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Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don (The Wild Adventures of Tarzan) (Volume 1) Paperback – May 30, 2015
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About the Author
Will Murray is the author of over 60 adventure novels in series ranging from The Destroyer, Doc Savage, The Executioner and others. His Year 2000 novel, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD: Empyre, predicted the terrorist 9/11 attacks while his Doc Savage novels have pitted the Man of Bronze against King Kong and The Shadow.
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This latest Tarzan, seemingly the first once since the 90's, was pretty good.
But it had a lot of problems, unfortunately.
We have never read anything from this Will Murray. But, from what we could glean from his 1st Tarzan book, he shows some good potential.
It seems some reviewers have already told you all about this particular new Tarzan adventure, so we will tell you what we liked, and what we didn't care for. (Of course, this is strictly just our personal take. Nothing more, nothing less.)
Will Murray begins his first Tarzan novel well. In fact, it is probably the strongest part of the entire book, despite his too wordy prose and over-usage of certain titles and names. Once you establish someones name and title, you don't have to repeat it over and over. We get it!
Murray picks a place and time in which we believe 'ol ERB reached his peak in his Tarzan series - Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible, where German forces destroy the Greystoke jungle estate and capture Jane and take her away, making Tarzan think she is dead, burned, along with their friends and home. But Jane ends up in yet another lost civilization that ERB did so greatly, a place called Pal-ul-don. A land filled with fierce beasts and fiercer men. But these races of lost man have tails, and have two or three distinct races, the Waz-don and Ho-don, who fight amongst one another. (A race war in fantasy, since one was white and one was black.)
And this is the time and place in which author Murray picked to begin his new Tarzan adventure. Good! Great! Let's see what another author can do with a time and place that hasn't been written about for over 80 years. (Unless you count comic books, in which author/artist Russ Manning did it better, in our humble opinion.)
So Murray has Tarzan fighting for the war in the RAF once again. (If we remember correctly, ERB did this in Tarzan and the Foreign Legion) Murray quickly places the ape-man in a classic P-40 fighter plane, which is fairly quickly downed by prehistoric birds, but ERB never mentioned this particular lost world having these. Pellucidar and Caspak? - yes. Pal-ul-don? No. (But hey, we'll go along with it. We are trying to play nice and love this newly-emerged Tarzan book.)
So, after Tarzan rescues Tantor from a giant croc, and is quickly brought down by a trio of flying pteranodons, he continues his mission - to find the downed aircrew and this mysterious agent known as Ilex. OK, so far, so pretty good.
It is shortly after this that we kinda get bored with the story a bit. A few reviewers said this book was too long. We don't mind long books. As long as they are good, from beginning to end. The more Tarzan, the better. Right?
Unfortunately, for us, anyways, this book feels too long because it gets bogged down with mini-adventures. But, even mini-adventures can be cool and fun and exciting, if they are handled well. These were sometimes dull and redundant, we're afraid. The meeting of the turtel-men, which, in our minds was like the meeting up of Tarzan with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. OK, we are seeing now that this latest author for Tarzan is trying to invent his own Pal-ul-don creations. Which, we suppose, is fine, as long as the story is ERB-like, fun and fast. (But this is where it bogs down a bit, and gets a little worse after the spider people are introduced.
Although we felt that all these new creations of this latest author were fine and kinda interesting, we felt the the problem was it quickly become mundane. A bit too much. We got this feeling that author Murray would have been better off having Tarzan meet and do battle with these new creations - but then move on. The spider people seem to take over the story.
Now, during all this fighting off spider people and stuff, you still have a sub-plot going on: the finding of this mysterious Ilex? Remember that mission?
Without ruining the plot, suffice it to say, we thought when the author got back on track with that part of the book, the mysterious Ilex wasn't so mysterious...or interesting, really. Ilex really does nothing for the plot. Just a person for Tarzan to save. Then, when Ilex is revealed, it didn't really add anything to the overall plot. There was no 'aha!' moment. This mysterious person didn't do anything in Pal-ul-don to shake things up.
We are not here to beat-up Will Murray. Tarzan is one - if not the biggest - iconic figure in the history of books, comics, and movies. Any one writing a Tarzan novel is going to be scrutinized by hardcore fans like us. Overall, Will Murray seems to be a pretty solid pulp writer. He seems to get Tarzan, overall. There is certainly room for improvement. And if you continues to write Tarzan novels, hopefully he'll improve with each novel. Return to Pal-ul-don is not a bad book. A little above average. Murray's numerous action sequences were not nearly as good as ERB's, or many other authors we read, but he shows major potential. We read TONS of action/adventure books, so we are very picky about how someone writes action sequences. After you read the best ones in the business, it is hard to accept mediocre.
If you are expecting ERB's Pal-ul-don here, you will only get some small slivers of it. mainly you get Will Murray's new creations of the denizens of lost Pal-ul-don. We really wished that author Murray would have chosen what was tried and true, and further explore the world that ERB and classic author/artist Russ Manning did in the 60's and 70's, sticking true to ERB's creations, and enhancing them further.
But, overall, Murray shows promise here. He seems to get the character of Tarzan. But there is most def room for improvement.
Sent on a secret military mission to an unknown portion of Africa, his job is to recover an intelligence asset code-named Ilex. He is not told who or what Ilex might be -- that's for him to learn. His plane brought down by a pteranodon, Tarzan quickly reverts to his old ways of the jungle. And in this story he meets a truly difficult foe, one that presents an unparalleled challenge to the beast lord.