Tarzan the Untamed

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Series: Tarzan 7
Reviewed date: 2012 Jun 25
Rating: 1
256 pages
cover art

The first World War sweeps into Tarzan's corner of Africa when a zealous German officer plunders Lord Greystoke's plantation. Tarzan arrives home in time to discover the burned wreckage of the farm. He finds a charred body of a woman with his wife's rings. Jane is dead.

Tarzan swears revenge on all Germans everywhere. He will not rest until every last German pays for this crime. He starts by killing Schneider, the German officer who led the attack on his ranch. Then Tarzan aids the British forces in Africa, helping them win key battles against the Germans. During this time, Tarzan meets Bertha Kircher, a German spy.

Despite the continued existence of some 65 million Germans, Tarzan decides to forsake humankind and return to the jungle. He will find a band of mangani--the great apes--and live among them. On his way to join the mangani, he runs into Bertha Kircher, who has been captured by natives. Despite her being a German spy, Tarzan feels compelled to rescue her. Tarzan also rescues a British pilot whose biplane went down in the jungle.

Together, the three manage to stumble upon a lost city of madmen deep in the African jungle. These madmen worship parrots, raise lions as livestock, and live perpetually on the edge of derangement caused by generations of inbreeding. The mad king intends to make Bertha Kircher his queen, but Tarzan and the British pilot, Smith-Oldwick, rescue Kircher and flee the city. They meet a British rescue party in the canyon outside the city; the rescue party drives off the madmen.

It turns out that Bertha Kircher is not a German spy--she is a British double agent! She and Smith-Oldwick get engaged. Furthermore, she is carrying documents stolen from Hauptmann Fritz Schneider: Jane Clayton is not dead! The charred body was not hers, but rather a ruse Schneider dreamed up to misdirect Tarzan. Jane was taken prisoner.

With hope that Jane may still be alive, Tarzan sets off to rescue her. The story of that rescue will be told in the sequel, Tarzan the Terrible. And whereas Tarzan the Untamed is a poor book, considered one of the worst (an assessment I agree with--it's full of intentional racism against Germans, more subtle and therefore more distasteful racism against blacks, and a poorly-paced plot), Tarzan the Terrible is among the best in the series. I can hardly wait to read it.

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