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Vic Challenger #1 & 2

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, New Pulp, Review, Tarzan
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Vic Challenger #1 & 2

"Vic Challenger: Double Trouble"I have previously posted about the Vic Challenger series, having received the fifth novel in the series. Set in the 1920s, the series stars young Victoria Custer who discovers she is the reincarnation of a cave girl, Nat-ul, born and died 100,000 years ago.

Using the name Vic Challenger, she works as a travel writer (and adventurer) while looking for her soul mate from 100,000 whom she thinks is also reincarnated. But in her travels she gets into various dangers, and her past life as a cave girl warrior helps her out.

The first two novels, Time Doesn’t Matter and Mongol are available together in one volume titled Double Trouble, and I got that. In reading the first novel I discovered that the character actually comes from Edgar Rice BurroughsThe Eternal Lover. The first half of the novel consists of a retelling of that novel, but here Victoria doesn’t meet her reincarnated lover Nu as in the original, which sounds a little hokey. But Victoria does have all the same adventures in Africa, and Tarzan does appear (though never referred to as such, but only as Lord Graystoke, probably for copyright reasons). The Burroughs novel is in the public domain, but I am sure calling the character “Vic Challenger” makes it easier to copyright this different take on the character.

I’m not sure if I read the original Burroughs’ work, which was retitled The Eternal Savage. The story also ties to Burroughs’ Ruritanian novel The Mad King, which stars Victoria’s brother Barney, who appears in The Eternal Lover and in the first Vic Challenger novel.

The events of The Mad King actually bookends the events of The Eternal Lover. Nothing is mentioned of his adventures in Lutha, nor that their mother was a runaway Luthan princess. Again, I assume this was done to avoid any issues, though The Mad King is also public domain.

In the second Vic novel, Barney heads out on a trip to Lutha, but nothing is stated as to why. I’ll have to see if more is mentioned of this in the third or fourth novels. I don’t recall anything in the fifth (he didn’t appear in it). For those not aware, “Ruritanian” novels are inspired by The Prisoner of Zenda.

It also seems that the author changes the time period for these events. In Burroughs’ works, they are set in the early WWI period: 1914/15. But the Vic Challenger novels are set in 1920, after the War.

As noted, the first half of the first Vic Challenger novel tells of her adventures in Africa. The second half is her and Barney traveling to the Yucatan to visit Mayan ruins, as the first of her adventure trips she will write about as Vic Challenger.

They get in a bit of danger in that trip, of course. Both from evil men as well as dangerous creatures, like a monstrous bird. Along the way they meet Ann Darrow, from King Kong. Vic learns that the upcoming movie is a bit of an exaggeration of what happened, and Ann will try to get directions to Skull Island for her — so a setup for a potential sequel. She also learns of an artist who may be Nat-ul’s lover Nu reincarnated. So this starts a background thread of her trying to find this wandering artist.

The second novel, Mongol, has Vic traveling to, of course, Mongolia. This time Vic will travel with her high-school friend, Lin Li, who will be Vic’s companion for the future works. On their trip, they get embroiled in trouble in San Francisco with a detective named Evelyn Chan, a niece of Charlie Chan, who is on the trail of a murder. This is finally solved on their voyage to Hawaii.

In Mongolia, they get into other adventures and dangers, both human and cryptid. Mongolia is torn between Russians and Chinese who both want to take it over, with many Mongolians stuck in between. Vic and friends wind up facing a very dangerous Russian in particular. They make it back home, though not unscathed. Vic now sports a scar on her left cheek, as shown in some of the artwork of her.

Both works were enjoyable and I look forward to obtaining the other novels.

One Comment

  1. Did Gill give his heroine the last name Challenger in reference to Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger?