I always enjoy Jeff Mariotte’s work, and of course I’ve been a Tarzan fan for more than sixty years, so it’s not at all surprising that I had a fine time reading Mariotte’s new novel TARZAN AND THE FOREST OF STONE. This is part of a series authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, which means the books are set in the continuity and canon established by Burroughs in the original novels.
In this case, that’s important because TARZAN AND THE FOREST OF STONE is a
direct sequel to TARZAN AND THE LION MAN, which is my favorite book of the
entire series despite the fact that some ERB fans don’t care for it. The action
in FOREST OF STONE picks up very shortly after LION MAN ends and includes John
Clayton paying a visit to Edgar Rice Burroughs himself. This is a charming
scene. After that, however, it’s almost non-stop adventure, including a train
derailed and wrecked, big city gangsters dressed as cowboys, a ruthless
professional hitman, murder, kidnapping, an ancient artifact, a mysterious Indian,
a magnificent stallion, a little mysticism, and Tarzan going after the bad guys
in the Petrified Forest, a very different kind of jungle that what he’s used to
back in Africa.
Mariotte makes excellent use of Burroughs’ parallel storylines technique, which keeps the novel moving along at a very satisfying pace. The young woman he introduces as the heroine of this tale is a good character, given more to action than weeping and wailing. The remorseless hitman is downright chilling. Most importantly, Mariotte’s Tarzan acts and talks like Tarzan should. I never had any trouble accepting that this was the same character as the one Burroughs created.
One piece of the storyline is left unresolved, and I can’t help but think that an old pro like Mariotte did that to indicate that he still has more Tarzan stories to tell. I hope so, because I really enjoyed reading this one. It’s definitely a Front Porch Book, and it's available in hardback, paperback, and e-book editions.