THE OUTRIDER #4 BAY CITY BURNOUT BY RICHARD HARDING

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Dorca’s the bar and main hangout for the raiders and smugglers of Chicago gets a visitor. A smarmy guy named Roy is in town to hire fighters for the Rich Man. The Rich Man is the ruler of what was once northern California. The Rich Man as his name implies is very rich but short on manpower. It seems Carey the Prince of the Snowstates aka Carey the Kook has decided to invade the Rich Man’s land.

Roy offers generous payment to join and has a special interest in recruiting Bonner. Bonner wants no part of it but shows an interest in a lighter that Roy carries. It belongs to his good friend Seth and Bonner decides to pay a visit to the Rich Man alone.

Roy doesn’t take kindly to the rejection and goes to Bonner’s home. Bonner isn’t there but finds his girl that he and his goons rape and beat severely. Naturally Bonner doesn’t take kindly to this and with the Mean Brothers takes off after Roy. Joining forces along the way with Clara and her biker gang an a fundamentalist raider group known as Bullets for Jesus, Bonner pursues Roy across the continent. At the ruins of San Francisco a bloody confrontation occurs for revenge and to save his buddy Seth.

The fourth book in the series is a great change of pace. We get to see the western part of the country. The Snowstates are explored and new villains are introduced. Also new allies. I just love the name Bullets for Jesus. At the end we get a sense of Bonner’s exhaustion with all the violence in his life and a desire for something better in his life. A desire that comes to an exciting conclusion in the next and last book of this series.

TARZAN THE TERRIBLE BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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The eight book in the series picks up as Tarzan searches for Jane. He tracks the German officer that took her to the land of Pal-ul-don. This land is a lost land inhabited by men with tails. Tarzan befriends a Waz-don and Ho-don, the black and white inhabitants of this valley. The Waz-don live in caves while the Ho-don are city dwellers and ride Gryfs or Triceratops.

Tarzan finds his wife captive in the Ho-don city and being used as a pawn in a power struggle between the king and high priest. The Ho-don religion believes that their god is tailless. The king wants to use Jane and Tarzan as emissaries of their god to increase his power. The high priest denounces them as false gods.

Eventually the timely intervention of their son Korak who has also tracked Jane saves the day. An ally of the ape-man is placed on the throne the Tarzan and his family are allowed go back home.

This was an excellent book. I loved the strange races and creatures that inhabit this mythical land. Burroughs created an intricate and believable society. He was at his best in imagining strange civilizations and firmly established the success of this series.

THE OUTRIDER #3 BLOOD HIGHWAY BY RICHARD HARDING

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Bonner and the Mean Brothers are down in the Hotstates and ambush a patrol of Devils. The Devils are the soldiers of Berger who runs the Hotstates. Bonner finds a child’s rifle from a kid he knew from Almost Normal. Now Almost Normal is a small town hidden away in the Appalachian mountains. Its inhabitants are hard-working men and women trying to raise families in this harsh post-apocalypse world. Bonner is a friend of the people of Almost Normal

When he arrives he finds the town burnt to the ground and its citizens taken. He tracks them to the plantation of Farkas. Farkas is the main slaver in the Hotstates and needed slaves for an order from Leather. Leather sent his right hand man Jojo and a contingent of Radleps to collect the slaves.

Bonner convinces a raider gang of midgets and dwarfs called The Lash of the Little People to his cause. Thus Bonner, the Mean Brothers and the Lash assault Farkas compound and free the citizens of Almost Normal from slavery.

The third series in the series is a great change of pace. We get to see a new part of the country. Bonner is shown as man of principal and justice in a world that lacks both. It’s another great book in this exciting road warrior type series.

TARZAN THE UNTAMED BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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It is August 1914 and Tarzan has learned of the start of the great war. He rushes back to his African estate. When he arrives he finds it burned to the ground and his faithful Waziri killed. A charred body of a woman with Jane’s wedding ring is all he finds of his wife. Driven insane he goes on a savage quest for vengeance against the Germans who did this.

Tarzan wages a one man war against the Germans in east Africa. After killed the officers responsible for his wife’s death, Tarzan heads to the interior. He wants to leave civilization behind and live out his life with the apes. He hooks up with an ape tribe and lives a simple life.

Eventually a squad of native deserters from the German army enter with a captive female German spy. What follows is an adventure that leads him to a lost city of maniacs. At adventures end he finds out that Jane is still alive.

This is probably the most controversial Tarzan that was written. It was written during America’s entry into the war and reflects the jingoism of the time. All Germans are portrayed as cruel and stupid with no redeeming qualities. Edgar did have that tendency to go overboard on stereotypes. I read where this killed the market for his stories in Germany where they were popular. Subsequent novels with strong German characters did nothing the reverse the damage that was done.

The other controversy was killing off Jane. I think that was a bold move on his part. The character was limiting on future stories. He only used Jane for two more future novels. Still there was an outcry that proved unpopular with his fans so he added at the end that Jane was still alive and the Germans had put her ring on the body of an unknown native woman.

In spite of its flaws I still enjoyed the book. The subsequent books to follow are considered some of his best work.

THE OUTRIDER #2 FIRE AND ICE BY RICHARD HARDING

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Winter is coming to post-holocaust America. The inhabitants are settling in for a brutal winter. Bonner’s friends Seth and Starling come to him with a plan. They believe they know where the large stash of gas that Cooker claims to have found is located. Cooker was a gas hound that died in the first book. They convince Bonner to travel in the dead of winter looking for this stash.

So the three head out into the northeast which is the Slavestates. They hook up with a band of French Canadian raiders called Les Habitants and find themselves is a middle of an invasion by the neighboring Snowstates. Fighting off Snowmen and Stormers the group finds the old gas tank farm.

Unfortunately Leather the leader of the Slavestates arrives at the same time. He still holds a grudge against Bonner for chopping off his hands. A battle occurs with Bonner and his group getting away with three tankers of gas. Starling makes the supreme sacrifice in blowing up the tanks to cover their escape.

So ends the second book in the series. Another enjoyable read. Bonner loses another friend and has one more reason to pay back Leather. I remember eagerly awaiting the next book.

JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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The sixth book in the Tarzan series is a collection of twelve short stories. They take place when Tarzan still lived among the apes. They deal with Tarzan’s first love (ends badly as all first loves do). His run in with the local witch doctor. His attempts to get the tribe to post sentries. Battles with a rival ape tribe. Tarzan’s quest for God and ends with Tarzan saving the moon.

I bet you didn’t know we have Tarzan to thank for the moon’s existence. This book is probably the weakest in the series. It’s not that its bad. I’ve read this book several times and will probable read it several more before I die. It’s just that I find this stage of Tarzan’s life dull. I much prefer his post civilization adventures. Thankfully Burroughs next book was his most powerful Tarzan yet.

THE OUTRIDER BY RICHARD HARDING

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It’s a generation or so after a nuclear war. The US is now divided into three feudal states. In the middle is Chicago an open city. Its inhabitants raid the feudal states. Chicago’s meanest bad ass is Bonner. He receives word that the woman he loves is still alive and held captive by Leather. Leather is the ruler of the Slavestates the most powerful of the states that consist of the eastern seaboard.

Leather and Bonner used to be friends but now are mortal enemies. Hearing his girl is alive Bonner straps on his three knifes, jumps in his customized car and heads off to Washington the capital of the Slavestates. Along the way he picks up his best friend Starling. Cooker a gas hound obsessed with finding gasoline. Harvey a demolitions expert. Clara and her all female biker gang, and the Mean Brothers two mute twins that evolution took a side road with.

This motley collection assaults Leather’s capital and take on his Radleps. Radleps stand for Radiation Lepers and are suicidal praetorian guard of Leather. This groups succeeds in killing many of Leathers followers, blows up his gas reserves and cut off his hands. Unfortunately they aren’t in time to save Bonner’s girl and must flee to fight another day.

This was the first in the Outrider series. It’s obviously inspired by the Mad Max movies and I think its one of the best series that came out in the 80’s. It has a colorful cast of characters and a fast paced plot. I always looked forward to when the next one was going to come out. If you are looking for a road warrior type series then this should be at the top of your list.