzan finds Jane in the foreign land of Wisconsin, rescuing her from a forest fire.

Happy ending now, right? Nay!

Tarzan is not the only one vying for dear Jane’s love, but so, too, is William Clayton (evidently Tarzan’s cousin) and a certain Mr. Canler, who is of a rather unsavory character, but is prevailing due to financial stresses on the part of the Porters. I could hardly bear to see how this was all going to go down, seeing as this original story is so different from the one I’ve been so familiar with, but then the story ends with a cryptic message and never says just who Jane is going to marry.

I just might have thrown the book were it mine and not already falling apart with age. Is Tarzan going to keep quiet about his newfound identity as the true Lord Greystoke and defer to his cousin or is he going to claim his title and his woman? I am sincerely hoping that the next volume will tell me, otherwise I might turn inside out.

The characters were awesome and the frank humor was great. I can certainly see how Burroughs became so popular a writer in his day, for his narrative and storytelling are engaging. I haven’t finished a book in so short a period of time in a good, long while and this one is definitely going on my list of absolute favorites.

Reynwood’s Reviews: Jungle Tales of Tarzan

13042641

Title: Jungle Tales of Tarzan

Series: Tarzan, #6

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs

My rating: 4 0f 5


Glorious tales of Tarzan’s early growth to manhood in the forest…
Tarzan, the heart of primeval Africa, escapes death on the horn of Buto the rhinoceros, saves the life of Tantor the elephant, sends the witchdoctor Bukawai to a terrible death, battle victoriously with his arch-enemy Numa the Lion, and slowly but surely fights his way to a mastery of his savage, unforgiving jungle.


My thoughts:

I fell in love with the story of Tarzan when I saw the Disney movie an age and a half ago, and got very excited when I recently found this book at a thrift store. I didn’t know at the time that this was a small part of a series of stories about Tarzan (and it’s pretty extensive, numbering 27 volumes). I felt the ‘dropped into the middle’ confusion, in having not read the preceding stories to explain current events more clearly, but bits and pieces were filled in as each tale progressed.

As is per usual, the Disney adaption is nothing like the original, but in my opinion neither one is better than the other. Tarzan is more of an incubus in the books, and it’s interesting to see the take on an human’s inquisitive mind when largely isolated from mankind and raised by apes. Not gorillas. Apes. There are native Africans in these tales, too, to which Tarzan is absolutely devilish due to an enmity I will not divulge. You might have a better idea if you’ve seen the most recent Tarzan film, The Legend of Tarzan, I believe it is. 

Each chapter is its own, self-contained story, adventures and exploits of our wild ‘ape-man’, and I found them fun — if not a little far-fetched at times. Nevertheless, I am certainly more than willing to go back and start from the beginning of this series!


Find out more about Edgar Rice Burroughs and his stories (which include the infamous Barsoom tales of John Carter on Mars!) on Goodreads!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Faded Sun Trilogy

57042Title: The Faded Sun Trilogy, omnibus edition

Series: The Faded Sun Trilogy

Author: C. J. Cherryh

My rating: 4 of 5


They were the mri — tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their society. For aeons this golden-skinned, golden-eyed race had provided the universe mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable ability. But now the mri have faced an enemy unlike any other — an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction. These “humans” are mass fighters, creatures of the herd, and the mri have been slaughtered like animals.

Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction. It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race: a warrior — one of the last survivors of his kind; a priestess of this honorable people; and a lone human — a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind. Can they retrace the galaxy-wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life?

“This is a powerful story…inspiring in its determination and feeling of strange loyalties and stranger courage. It sticks in the mind long after the last page is finished.”– Analog


My thoughts:

To begin with, I have to confess my significant lack of experience in the genre of science fiction, having never had as much of an affinity to outer space and flying ships and aliens as to swords and dragons and elves, but this intrigued me. People always tell you not to judge a book my its cover, but the truth of the matter is: we do. More often than not it’s the first thing a reader sees, and I love the artwork on the cover for this omnibus version. The synopsis begged me to give it a try, and the fact that it was an omnibus ─ with all three volumes in one package ─ sealed the deal.

I really enjoyed it. The Faded Sun Trilogy is not one of fast paced, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, which, unfortunately, may turn some people off. This is a shame. The story delves deeper into the characters and their motives for their decisions and actions, and Cherryh is truly detailed in her settings and plot. This is not something to read when you’re half asleep, because the depth and intricacy demands your full attention. It’s no bore, though, and I’ve stayed up too late on many a night entrenched in this world.

The variety and intricacy of the various species within this trilogy is amazing, exploring the culture, language, history, and physiology of the four involved, creating an unique and interesting environment with severely conflicting cultures and priorities that drives much of the convoluting relations between species.

And then there’s Duncan. His tactical mind, willing heart, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time make him the perfect vessel for the task he must undertake in this grand adventure through space and across worlds, becoming a lynch pin for the growing post-war conflict. The poor guy gets put through a lot of crap from the people who confess to loving him, whether as a son or brother, but his devotion and unwillingness to give in proves his character to those who would hate and reject him.

I think this is a great story worth every page; it has encouraged me to expand my genre horizons, and is that not, in the scheme of things, a sign of a worthy tale?

Reynwood’s Reviews: This Present Darkness

Title: This Present Darkness

Series: Darkness (#1)

Author: Frank E. Peretti

My rating: 5 of 5


Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a hideous New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.


My thoughts:

Oh. My. Goodness. This book hit me on all the levels, as a writer, a reader, a person, and a Christian. Frank E. Peretti writes boldly, touching on real issues we deal with even today, decades after its first printing.

The narrative is well paced, carrying you along the river current, and then it begins to pick up, growing faster as you reach the white waters, and by that time you really don’t want to put the book down. Peretti’s descriptions are vivid, his characters, the problems they face, and how each one deals with them are realistic and relatable, no matter where you stand.

The theme of this story, depicting the (very real) warfare going on around us, is a refreshing change, I thought, from the analogies replete throughout literature. There are angels and there are demons, fighting within the wee town of Ashton, and the citizens don’t even know it, but as the fire heats up, eyes are opened to the truth and the danger. The best way to destroy a man is not always to take his life, but to undermine his family and demolish his reputation, beating him raw until his soul shatters.

I’ve heard many people talk about this book (and its partner Piercing the Darkness), that it was convicting and even prophetic. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see it (I’m not always the most perceptive) but I saw it. The trouble harrying Ashton harries the wider world even today, becoming increasingly evident; it doesn’t take much effort to see it. The emphasis in this story is on prayer, and while I’m not entirely sure if angels really get their strength from people’s prayer and worship to the Lord, it has to be said that prayer bears much power. It is the single most effective action we as followers of Christ can make concerning any and every issue we face. Hank is an inspiration for what unashamed, unafraid, unshakable faith can look like, and what an honor to be accused of being a ‘little praying man’.

I highly recommend this story for the richness of its plot, creativity of its narrative, its conviction of faith and prayer, but also to those who are on the outside looking it. Whether searching for God or not, this story will give some insight into the world we see and live in.

Reynwood’s Reviews: A Conspiracy of Kings

10454271 Title: A Conspiracy of Kings

Series: The Queen’s Thief, #4

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 0f 5


Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, has disappeared without a trace. Eugenides, the new and unlikely king of Attolia, has never stopped wondering what happened to his friend. Nor has the Queen of Eddis, who once offered Sophos her hand. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Across the sea, a ruthless empire watches for even the slightest weakness. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Until, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus—and Eddis—Sophos sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.


My thoughts:

A pretty spectacular fourth, if I do say so myself. The world of The Queen’s Thief continues to expand with each volume in this series, and Turner doesn’t quit with her wit and labyrinthine political affairs spanning four countries and all their barons, revolts, conspiracies, and power plays.

This time we read from the point of view of Sophos, our little Sounisian heir who has come so very far from the Useless the Younger from The Thief. In the previous book we hear very little of him, only that he’s missing, and now we get to learn how and why. The poor guy is sent on a rollercoaster of wild and violent experiences that take him from his disenchanted youth to crown prince taking back by force his divided kingdom ─ to protect them and the peninsula from the hated Mede Empire.

And who do we know who’s always got his hands in the mess pulling the strings? Eugenides, King of Attolia. He’s almost scary, quite honestly, but he’s a sharp one, and after all we’ve seen of him since the opening page of The Thief, I can’t help but like him.

Smartly written and packed with action, humor, and a wee little bit of heartache, A Conspiracy of Kings is a wonderful and gripping story with a splendiferous ending.


As it happens, there is a giveaway currently running for A Conspiracy of Kings, so why not enter for a chance to win a copy? . . . I did. It’s an opportunity too awesome to pass up. There’s only a few days left to enter, so don’t dilly dally!


And speaking of giveaways, the run of The Memory Quest is drawing to a close as well, so if you haven’t entered, now would be the time! Tell your friends (about both of these) and spread the word around!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The King of Attolia

448872Title: The King of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief, #3

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 0f 5


By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.


My thoughts:

This story is beautiful. It’s so unbelievably full from page one to the very last word, and Turner never ceases to amaze me with her ability to craft such a knotwork of events that seem individual at first, but then all culminate into one big episode with so many layers that I had to sit back and just marvel at her strategy.

Told from (largely, but not wholly) Costis’s point of view, we see what he sees and we know what he knows and we understand things the way he understands them ─ which isn’t always the way they are, which is a huge portion of the intrigue of this third volume. The characters are as loveable (and hateable) as always, with plenty of wit and comedy sprinkled throughout, which mostly originates from Eugenides, and yet it doesn’t detract at all from the real depth of these people. It actually highlights and accentuates just how real they are.

I loved this book from beginning to end.


Also, in honor of Megan Whalen Turner‘s new book, Thick as Thieves, coming out in May, there’s a giveaway on Goodreads for The King of Attolia, so enter for a chance to win a free copy of this awesomely amazing story that you’ll read over and over again, same as yours truly! Giveaway ends April 15th, so don’t wait!


And while we’re on the subject of giveaways, my own for The Momory Quest is still on, running until the 27th of this month, so don’t forget to enter, or tell your friends to, the more the merrier!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Queen of Attolia

40158

Title: The Queen of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 of 5


Revenge
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes’s Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered…she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

…but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

…at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago…


My thoughts:

Amazing! Incredible! As riveting as everyone says it is!

Too enthusiastic? Not sorry, it was just that good . . . even this second time around. Instead of just Eugenides’s point of view, we get to see the events scroll out from the perspective of several different characters this time, giving more depth to both the story and the cast ─ as a whole as well as individuals. We get to see how Eugenides, our indelible thief, gets himself in a nasty pickle (again), unwittingly drags four countries into war, struggles with his fears, and masterminds a solution that rocks the world (at least that’s how it felt. I’m glad no one was watching me as I read the last few chapters ─ talk about embarrassing. But that’s a sign of good story telling, when the reader gets so invested in the people and events).

I really appreciated the strategy and politics involved as Turner navigated a three/fourish-way war, it kept me thoroughly engaged as both a reader and writer, who is always seeking to learn how to improve my own craft. This is a great sequel, and I am very excited to begin the next installment.


Megan Whalen Turner is the author of short stories and novels for children, teenagers and adults. She has won the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult LIterature, a Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor and a Newbery Honor. She won the Mythopoeic Award and was shortlisted twice for the Andre Norton Award.

Check out her page on Goodreads, or visit her website for more information on her great books, awards, and other neat stuff!


Today’s the last day to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Adventures in Isle – including a series bookmark – so don’t miss it. Also, today is also the last day to snag a FREE ebook copy of Adventures in Isle over on Amazon – no limits! Except maybe the sky, but since we’ve been going beyond Earth’s atmosphere for so long maybe that’s not so restricting anymore. The moon! The stars! We’re really getting out of hand here!

(Ahem!) Anywho, check out both!