Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

‘The Greystoke Legacy Under Siege’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, New Pulp, Review, Tarzan
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

‘The Greystoke Legacy Under Siege’

'The Greystoke Legacy Under Siege'I have previously posted about the pulp works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. His most well-known work is Tarzan, who has spawned a wide range of works, though a character whom I never got into, at least in prose.

Burroughs established ERB Inc. to maintain ownership of his works. And it’s strange or sad that while they have allowed new stories of his characters to appear in movies, TV, radio, comics, and comic strips, new prose works have been few and far between. And in a few cases, permission has been withdrawn for works in progress.

Tarzan has had but a few authorized novels since Burroughs passed away. That seemed to change recently when Will Murray was allowed to write a new Tarzan novel, Return to Pal-ul-don, under the heading of “The Wild Adventures of Tarzan.” I thought this would lead to further new Tarzan novels from Altus Press (and Murray). So was confused when I did see a listing of further new novels, not from Altus Press, but though ERB Inc. These would be under the new heading of “The Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs” and looks to include more than just Tarzan.

So far the first four have been new Tarzan books:

  1. Return to Pal-ul-don, Will Murray
  2. Tarzan on the Precipice, Michael A. Sanford
  3. Tarzan Trilogy, Thomas Zachek
  4. The Greystoke Legacy Under Siege, Ralph N. Laughlin & Ann E. Johnson

The Greystoke Legacy is set in the 1980s and has four generations of the Tarzan family involved in adventures. This includes Tarzan, his son Korak, his grandson Jackie, and great-grandson Jon. Each have their own adventures (along with Meriem, Korak’s wife), though they are somewhat tied together. Behind it all is a vengeful wife and grandson of a man Tarzan encountered many years prior, hoping to destroy them all.

Tarzan’s African estate is attacked by rebels and destroyed. Tarzan goes after the people behind it all, while being pursued by various authorities, British and otherwise.

Korak had recently visited primate researcher Dian Fossey, and was the last to see her alive, and so he is being pursued by authorities wanting to solve the murder, as well as also being after those attacking his family.

Jackie is the head of the Greystoke Trust, a financial empire based on the treasure Tarzan found in Africa. The trust is first in trouble due to charges of insider trading, which Jackie and his people must solve. Then Jackie is arrested for treason, charged with using the trust to funnel money to terrorist groups! Complicating things is that Jackie is confined to a wheelchair, his legs damaged in a car accident that killed his wife.

And Jon, on a flight down to Africa, is shot down and must use his skills and training to survive in the wilds. Thankfully, he is aided by a native girl he meets.

Jackie appeared in the original Burroughs novels, but as a child. Here he is fleshed out as an adult as we learn about his life. Jon is wholly original, and we learn about his life as part of the Greystokes. The authors have done a good job with both and not tried to turn them into just clones of Korak.

Chapters jump back and forth between the difference characters as they each deal with their own issues, eventually meeting up. Overall I found this a good work, though I was a little disappointed with the storyline dealing with the trust. The resolution was unsatisfying, as I felt that the people involved who assumed his guilt (or worse, knew he was innocent and did little to stop things) should have been shown apologizing or otherwise indicating they were wrong. (But this is a common issue I have with such scenes in fiction.)

That said, I felt this was a great Tarzan novel set in modern times. The character of Jon could certainly be used for further stories. So I hope this will lead to further official works in more modern times that can include (or star) Tarzan’s descendants.

Mike Grell provided several illustrations for the novel, and he had previously worked on the Tarzan Sunday strip back in the ’80s, so I thought this an added bonus.

As to the overall “Wild Adventures of ERB.” The fifth in the series is A Soldier of Polodon, set on the world of Beyond the Farthest Star, but staring a new Earthman who finds himself on this war-torn world. I read Beyond way back in high school and figured it was an interesting setting that ERB created that had been underutilized. It certainly could have been used for a whole series of stories to rival his others, but that never happened. I hope to get this one.

And it sounds like the next book may be set in the world of the Moon Men! In addition to having new works in this series that aren’t always Tarzan (Mars? Pellucidar? Venus?), I hope that maybe some of the previous authorized Burroughs sequels can be brought back into print. Maybe Philip José Farmer‘s Tarzan novel? Or perhaps John Eric Holmes‘ Pellucidar works?

(Full disclosure: I was provided a copy of the book by the publishers.)

What do you think?