Long ago in their intraspecific conflicts a violent, technologically sophisticated life form, the Kurii, destroyed their native world. They now seek another. Between Earth and Gor, or the Counterearth, and the power of the imperialistic, predatory Kurii, now ensconced in the -Steel Worlds,- a number of satellite colonies concealed amongst the debris of the asteroid belt, stands only the defensive might of the Priest-Kings of Gor. Tarl Cabot, once of Bristol, England, laboring in behalf of the Priest-Kings, once managed to foil a Kur attempt to set the stage for an invasion of Gor. In that venture he encountered a worthy foe, the redoubtable Half-Ear, or Zarendargar, now fallen from favor in the Steel Worlds. The Kurii, unforgiving and relentless, have sent a death squad to Gor seeking Zarendargar. They seek the assistance of Cabot in this enterprise, but he declines to be of service. A decorated piece of hide, bearing strange symbols, tells a story, which may or may not be true. It suggests that Half-Ear, or Zarendargar, whom Cabot believed dead, may yet live. The death squad will seek Zarendargar, but, so, too, will Cabot, to warn him, for once, long ago, and faraway, in the polar north of Gor, each with the other had shared drink, a gesture of warriors, a cup lifted amongst foes. But to pursue this mission Cabot must enter and traverse the Barrens, the vast Eastern prairies of the primary Gorean continent, lands contested by tribes of warring savages, lands forbidden to strangers.
©1982 John Norman (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Tarl goes to the Barrens of Gor in search of one with whom he once shared Paga. Part I (My review is the same for Savages and Blood Brothers)
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, this is it. 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 book should have either been a short story, or the opening couple of chapters for Tarl heading into the barrens. However, the story has been padded with hours of Tarl, a slave girl, and captive free woman conversing.
The long drawn out dialogs adds very little to the background of the story, or the world of Gor. I kept hoping that the dialogs would circle back around to the story arc (the hunt for a Kuri named Zarendargar.)
The low overall rating has everything to do with contents of the book and nothing to do with Ralph Lister or his performance. With out his performance I don't know I could have gotten though the whole thing.
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