Re-Reading the Classics–Tarnsman of Gor

Posted: November 27, 2010 by chad98036 in Uncategorized

Recently Monty has been posting his Sunday morning book thread over at Ace of Spades and I always feel a little bad when I read it.  His selections are always so intellectual that I feel bad for reading discarded Harlequin romances that I find in the trash.  So inspired by Monty I have returned to my intellectual roots with this the first of one or two such reviews:

Some of you may be familiar with the term Gorean, as in living a Gorean lifestyle, particularly in relationship to sexual practices.  This is the book that gave rise to the series that coined that term. Usually that would be enough to make me stay away but I read the book in 10th grade and the next 6 or 7 in the series after that over the course of that year (my parents really didn’t pay much attention to what I was reading, as much trouble as they had keeping me in school they were probably just happy I could read), and my memories of the book were a little different; so, when I saw this book on the shelf at a used bookstore I went ahead and grabbed it.

My memories were essentially correct.  This was a strong start to a series (28 or so books) that unfortunately started going off it’s track around book 5.  Combining elements of high fantasy and sword and sorcery it is the chronicle of the adventures of Tarl Cabot, an Earth born professor of English history who, in the tradition of John Carter, finds himself transplanted to another world where he discovers his true calling as a warrior.   After that he indulges in the usual warrior things kidnapping and falling in love with the princess, fighting impossible battles, escaping impossible odds, only he does while riding around on a giant bird.  (That’s where the title comes from.)

Beyond that the book is competently written.  It’s not epic prose, but it’s straightforward and easy and the characters have enough development to draw you in.  Norman will never win any major prizes for his style but he also won’t turn off many readers because the books are too dense.  And, on the plus side he doesn’t appear to be a frustrated songwriter so unlike Tolkien his characters don’t burst into song every three pages followed by page after page of discussion of the rhyme, meter, and meaning of the lyrics.  I swear that entire series would have been a short story if it hadn’t been for the constant minstrel shows, but I digress. 

In closing – Decent book, good story, but don’t bother following up with the rest of the series unless you are into the whole dominant / submissive lifestyle.  If that is the case reading the books aren’t going to damage you more than you already are.  (Just Kidding, to each his own you sickos)

  1. geoff says:

    Never cared much for the Gor books, though I read the first few. If you’re looking for more stuff in the vein of John Carter of Mars, there’s always Carson Napier of Venus (more ERB), or the Jandar of Callisto series by Lin Carter (a clone of the John Carter series).

  2. alexthechick says:

    See, this is the type of book thread I like. I’ve never read the Gor books so I’ll have to try that out. I live Tanya Huff’s Valor series quite a bit.

  3. Mortis says:

    The funny thing is while unpacking a dufflebag I just found my copy of Tarnsman.

    Now I have to reread it.

    Usually skipped through the long, drawn out sex parts. Enjoyed the descriptions of combat and equipment immensely.

  4. MM says:

    Right now, I’m reading the latest, Kur of Gor. Tarl is on the steel worlds. Usual bondage crap you have to get through. I staring reading these when I was 18, I’m now 59. I’ve gone through the whole series at least 3 times and several, I’ve read numerous times.

    I have to disagree with 5 being when they “went off the rails” The real long, long, long windy descriptions of bondage began in the late teens. The first 11 or so, even the ones from the women’s POV were pretty good.

    My all time favorite is 4, about the plains people and Turia

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