Tarl goes to the Barrens of Gor in search of one with whom he once shared Paga (Part 2)
Savages and Blood brothers are really one story. Savages contains more of Tarl's internal dialog, and marks a turning point in the character's mind. It can be very harsh to listen to, and if there is one novel up to this point that a reader may find objectionable, Savages is the one. Blood Brothers is somewhat less harsh. Tarl travels to the Barrens of Gor, one again without the approval of Priest King go-between, Samos of Port Kar. This area is inhabited by tribes of the "Red Savages" (remember this term is supposed to be translated Gorean) who permit very few white outsiders. There are a number of very memorable characters, and by the time one gets to Blood brothers, Tarl has begun to work out some of his long term internal issues. If one has followed him this far, the turning point in his internal dialog, told to us whether we want to hear it or not, is a welcome change. There are some lessons to be learned in Blood brothers that have nothing to do with Gor, Slavery, or Sexuality. The author lets some of his background come though here. I will not comment on his identity, he isn’t someone famous, and it is not secret. I mention this because I know that knowing the author’s real name, day job and education can be a spoiler for some readers. I'll insert this comment here too.
In the late 90's I was offered the opportunity to be a "go-for" assistant to Mr. Norman, but his wife (yes, wife...) became ill and he cancelled his lecture. I've always regretted this, but now I'm glad it didn't happen. He was going to speak on the subject of censorship. Tarl is speaking here, not Norman, and one must remember this. I'm read-reading the entire Saga again so that I can catch up where the series once ended (Magicians.) I have many issues with the subject matter, but that is how these books are intended. You haven’t read this far if you can’t cope with that. Things begin to change here, just a little, and just for Tarl really. Never forget Tarl is speaking, and he tells us everything that crosses his mind. Narrator Lister really brings this out, and I often missed this the first time I read the saga. These stories are all new to me for some reason, and many of my questions have already been answered. Blood brothers of Gor has the adventure that is missing from some of the Gor Novels, and that balance of "Tarl trying to justify his adopted worked to himself, Kajira Making and Gorean Kajira Philosophy" vr. “Tarl fighting the bad guys with interesting companions and beautiful brave women” works much better. Pay attention to some of what Tarl has to say in Blood Brothers, he may surprise you sometimes.
This prequel to “Mariners” is the story of a Slaver and one of his Earth Barbarian captures. We learn of secrets and conspiracy before the sailing of the Great Ship With No Eyes. Duel Narrated. I enjoyed this book very much and I didn’t expect to. It contains information that will make events in “Rebels” much clearer, but does not resolve any mysteries. We do learn more of the Panther Girls in the Northern Forests, some of whom we first met in “Hunters.”
Told by an Earth Girl Slave, we once again meet Lady Bina and Lord Grendel. I read a really negative review of this book. I think it is very enjoyable. The author seems to have regained his sense of humor, and the story is engaging and well told.
This is the first part of two novels, Renegades and Vagabonds. Renegades was not available in audio for a while and I skipped both, having read them years ago, and went on with "Magicians." Once I was caught up with Tarl's adventures in "Mariners," I went back and bought "Renegades" and then listened to them in the right order. I believe the author insisted that they be released unedited and there are some really distasteful Rape comments, (particualarly on in Vagabonds about 15 hours in) that just were not appropriate (my strong opinion) in a work of Fiction. I suspect this is what got him in trouble, cost him his publisher, and ended up in a blacklisting and lecture tour on censorship. I don't think it is Censorship, just editing. This is fiction, and some of the retorical digressions are not even in character. Any editor would have redlined them. I'd have refused to publish Vagabonds with the rape on EARTH passage in it. (It is otherwise a great book.) Just yell "I am quite aware of that..." or "Shut Up!" and ignore these passages. Tarl's journey through Ar's Station, the Vosk Delta, and onward is a turning point in his life and the story is well worth your time. This is a good story and should be read in the right order. Don't go on to Magicians unless you have read this book, and Vagabonds.
Our Narrator is not Tarl Cabot here, but Tarl is very much present in this story. This is a return to what I expect of a Gor Novel, thorns and all. I loved it, I loved the different narrator, and understand why it was necessary. Comments on the story would all be spoilers,but Tarl Cabot ends going on a grand adventure to the Ends of the World. Enjoy.
This book is badly written and though popular, I gave up and do not intend to finish it. I've read all this before, nothing new, and the writing can't possibly have gotten past any serious editor. It may get better, but I will never know. There are so many good books, and this, in my opinion, is just a re-hash of other people's ideas. Try Nancy Collins if you want to read this done well.
Vagabonds and Renegades are dependent on each other and Renegades was not released until recently in Audio Form. Both should be read before Magicians. These books are the true turning point in the story and with out both it would be hard to continue reading the story.
In which Tarl Cabot learns much of the Kurii and obtains a Kajira and a sleen.
Wow, so much story, so little rhetoric. One does not need to read “Prize of Gor” to enjoy this book. I can’t review “Kur” very well without spoilers so I’ll just do brief “book jacket teaser”
Kur of Gor, in which we hear a tale told by an unknown, probably Kur, narrator: Tarl Cabot runs afoul of agents of the Priest Kings who have outlawed him for his rescue of Half-Ear the Kur War General in the Gorean North. As is expected of those who once shared Paga, the favor is returned and Tarl learns much of the Kurii, obtains a slave, a sleen, makes friends, and has many grand adventures.
The narration style is coherent, not head-hopping 1st to 3rd confusion like “Prize,” and justified because Tarl could not have written this story down. The “Narrator” allows Tarl to tell most of the story in his usual style, but he tells the story and influences it with his viewpoint. It does occasionally cross the line where the Narrator knows what Tarl is thinking, something he could not know, but it is done well enough that it doesn’t bother me at all.
“Kur” is mostly adventure, and a real delight. This was written in 2009 long after the blacklisting issue was behind the author. He returns to his main character in all his introspective, brooding self-analysis, and introduces many new characters and ideas.
NOTE: He does attempt, rather stumblingly in my opinion, to address the RAPE issues in “Prize.” In his (via Tarl) own words, “One can not refute nonsense.“ He fails to make any real rhetorical point but does not re-offend and drops the subject much to my relief. I’m apposed to censorship. “Prize” must stand as it is, but one does not need to read it to continue. “Prize” can be skipped or skimmed if you have hard copy or one can jump from chapter to chapter in the audio book. It is torture and other then buying a copy to own the entire series, there is nothing to recommend one bother with it at all. If you skip “Prize,” and I recommend that you do, the issues one needs to know are hardly spoilers. I suggest that one skip listening to Prize and continue with this book, but buying “Prize” to complete the set would not be a mistake. If you are going to read “Prize,” please DO NOT READ the final paragraph.
“Kur of Gor” is a return to Tarl Cabot’s adventures, well written, and with more adventure then rhetoric. I really enjoyed it. *Stop Here if you are going to read “Prize of Gor.”
***** Not Spoilers, but if you are going to read “Prize of Gor” you may want to stop reading here. **************************************************************
We learn in “Prize” that: The Priest Kings are once again active and in control of their technology. The Delta Brigade continues their partisan operations in Ar with little assistance from the “Large Peasant with Amnesia.” They have begun to attempt to use financial leverage on the Mercenaries who compose a great deal of Cos’ forces occupying Ar. Janice is happy and living in Ar. A Kajira is still masquerading as Ubara. There are Kurii now involving themselves with the Cos/Ar conflict on Gor.
If this angry book is the reason that John Norman got blacklisted then it makes a little more sense to me. The Author is a highly educated man, a career educator, and this is a badly written book. The English/Gorean translation style goes out the window. Essays are spliced in. There are sections of narration repeated almost verbatim all through the book.
In a couple books, Tarl deals with the concept of Rape as it applies to Slave Girls. It is difficult to read, but marginally possible to rationalize. It would be something he would have to try and come to grips with, and he does so very awkwardly. In this book Rape and Gang Rape are treated as a sexual acts as apposed to a crime of violence. Even if the author wanted those scenes in the book, as acts of violence, a fade to black would have been appropriate. Rape was used as a weapon of war on in reality, particularly in WWII. But that does not seem to be the reason here. It just happens and it made me ill. This author KNOWS that rape is a crime of violence, and rape by strangers, gang rape by strangers is not something I want to read about. There is no excuse for this, Norman knows better, and he crossed the line here in a big way. There are logical errors, plot holes, characters acting in a way that is so unusual that it is hard to suspend one’s disbelief. The protagonist is so unpredictable that she comes across to me as being completely insane. It is impossible to care about her, and her dialog regresses, contradicts, and sometimes makes no sense at all.
I would not have published this book. It would have been not be censorship, it would be refusing to sell a defective product to a consumer who has waited a long time to find out what happens next. We don’t. It can’t be re-edited, it is a hopeless waste of words. This book consists of 30 hours of dialog, and perhaps 3 short scenes that are interesting, and perhaps 3 pages worth of advancement of the story line. It is an angry, badly written diatribe. I would love to write a synopsis of the plot so nobody has to plod through this mess. It would consist of no more then 4 paragraphs, that is all there was in 30 hours of non stop rambling that mattered. The characters argue about sex while being chased by enemy troops. The new characters are almost identical, it is hard to tell any of them apart, and their motivations are never made clear. The author has published his own papers under his real name. That is the appropriate way to do what he attempts to do here. He contradicts himself, makes actual factual errors in biology, changes narration styles randomly, and for the first time, some Gorean men are portrayed as borderline psychopathic sadists. Love, usually a common theme is derided and treated as an unimportant superficial issue. There is no soul to this book, just vitriol. There are virtually no LIKABLE characters, and the highlight of the book is a visit by Janice from Witness. If Kur of Gor is like this, I’m done with the series. I don’t think it will be. If you decide to read this book, feel free to scream “Feed her to Sleen!” I did about 50 times.
First off I’m giving Chelsea Hatfield 5 stars for actually taking on this project and completing it. The beginning chapters of Witness are a narrator’s nightmare. Bravo. Our Kajira Protagonist is dictating this story. She’s thinking in English sometimes, Gorean other times, and who knows to whom she is dictating the story. Doesn’t matter to me. I almost gave up on this book after hardcopy reading about 1/6th of it. I’m very glad I decided to listen to the audio book and force myself to stick with it. As “Janice” learns Gorean she eventually begins to slow down, use punctuation, and tell a story. By the time I was ¾ of the way through I actually liked Janice. She is unique, I think, because she actually comes to grips with her situation in her first run-on sentence filled gush of narration. Then she gets on with business.
The author takes full advantage of his famous: “ “blah, blah, blah, as I have indicated before, blah, blah, and such, I thought, and blah, blah, not to forget blah and such..” A barrage of arrows suddenly fell from the sky killing all the guards. A tarn swooped down low and pooed on my head, and a fellow with an urt on a leash cried out, “Kneel or Die!” “ technique that makes these books fun.
You need to read this book to keep going. There is a really good story, some answers, and a pretty good adventure or two. Just be patient with Janice, she does eventually learn how to take a breath. There is also a bit of a digression about “Masks” that stopped me dead. It was very well written and made me think quite a bit. I want to find that part in the actual book and read it again.
DO NOT read Magicians unless you have read both Vagabonds and Renegades. Tarl's experiences in the Delta change him in subtle ways. Magicians is the only one of the books up to this point that I had only read once. I remember a totally different ending, and was content that that was the end of the story. Now that Norman is no longer blacklisted, and these books are ALL back in print including Dancer, I look forward to hearing what is going to happen. I bought Witness on Ebay as a self published print on demand book and have read about 1/3rd of it. I decided that I had to go back and start over. These audio books are the author's approved versions. I have no desire to look for differences in my versions, I'm sure they exist. These are the versions the author wanted to stand the test of time and I'm not going to argue with him.... I like the ending much better then the one I remember, and I know that I get to meet Tarl again in a couple of books. Revenge is a dish best served cold.... Tarl takes it in spades here. I think he's still in love with Vella though.... or at least I believe so. I wonder if he is ever going to figure out that the Black Tarn let her ride it. To me, that matters, but at least she is safe in Port Kar. I missed out on what happened to her the last 3 times around. Of course I'm a romantic. There are new Gor books to read. Hard to believe, but true. I wish you well.
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