Saturday, August 14, 2010

Book Review: At The Earth's Core

I had posted a review earlier but was unhappy with it and deleted it. Just FYI for those who might have read it. Now then off to Pellucidar.

As the book opens, an unnamed narrator out on safari in the Sahara desert runs into a man who tells him a wild story. And it is wild! David Innes has decided to use his inhertiance from his father's mine to help fund a project by his older friend Abner Perry-a huge drilling device nicknamed the "iron mole." On their first run of the device both men discover it cannot be turned and end up drilling to what the fear is their death. Instead they discover an "inner world" called Pellucidar inhabited by creatures that resemble long gone dinosaurs, humans in tribes and a ruling race called the Mahars-a race of pterodactyl like creatures with telepathic abilities. Once there David and Perry must find their way out and try to return back to the surface world. And there is a damsel in distress-Dian the Beautiful; some treacherous adventures and a fellow named Hooja the Sly One whose ultimate act might just cause David to lose what he has risked his life for.

I have to admit-it's been a long time since I read At the Earth's Core. Part of it may be that I felt it was disappointing initially. After devouring the John Carter of Mars and Carson of Venus series, I felt the idea of an inner world populated by dinos and cavemen just didn't grab me as much. I also feel-and still do-that Burroughs also didn't build up enough of a love story between David and Dian to justify David's mission to rescue her. Part of that is the fact she disappears in chapter 4 and doesn't reappear until the last two chapters, leaving a lot of space for David to attempt to flee the Mahars and wander around, fighting off other creatures and finding friends.

But now I actually liked it better. The main reason being David Innes himself. A stark contrast to the greatest swordsman of two worlds or the bumbling Carson Napier, David is a normal person trying to get back home-an old story that anyone can relate to and I found his adventure this time more interesting, maybe because I've gotten older and can relate to that. Of course being older I can also see some of the flaws in this book-the lack of a real narrative drive-it isn't until late in the game David decides to lead a revolt against the Mahars and their minions the Sagoths that might have given the book more speed. But Burroughs probably was considering a follow-up adventure and decided-like A Princess of Mars and Pirates of Venus-that establishing the characters and location was necessary first, so I'm willing to overlook it. Even though I still think the ending is the silliest of any of his books. All I'm going to say is next time look under the blanket.

My rating: *** out of 4. As for the four major series that Burroughs wrote, the best for me is well obviously the Barsoom series, followed by the Venus series and Pellucidar coming in third.

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