Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guys Read Old Beat-Up Copies

We love old books.

The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs
With the success of Burroughs’ series—Venus, Mars, Tarzan, Pellucidar—many of his self-contained novels have been overlooked and, while the others were reprinted, these other works allowed to fade from memory. Certainly, The Mad King deserves a better fate and is worth the effort to track down and acquire. Set at the turn of the nineteenth century, the book is best described with adjectives such as skullduggery and swashbuckling. In the timeframe, the sword is as useful as the single-shot revolver and a horse can be a more reliable means of transportation than an automobile. Within this setting, Burroughs is able to combine modern intrigue with individual heroism to achieve a maximum of adventure on top of a complex plot.
Like the more popular Prisoner of Zenda by Hope, Burroughs uses the plot mechanic of look-alike traveler and prince along with mistaken identity to put his pieces into play. The heroes are noble, women pure, and villains unambiguously evil—traits all to rare in most ‘modern’ literature and a refreshing change of pace.

Related Reading:
Edgar Rice Burroughs, any and all
Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon
The Phoenix Guard by Steven Brust

1 comment:

Starbuck O'Shea said...

You know, someday I gotta read _Prisoner of Zenda_.

OTOH, I was tired enough this weekend to make H. Rider Haggard into H. Rider Burroughs! Luckily, my interlocutor also knew who had written _She_.

Read the Burroughs Mars and Tarzan books. Must try this one next. Thanks, MK!