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Lord of the Trees (Secrets of the Nine #2 - Wold Newton Parallel Universe) (The Memoirs of Lord Grandirth) Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
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Dr. Wesley Britton

Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE

 
By Dr. Wesley Britton
Published on December 15, 2012
 

Author: Philip Jose Farmer

Publisher: Titan Books; Reprint edition (November 13, 2012)

ISBN-10: 178116293X

ISBN-13: 978-1781162934



Author: Philip Jose Farmer

Publisher: Titan Books; Reprint edition (November 13, 2012)

ISBN-10: 178116293X

ISBN-13: 978-1781162934

Just as there are apparently parallel universes within Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton series of novels, there will be very different audiences for the second volume of the Secrets of the Nine trilogy. As Lord of the Trees is the sequel to the controversial A Feast Unknown, all readers should read that book before diving into Lord. Still, there are more than a few Farmer fans who experienced these novels when they first appeared in 1969 and after, and are very knowledgeable about the complex contexts these books are ostensibly part of. Of course, the new editions from Titan will reach new readers unaware of the surrounding mythology and will encounter the stories with fresh and very surprised eyes.

For that potential readership, they should know A Feast Unknown centered on the "real" Tarzan battling the "real" model for pulp fiction's Doc Savage. At the end of the novel, the two join forces to square off against the hidden and secretive "nine" immortals who had shaped their destinies. Controversial in its day for its graphic sex and violence, A Feast Unknown remains a book that isn't for the squeamish.

Lord of the Trees picks up the story with Lord Grandirth—alias Lord Greystoke alias Tarzan—falling into the sea from an exploding helicopter. He survives a shark attack, goes to his birth place, and, until the climactic battle at Stonehenge, is both hunter and hunted as small armies chase him with deadly intent. The plot is very simple—Grandirth outmatches his pursuers time and time again and, with cartoonish violence, shoots them down, blows them up, breaks their necks, or slits their throats. Unlike A Feast Unknown, Ganddrith is no longer afflicted with the side–effects of the immortality elixir and his penis isn't protruding every time he knocks off an opponent. Considering all the time he spends trying to hide in the bush, that's a good thing.

For Titan's reissue of A Feast Unknown, a new introduction and coda from Arthur C. Sippo joined science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon's classic analysis of the book seeking out possible literary themes in the book. For Lord, Win Scott Eckert contributed a new introduction, "A Tale of Two Universes," in which the Farmer expert tries to show how the divergent and contradictory Wold Newton books can be understood as one canon. That's a wise approach because if you seek serious messages in Lord of the Trees, your intellectual divining rod isn't going to find a target to point at.

The forthcoming The Mad Goblin (which had been published in one volume with Lord of the Trees in 1970) concludes this particular trilogy with presumably further new essays developing the meaning of it all. Considering the very two-dimensional nature of Lord, it's almost more interesting to see all the in-depth scholarly interest in books that were, after all, essentially pastiches of hard-boiled pulp fiction. Entertaining they are; I still need to be convinced they're worthy of all the debate.


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