The story starts in an unnamed European country. The king has been assassinated in a coup and his young son Michael is taken out of the country. What follows is essentially two separate stories running parallel to each other.
The even chapters tell the story of Michael. He is on a ship when it goes down and finds himself floating alone in a lifeboat. He has no memory of his past life. He is rescued by a crazed deaf mute on an old steamer. His only other passenger is a caged lion. The old man enjoys to torture the lion and also starts to torment the boy.
One day he is careless and the lion escapes and kills the old man. The boy is unharmed since they formed a friendship. The boat beaches itself on the shores of North Africa and both leave for the freedom of the wilds. Eventually the boy rescues a Bedouin girl named Nakhla. She finds that the boy now a young man has no knowledge of speech. She names him Aziz which means beloved and teaches him Arabic. What follows is his adventures in North Africa and how he saves Nakhla with the help of his lion friend. He later marries Nakhla and settles with her father’s tribe.
The odd chapters deal with the European country. The new king Otto is a tyrant kept in power by Sarnya the head of the army and secret police. His son Ferdinand is even worse. This story deals with the intrigue as various factions plot to overthrow the government. Eventually Ferdinand becomes king and proceeds to bankrupt the country for his own extravagant lifestyle. He is killed with his mistress by a group of young officers and Sarnya becomes dictator. The final chapter ends with him receiving a telegram from Michael congratulating him and offering his sympathy.
This book was an interesting story. I liked the use of telling two separate stories with alternating chapters. One was a jungle adventure that Burroughs was known for. The other was a tragic tale that had no happy ending. It’s tied together at the end quite nicely.
It is the thirteenth century and England is on the verge of a civil war between King Henry III and his nobles lead by Simon De Montfort. At the court of King Henry is a great swordsman from France named De Vac. He is fencing with the king when he best him. The king isn’t in a good mood at the time and strikes De Vac. De Vac hates all Englishmen and decides to get revenge for this affront. He kidnaps the king’s infant son Richard. De Vac buys an old run down castle and raises the boy as his son. He teaches him swordsmanship and a hatred of all English. The plan is have him hung as an outlaw and reveal it to the king.
The plan seems to go according to plan. The boy named Norman raises a gang of brigands at the age of 19 that terrorize the country. Still Norman has retained many noble attributes of chivalry and honor. This is nurtured by a friendship with a priest. Norman does question the motives of his father and longs for a more normal life.
One day he rescues the lady Bertrade who is the daughter of the rebel De Montfort. He pledges to the cause of the rebels and De Vac betrays him to the king who is his real father. A final confrontation between De Vac and Norman where both appear to kill each other. De Vac reveals the true identity of Norman before he dies. Luckily Norman survives his wounds and reconciles with his real father. He also wins the hand of Lady Bertrade.
This was actually the second book that Burroughs wrote right after A Princess of Mars.Its one of his more obscure works but quite enjoyable. He seemed to do some good historical research for this story. The political intrigue between the King who wanted to increase crown authority and the nobles who continually worked to decrease it is portrayed accurately. Also the weapons, armor and tactics are accurate. A very good book.
The kingdoms of Margoth and Karlova are small European countries that are age old rivals. The two countries decide that a royal marriage between Princess Mary of Margoth and Prince Boris of Karlova would united the two countries. The royal couple involved are vehemently opposed to a marriage to a hereditary enemy.
Meanwhile Gwendolyn Bass and her mother have come to visit her collage friend the princess Mary. Gwendolyn’s mother is intent on marrying her daughter to royalty. She loves a fellow American Hemington Main who has pursued her to Margoth.
Now prince Boris is a rebellious sort and likes to take off to meet his friends at an isolated tavern in the countryside. On the way he is waylaid by the Rider, a brigand that has been terrorizing both kingdoms. Boris manages to capture him. At the tavern with his captive he meets Hemmington and hears his story. He agrees to help by impersonating the Rider and kidnapping Gwendolyn. He will bring her to Hemmington and the two can get married. The rider will impersonate him and take his place in the official visit to court the princess Mary.
Well Boris is able to waylay the Bass family car but mistakes the princess Mary for Gwendolyn. What follows are wacky adventures that result in the two falling in love. It all works out in the end and a royal wedding is all but insured to unite the two countries.
This is a book that I really enjoyed. It has a lot of goofy complex intrigue and mistaken identities that only Burrough’s could pull off. One of his better stand alone novels.