Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (Burroughs, E., R., 1916, 1918)

I have a vivid image in my mind reading the Jewels of Opar as a kid. It's the Tarzan tale I usually think when I think about the character, but now after re-reading it, I must admit that it's a bit of a rehash of everything that Burroughs had written before. Also, Tarzan in it is kinda boring.

In the beginning, Tarzan and Jane are having a good time in the jungle at a ranch Tarzan has built in the Waziri country. Soon enough this time of leisure hits to an end as Tarzan finds out that he has lost hist money on a bad business venture. Thankfully he has his own private treasure horde at the lost city of Opar, so off he goes with his loyal Waziri warriors.

Unbeknownst to Tarzan, his house guest Werper hears him talking about the plans to retrieve some more gold as he's talking about it to Jane. Following Tarzan isn't a random act of greed from his part, as he originally planned to kidnap Jane and sell her to slavery.

Getting to Opar goes smoothly, but there a rock falls on Tarzan's head and he loses his memory. This leads him just swinging in the trees and hunting for meat for a good part of the story, as he reverts back to his youth years while retaining his ability to speak French and English. At the same time, Werper and his sinister Arab master kidnap Jane, steal the gold and burn Tarzan's country house to the ground as well as kill a good deal of the brave Waziri.

What follows from this is a series Tarzan chasing Werper, but because of him stealing a pouch  of gems from him which Tarzan thought were pretty, Jane escaping the captivity only to end up getting caught again, Werpers deception of the Arabs and Jane and whomever happens to walk by, a load of lions trying to kill everyone and Tarzan socializing with the great apes as well as doing his jungle stuff. Then there's also the prettiest human sacrificing sun worshipper, La of Opar, who's chasing Tarzan, whom she has the hots for. And of course a ton of apes, lions, elephants and what not. All in all, a supercharged Tarzan tale if there's one.

As I said though, Tarzan in this tale is somewhat dull. After his memory loss, all he's interested in is mostly living the wild life as well as the pretty jewels Werper manages to steal from him. He regains his memory only during the last chapters of the tale and even gets really interested in helping Jane after he again sees a glimpse of her and decides that she's a worthwhile bride for him. Amnesia plot lines really aren't my cup of tea and the Jewels of Opar it feels a bit too much like a lazy plot device, which is aimed to keep Tarzan far away from Jane as well as showing him doing stuff people wanted to see him do. Personally, I would have changed most of that having Tarzan being a captive in Opar and La trying to make her moves on him.

After all the running and shouting the story ends up where you'd expect it to end: evil men have gotten their due and Tarzan manages to save the love of his life in the nick of time, just before a great lion is about to attack her.

Overall the Jewels of Opar is a pretty solid adventure. While it doesn't feel very original, it has a good sense of adventure and even the main baddies manage to get more personality than you'd expect from a story like this. On the top of that, even some of the native Africans, especially the brave and loyal Waziri, are portrayed in a more favorable manner than in the previous stories.

I'd say the Jewels of Opar could be a good entry point if you're interested about Tarzan. It's overall a pretty well-written story, which has most of the Tarzan tropes you'd expect to see: Tarzan being a wild man, sinister villains, lost civilizations, adventure, and romance.

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