THE WARLORD #2: THE CUTTHROAT BY JASON FROST

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tarzan

Copyright 1984.

The story starts with Eric and Tracy traveling by a canoe up the new coast of California. They hope to catch up with Fallows and rescue his son Tim before he hooks up with his gang of killers around Santa Barbara. Along the way the two get waylaid by the pirate Rhino. Rhino is a former executive who was horribly scarred in trying to get through the Long Beach Halo. His first mate Angel is a former enemy of Eric’s from his days in Vietnam. He thought that he had killed her and now she wants to get revenge. Rhino keeps them alive because he suspects they know about Alabaster’s map.

An attack on Rhinos ship provides the opportunity for Eric and Tracy to escape. They make their way to one of the skyscrapers that stick out of the water where Los Angeles once stood. They find it inhabited by a community growing hydroponic vegetables that have hired another pirate by the name of Blackjack. Blackjack is a former pediatrician who now lives his dream of being a pirate. He tells them about Alabaster’s map. Back before the quake the government confiscated firearms of private citizens. Alabaster was a guardsman and knows the location of one of the storage sites. The guns could make anyone the undisputed king of California and Rhino wants them. Blackjack finds out that Angel is double crossing Rhino and she knows the location. He enlists Eric in his plan to kidnap Angel in exchange for helping Eric get to Santa Barbara.

The story takes Eric to Liars Cove. It is the Hearst Castle that is now a port run by Bebop. Bebop was a failed Holiday Inn lounge singer that built his own empire after the quake. A series of betrayal and intrigue bring the story to an explosive conclusion.

Pirates sailing the Sea of Los Angeles. How could anyone resist a story like that. This is the first book of the series that I read and also my favorite. Eric Ravensmith and his trusty crossbow bring plenty of action and excitement to this series. The main feature of this story is men living out their adolescent fantasies. Blackjack is dying of cancer and living out his pirate fantasies. Rhino lamented his boring name of John Smith and revels at his new persona of Rhino.

The story of course has plenty of violence and an obligatory graphic sex scene. It goes on for about four pages with descriptions like this, “He hurried a few more strokes, tensed his buttocks, and gushed bubbling lava into her.” When you start writing like this its actually a lot more funny than erotic. At least I think so. So this is another enjoyable adventure of Eric is the crazy island that was once California.

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THE WARLORD BY JASON FROST

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tarzan

Copyright 1983.

Eric Ravensmith is living a quiet normal suburban life in southern California as a history professor. One night his past comes back to haunt him in an assassin that comes in the night to kill him and his family. Years ago Eric was part of a covert military unit in Vietnam called the Night Shift. He turned in his commanding officer Col. Dirk Fallows for massacring a village. Now Fallows is out of prison and set on revenge.

Things really get tough when a giant earthquake tears California from the coast and forms an island. Chemical and biological weapons stored at Long Beach are unleashed and form a bubble over the island called the Long Beach Halo and cuts off California from the rest of the world. Eric and his family form a community in the ruins of the university. Fallows has survived and still seeks revenge on his former comrade. His army of killers attack the community and kill his daughter and kidnap his wife and son.

Eric and his companions track Fallows to a place called Savvytown. The founder is a frozen pizza ad exec who is living out his dreams of being a mafia bigshot. His town is a sort of Las Vegas build on slavery. Eric and his gang free Savvytown but his wife Annie is killed and Fallows escapes with his son Timmy. He is determined to raise him as his own son. Eric sets off after him with his new girlfriend Tracy. The guy clearly bounces back quick.

Now I am not a meteorologist but the concept of the Long Beach Halo not only seems impossible but kinda silly. Still is serves its purpose to isolate California for the post-apocalypse society. It was actually a nice change of pace to read one that was not a post-nuclear war series. It has the typical themes of a lawless society and how the people adapt to survive. Some try to rebuild maintain civilization while others embrace the new disorder to rape, pillage and kill. It’s a theme to any post-apocalyptic story and this series does it quite well.

Being a Zebra book there is the typical gratuitous sex and violence. Indeed the sex is described in graphic detail so you have no doubt that sex is taking place. The story is quite well written with believable characters and situations. All the major and some minor are given interesting backstories. The set up of the quest to rescue his son is classic and made it a fondly remembered book series from my childhood.

THE MAN-EATER BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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tarzan

Copyright 1915

Two hunters in the Belgian Congo visit a mission. One of them Jefferson Scott Jr. falls in love with the missionaries daughter and is soon married. He decides to stay with the mission an soon the two have a daughter. Tragedy strikes when a native uprising kills Jefferson and his in-laws. The wife takes her newborn daughter to live with her father in-law in Virginia. Jefferson Sr. welcomes to two into his home where the three live a happy life.

Nineteen years later Jefferson Sr. dies. It is assumed that all his inheritance will pass to his granddaughter Virginia. Unfortunately the will can’t be found and Scott Tyler the nephew has come back. He is a sleazy good for nothing that was disinherited by Jefferson Sr. Without a will he stands to inherit half the estate. When he is rebuffed in his attempts to woo the beautiful Virginia he decides to dispute her claim. Unless a legitimate marriage certificate is produced to prove Virginia is the granddaughter he will inherit all.

Virginia writes to her father’s friend for a signed deposition that he attended the ceremony. Robert Gordon died a few years ago but his son Dick Gordon decides to help. Bored with his rich lifestyle he mounts an expedition to the Congo to find the certificate in the ruins of the mission. The nephew discovers this and goes after him with his hired thugs. Dick Gordon is helped by a lion he rescues from a native’s trap and together the two foil the nephews plot.

This is a fascinating obscure story that I came across. It’s a fun read with plenty of action and intrigue. It has a loathsome villain and a great hero that wins the day and gets the beautiful girl. So this is my last Edgar Rice Burroughs books I have. There are three more that I never read and may someday in the future but this is the last of my reviews for Burroughs for now. He was a prolific writer that is best known for creating Tarzan. He did so much more and tried his hand at practically every genre. Science Fiction, westerns, crime, historical, social commentary, even a zombie story before they became popular.

So I will now write a review every weekend or other weekend depending on how long the current book I am reading will take to finish. I am now starting The Warlord an eighties post-apocalyptic series. I am sure that there will be plenty of books that are obscure and you have never heard of before. And if you do recognize it I hope it brings back a pleasant memory as they do for me.

THE FIVE FINGERS BY GAYLE RIVERS AND JAMES HUDSON

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tarzan

Copyright 1978

Gayle Rivers is a warrant officer in the New Zealand SAS. One day in 1969 he is called to a meeting and finds himself part of a covert operation. Codename the Five Fingers the groups consists of seven highly trained special forces members that include three Green Berets, a South Korean ranger, a British and Australian SAS and Gayle. The mission is to go through Laos and North Vietnam to a small town on the Chinese border. There they will kill the delegates of a conference held there. The conference is to arrange China and North Korea’s entry into the Vietnamese conflict and force American out of Asia.

The mission starts off as planned and the squad arrives at the town in China. Then they get an abort signal and must fight there way back. In addition to the communist forces pro-American Laotian government troops and mercenaries are out to stop them. It seems that their own government doesn’t want them to return. Now their only chance is to link up with an American unit in South Vietnam.

This book I read in high school and absolutely loved it. It has to be the most action packed books I ever read. A reviewer quoted on the back states that there is more killing than a Chicago stockyard and I have to agree. The squad fights NVA, VC, Pathet Lao, tribal mercenaries, the Laotian National Army and Cambodian mercenaries. These seven men leave bodies all over Laos and North Vietnam.

You also get a feel for what the unit goes through. Gayle talks about the mosquitos, leeches, snakes, dysentery and malaria that plague them. The various emotional states that the men go through. You get to see how this mission forms a deep bond among the unit from the hardships that they endure.

The book hints that this is a real story and Gayle Rivers is a pseudonym. Is it real? Well I suppose it could be. Some of it does seem farfetched but who’s to say that it didn’t really occur. I thought the ending was a bit anticlimactic and leaves unanswered the reason for the mission. While it was unsatisfying it also does lend an air of reality to the story.

Real or fiction The Five Fingers is definitely one incredible action packed and interesting book.

THE RESURRECTION OF JIMBER-JAW BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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tarzan

Copyright 1937

An aviator who has invented a new type of engine is hired by the Soviet government. He strikes up a friendship with another American who is a cryogenicist. They go off on a flight to test the new engine when their plane crashes in the wilds of Siberia. The two find a frozen caveman and the they decide to revive him. The caveman proves intelligent and they teach him English and take him back to the states.

Jimber-jaw as they name him becomes a successful boxer. He sees a movie and recognizes the actress who looks like his mate. Unfortunately the actress does not act like his former mate. When he catches her with another man he decides to commit suicide by locking himself in a meat locker. He leaves a note stating not to thaw him out.

At 21 pages this is actually more a short story then an actual book. The story starts out with an interesting premise but the author sort of lost interest and ends it on a dour note. The story is a curiosity on a very obscure writing of Burroughs. That would probably be the only reason to bother with this short story.