Jungle Tales of Tarzan

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Series: Tarzan 6
Reviewed date: 2018 Apr 30
191 pages
cover art

I didn't expect to enjoy these Tarzan short stories, but I found the straightforward plots to be a welcome change from the capture-and-escape-and-recapture storylines of the longer books. I also found the development and growth of young Tarzan interesting. He starts off thinking of himself as an ape, realizes he is different, and experiments in various ways to find his place in the jungle.

It is somewhat distressing that Tarzan's favorite pastime is terrorizing a small African tribe. He is inordinately interested in their ways, because of all the creatures in the jungle, they most resemble him. But he doesn't understand them, and--as Burroughs continually reminds us--they killed Kala, Tarzan's ape mother. And so, in turn, he baits and terrorizes Mbuto's tribe, even killing some of them from time to time. It's the killing and murdering that is distressing. Rabba Kega may be a corrupt, lying, cheating witch doctor, but I'm not sure that the proper punishment for a witch doctor's sins is to be tied up and then mauled to death by a lion. And even if Rabba Kega deserved to die, Tarzan surely didn't do it for justice, he did it for a joke, because he thought it was funny. Ouch.

Still, I enjoyed the book overall.

Tarzan's First Love
Tarzan thinks he might be in love with Teeka, but comes to realize that Teeka is better matched with Taug, another anthropoid. Tarzan realizes he is unique in the jungle. Unique, and alone.

The Capture of Tarzan
Warriors of Mbuto's tribe capture Tarzan, but Tantor the elephant rescues him.

The Fight for the Balu
Teeka has a balu, that is, a baby. Taug thinks Tarzan is trying to harm the balu, so they fight. Sheeta the panther tries to take the balu, but Tarzan rescues him.

The God of Tarzan
Tarzan wonders about God. He sees a witch doctor dressed up in animal skins, and thinks this is god, but quickly discovers the truth. Tarzan finally concludes that whoever God is, he is the source of all that is good and right and beautiful in the world.

Tarzan and the Black Boy
Tarzan decides that he should not be alone, so he kidnaps a boy from Mbuto's tribe. But Tibo is a disappointment. He fails to thrive with Tarzan in the jungle, and Tarzan, noticing this and also empathizing with what the boy's mother must be feeling, returns Tibo to the village.

The Witch-Doctor Seeks Vengeance
Bukawai, the witch doctor, kidnaps Tibo and blames it on Tarzan. He demands ten fat goats as payment for strong magic to help return the child. Tarzan frees Tibo and returns him to the village.

The End of Bukawai
Bukawai tries to kill Tarzan, but Tarzan escapes his bonds and turns the tables. Bukawai perishes.

The Lion
Tarzan plays a practical joke on his ape brethren by dressing in a lion skin and sneaking into the camp. The joke is on Tarzan, though, as the apes are vigilant and beat the "lion" nearly to death before Tarzan is recognized.

The Nightmare
Tarzan eats some spoiled meat and has a nightmare.

The Battle for Teeka
Teeka and her balu Gazan wander away from the tribe, then Teeka is stolen by a bull ape from another tribe. Tarzan and Taug rescue her.

A Jungle Joke
The warriors of Mbuto's tribe set a trap to catch Numa the lion, baiting the trap with a young goat. Tarzan steals the goat and replaces it with Rabba Kega, the witch doctor. Numa mauls Rabba Kega to death. Tarzan thinks that's really funny.

Tarzan Rescues the Moon
Tarzan is becoming more of a man and less of an ape. Some of the apes want to kill him, especially after Tarzan goes to the aid of a black warrior from Mbuto's tribe. But Tarzan wins great respect when he rescues the moon by shooting arrows into the sky to stop a lunar eclipse. The apes think he rescued the moon, but Tarzan, ever more thoughtful, has his doubts.

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