Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

By Richard A. Lupoff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
To the Earth's Core—and Elsewhere

During the period in which he wrote the first Barsoomian books {Princess in 1911, Gods in 1912, and Warlord completed July 8, 1913) Burroughs was active with other fiction as well, a total, in fact, of six other novels.

The first of these, also written in 1911, was The Outlaw of Torn. An historical novel set in thirteenth century England, Outlaw is a generally routine novel of Saxons versus Normans, a kidnapped princeling, the raising of an outlaw army, bloody battles and tearful reconciliation. Such avatars as Gullivar Jones notwithstanding, A Princess of Mars had offered something new to the world of pulp fiction; with Princess Burroughs had a real impact on the magazine fiction field, establishing a solid place for the scientific romance which that type of story held well for decades, and which experienced a significant revival, along with Burroughs, during the paperback boom of the 1960s and 1970s.

Burroughs had no such revolutionary contribution to make to the historical novel, and had difficulty marketing The Outlaw of Torn. It was not published until 1914, by which time Burroughs was selling everything he could write and magazines were crying for more; it did not see book publication until 1927, the only historical novel published by Burroughs during his life.

The only other noteworthy element concerning Outlaw is the appearance, in a single scene, of Lord Greystoke. Not Tarzan, of course, but likely an ancestor of his, a fact seriously enough regarded by some Burroughs enthusiasts that they place The Outlaw of Torn in the Tarzan series. This early Lord Greystoke becomes involved in a minor controversy with the Outlaw of Torn, and is dispatched with a single stroke of the Oudaw's sword.

Burroughs' practice of including such connecting links between his various books provides material for a fascinating hobby (if one is a Burroughs fan) in attempting to see just how many of the works can be drawn into a

-27-

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