Monday, May 17, 2010

Tanar of Pellucidar

Tanar of Pellucidar (Pellucidar, #3) Tanar of Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of the first books by Edgar Rice Burroughs that I ever read. It's the third in the Pellucidar series, which is what Burroughs called the inner earth setting for this and the other six books in the series. Tanar is a native Pellucidarian who is a friend and ally of David Innes, ERB's hero in the first two books in the series, but it's not necessary to have read the other ones to enjoy this volume. Tanar finds adventure, pirates straight out of a Johnny Depp movie, and true love in this, one of the better Burroughs books. The Roy Krenkel cover on the old Ace version was a bonus for me in the 1960's, but it's not necessary to enjoy the book today. Still, neat if you can find a copy on ebay or amazon or barnes and noble. 5 stars at the time I read it in my pre-teen years, still a 4 stars for those who like adventure in the old time Pulp magazine style...

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Sarah Vowell. There's no other way to put it. This book is a perfect blend of historical essay and pop culture lit. Vowell's take on the Puritan Massachusetts Bay colony and Governor John Winthrop shows the "shining city on the hill" ideal as the Puritans saw it; which is not quite the way that Ronald Reagan meant it when he co-opted the phrase in the 1980's. Vowell is one of the few authors in the world today who can tie the two visions together and show how the people we are today can relate to the group of folks who left England in 1630 to start anew.

This book I recommend to just about everybody who wants to understand modern day America and the history of the Massachusetts colony. 5, nay 6, stars (out of 5).

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Master of Adventure

One of Robert E. Howard's favorite authors was noted adventure writer, historian, and biographer Harold Lamb. Lamb basically got his start writing historical adventure stories in the aptly named Adventure Magazine which is where REH first read Lamb's stories and wandering Cossacks and adventurers. Later on Lamb would go on to write screen plays for Cecil B. DeMille and best selling biographies and histories set for the most part in Asia. As a kid I remember reading his World Landmark series book on Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde (Landmark#W-12)

Recently University of Nebraska's Bison Press has been re-publishing many of Lamb's stories from the period of his pulp writing days, roughly just before and during the "Roaring Twenties". I'm currently reading Riders of the Steppes: The Complete Cossack Adventures, Volume Three and the stories contained therein are excellent. Supposedly some of the stories in this volume were those read by noted Howard in the early twenties before he began writing professionally himself, going on to create noted fantasy characters such as Conan and Solomon Kane. I can see how Lamb's well written action scenes and vividly realized three dimensional individual heroes were an influence on Howard later on. I've become a major fan of these stories and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in good adventure fiction in a realistic historical setting.