At the Earth's Core
Series: Pellucidar 1
Reviewed date: 2007 Oct 25
Edgar Rice Burroughs has a pretty good formula. A hero gets stranded in a strange alien world, sees a princess, and falls in love. The princess is kidnapped, and the hero rescues her. Along the way everybody does lots of fighting with swords, knives, arrows, and other honorable weapons. At the Earth's Core does not deviate from the formula.
The alien world is Pellicudar, a world inside the hollow crust of the Earth. A tiny sun at the center of the Earth provides eternal daylight in Pellucidar. Without day and night, time in Pellucidar is variable. What seems a month to one man--as he fights his way through the savage jungle--is a mere hour for his companion studying quietly in a library. It's a ludicrous concept, but no more so than the idea of a hollow Earth.
The hero is David Innes. No Tarzan or John Carter, Innes is nonetheless a true Burroughs hero: athletic, educated, but a man of bold action rather than study. The love interest is Dian the Beautiful. Unfortunately for Innes, in his ignorance of Pellucidarian culture, he offends her grievously. He must go after her, but he is captured and enslaved by the Mahars.
The Mahars are intelligent winged dinosaurs, and are the dominant species in Pellucidar. They are served by the Sagoths, a race of primitive ape-men. Together, they enslave the true men of Pellucidar. Innes and his companions escape from the Mahars, Innes gets the girl, and then--in a surprise twist that surprises no one--Innes unites the men of Pellucidar and frees them from the tyranny of the Mahars. Hooray for happy endings.