|Tarzan and the Leopard Men|
Poor Tarzan is going to end up with Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome if this keeps up. This time around he is caught up in a storm and is hit in the head by a tree branch. He is rescued by Orando of the Utengi tribe who decides that this strange white man is his Muzimo, the spirit of Orando’s ancestor. He further decides that little Nkima is the spirit of his murdered friend, Nyamwegi. Tarzan, having lost his memory for the 100th time or so, knows no different so he joins forces with Orando in his quest for vengeance against the cult of the Leopard Men. This group of savages is drawn from many tribes and practices ritualistic cannibalism.
Meanwhile, an ivory poacher (grrr), nicknamed Old Timer, gets caught up with a platinum blonde girl who has been stranded in the jungle by her safari. She is looking for some guy named Jerry Jerome but Old Timer doesn’t know him. Before he can fall in love with the girl she gets kidnapped by the Leopard Men and taken to their temple as their new priestess. Old Timer, who has lust in his heart, heads off looking for her. Of course everyone crosses paths and rescues go awry more than once. I wasn’t fond of Old Timer, I thought the way he lusted after the random girl he meets in the jungle was creepy at best and predatory at worst but she was no better with her temper and irrational behavior. I think they pretty much deserved each other. Maybe Edgar Rice Burroughs was trying to move with the times and be a little less noble and a little more realistic, but it didn’t work for me.
Eventually Tarzan recovers his memory after another blow to the head – a tried and true remedy for head injury, try it some time – and realizes that he can’t just leave the white folks in danger and comes through. The girl, whose name I forget, falls in love with Old Timer, whose name is Hi or something silly like that, and finds Jerry and everyone lives happily ever after – especially Nkima who gets to stop being Nyamwegi and gets Tarzan back. Nkima is so much better than Cheetah. Why the movies always used a chimp instead of a cute monkey I’ll never understand. But then, these are the same kind of people who cast Elmo as Tarzan so what do you expect?
This is vintage Tarzan with the amnesia, mistaken identity, whites in peril, and Tarzan coming through at the end. It’s silly and ridiculous but at least there is no weird lost civilization, which is a plus in my book. I didn’t like the white folks in this one but I did like Orando and his tribe a lot so it was a wash. I enjoyed this one as much as some of the early books and give it a solid 4 1/2 stars.