Fwd: [LinCarter] "Hurok of the Stone Age" in Review (From 2006)
- "Zanthodo" comung as well.
From: Steve <steveseg@...>
To: lincarter <firstname.lastname@example.org>; thb <email@example.com>
Sent: Mon, Jun 24, 2013 12:22 pm
Subject: [LinCarter] "Hurok of the Stone Age" in Review (From 2006)
"Hurok of the Stone Age"
Lin Carter continues to follow ERB's titling of his Zanthodon Series. Both used the lands
nick name in the first book, the real names in the second and both authors used supporting
character names in books three and four.
1. "At the Earth's Core" and "Journey to the underground World"
2. "Pellucidar" and "Zanthodon"
3. "Tanar of Pellucidar" and "Hurok of the Stone Age"
4. "Tarzan at the Earth's Core" and "Darya of the Bronze Age"
Speaking of whom, Darya is only mentioned a few times in passing during "Hurok of the Stone Age" and never appears. Our Princess will dominate the fourth book which matches the third in time-line.
I hope the readers of these posts don't mind my geographical comments but I'm double
checking the accuracy of my own map of Zanthodon and so far it seems I'm right on, as far as the known areas of this inner world continent are concerned. For it seems that Zanthodon is just that, a single continent with some outlying islands. True, only the western and northern coasts have been explored in the five books but Eric Carstairs himself states (page 41) that "the Thandarians and Sotharians reached the point at which the shoreline curves back upon itself, and found the northernmost extremity of the continent." However, I also note that "Here a broad arm of the underground sea extended like a natural barrier, making further progress impossible. Along this arm of the Sogar-Jad were many small and rocky islands, a veritable archipelago, in fact." Two pages earlier, Carstairs comments that "the shoreline bulged outwards, curving back upon itself farther to the north." I have shown "the bulge" and these islands as well as El-Cazar but not the afore mentioned "broad arm." Probably a wide bay as opposed to a gulf but why the party could not continue, I can't explain. Sure the bay itself was an obstacle but why not travel via the shoreline?
Another clue (page 16) that only western Zanthodon has been explored by Lin Carter is that
"Zar, lay inland from the coast, far to the east." So really, we readers have no idea how
vast Zanthodon actually is or how many tribes exist beyond those already mentioned.
Gorad (appear in this book)
Numitor (appear in this book)
Gorthak (appear in fourth or fifth book)
Fisher Folk (appear in fourth or fifth book)
Aziru (appear in fourth or fifth book)
Plus of course the Drugars of Kor on Ganadol, the Minoans of Zar on the Lugar-Jad and the
Barbary Pirates of El-Cazar, among the Northern Isles.
Conversely, Pellucidar is deeper within the Earth and much vaster. I'm sure Abner Perry and
Professor Potter could give the relative number of square miles for each but Pellucidar has
several continents (it seems, though a full map could reveal that all the seas are actually
landlocked and part of the greater whole), thus rendering the Earth's Core having one huge
land mass as well. We may never know the true extent of both inner earth worlds but maybe
some day some intrepid soul(s) will push the boundaries of both?
The Scarlet City of Zar is protected by a ring of mountains called the Wall of Zar and an
inland sea know both as the Lugar-Jad and the Pnom-Jad (pages 46 - 48). Though described as the size of "one of the Great Lakes," there is a great island (upon which Zar is situated)
that is "in the exact center of the inland sea." Yet, Carstairs could easily discern the
city and its buildings from the shore and a stone causeway connects from there to the
island. Despite Minoan engineering, it is doubtful they could build a bridge that traversed
half of Lake Erie and the fact that Zar was easily viewed from shore shows the Pnom-Jad
(Little Sea) to be simply a very large lake but certainly no "Great one.
And since we're here, on the Pnom-Jad, I wonder why it is so named when the inhabitants on
Zar speak ancient Minoan and would presumably have named this "inland sea" upon taking
control of it, about three thousand years ago.
And why have the Minoans retained their language in whole? The Pirates of El Cazar, a far
more recent addition to Zanthodon, has already adopted the almost universal language of the
Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals (Drugars). And why would Zar fear a barbarian invasion? They have the Walls of Zar with only one pass readily available to an attacking horde, the Gates of Zar, carved in the likeness of its living god, the Zorgazon or T-Rex. Josh Kirby amply illustrates this on the cover, as Carstairs and Potter are brought into captivity to Zar. The narrow pass beyond the Gates of Zar shows itself to be easily defended against a numerically superior host. Then there is the Pnom-Jad itslef, crossable only by boat or narrow causeway. Thus far, only the far away Drugars of Kor seemed to have built primitive boats and the Pirates of El-Cazar, with far superior ships. Yet, how could either build a fleet on the shores of the inland sea, prior to assaulting Zar itself? As to the causeway, it could be easily defended or destroyed if need be.
Assuming that invaders could get this far, they'd still have to invade the city proper and
intense hand to hand fighting would result with the Minoans reluctant to give up their lives, families and homes.
Yet, there is a fleet of merchant and war ships abroad on the Pnom-Jad. With whom do they
trade as no mention of coastal settlements is made and with whom would they fight? Who would dare or be capable of attacking the Scarlet City of Zar?
My last piece of geographical data pertains to the so-called "mountain lake" that Jorn falls
into (pages 111 & 112) during a landslide in the Wall of Zar. It lies at the base of a mountain on the edge of the Northern Plains so technically it is a "lake close to a
Carstairs constantly refers to the people of Sothar and Thanador as Cro-Magnons but are they really? They migrated to Zanthodon perhaps ten thousand years ago (Potter could tell you), as Cro-Magnons but might they not have evolved into true Homo Sapiens as evidenced by the ascent of these two tribes (at least) through the Copper Age into that of the Bronze?
Speaking of which, though daggers, spears and bow and arrows have been invented, why not
swords? If bronze or copper are readily available would not a sword be the logical next
step, up from the smaller dagger?
I just noticed on page 89 that Carter (for once at least), refers to the Sotharian and
Thanadorians as "a hardy race, these direct "descendants" of our own Cro-Magnon ancestors."
On page 48, Captain Raphad reveals that Zar is in decline, population-wise as "the number of
our births is far less than the number of deaths." Why this is, I don't know but does this
mean that given sufficient time, Zar will fade into oblivion, invasion or not? Perhaps
inbreeding is a probable and if so, why not utilize their robust Cro-Magnon slaves to add
fresh blood and genes to that of the decadent Minoans?
Though the primitive nations of Sothar and Thanadar are far below the level of civilization
represented by Zar, both are in the Bronze Age (page 82). No iron in Zanthodon? I'll wait to
see if the Barbary Pirates have iron. The late and unlamented Gorpaks were of the Bronze Age also. A pity their past was not fully examined by Carter as they were somewhere between Zar and the two barbarian nations of Thanadar and Sothar, as far as level of civilization was concerned. It is not clear (at this time) whether or not the tribes of Gorad, Numitor or Gothak have advanced out of the Stone Age. It is curious that the tribes of Sothar and
Thanadar never interacted with those of Numitor or Gorad. The latter two are located "far to
the south" of Zar (page 173) apparently still north of the Peaks of Peril. Despite this
natural barrier, I would think that with the thousands of years spent in Zanthodon by these
tribes it would result in some sort of discovery of each other. On page 185, Garth of Sothar
recognizes the warriors fleeing Zar as those of Numitor and Gorad.
Of note to fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lin Carter utilizes the concept of primitive or
alien worlds being unaware of the art of pugilism (page 67) and Carstairs narrowly escapes
"A Fate Worse Than Death" at the hands of Empress Zarys (page 171). Speaking of who, not only does she look almost exactly like Darya, their names are darn
close as well. But the Empress is a bit older and far more sensuous, as evidenced by her
sexual fondling of Eric's pistol (page 109) and the general parading of her painted nipples
and nude nether regions. Total flaunting!
I was under the impression that only a handful of the tribe of Sothar were enslaved by the
Gorpaks, with the balance destroyed by the earthquake which drove them from their ancestral home. How else but with small numbers could the warlike Sotharians be captured by the relatively weak (militarily) Gorpaks? Yet, they are said to be numbered in the hundreds when they eventually split from the Thanadarians and when Captain Raphad spots them while on patrol (pages 89 & 106).
Carter does go where Burroughs did not, in terms of explicit sexual scenes or possibility.
The chance of "a bit of gang rape" on Ialys (slave girl of the Empress), is pondered by
Carstairs on page 174. That and the pistol barrel fondling by Zarys is pretty explicit for
this sort of tale.
I've already mentioned Josh Kirby's great cover art but his interiors deserve attention as
well. The Frontispiece represents an exaggeration of the scene on page 35. A thirty foot
snake does not tower over its victims like this xunth does. Still it is effictive.
On page 64 Kirby thankfully shows Yualla as he wants and not as Carter describes. Here we
see curves upon curves upon curves as opposed to the slender cave girl of carter. The
thakdol is nicely drawn but the vandar on page 123 is even more so. And here we see yet more of Yualla's delightful charms.
The journey through the sewers of Zar is rather poorly illustrated on page 158, as this
illustration is "too busy." Here, Empress Zarys is referred to as the "Witch Queen of Zar."
Is she a witch? I've seen no indication though she might be considered a goddess by her
subjects. Is she a Queen or Empress? Since she rules only the lands and seas within the
Walls of Zar and the nearby approaching Northern Plains, it seems that Queen is more
appropriate, since there are no conquered tribes to rule over, or to raid for fresh slaves.
But perhaps the title is ancestral, from ancient Crete when they did rule an empire in the
The last interior is of Zorgazon (T. Rex) on page 179 and is a dramatic one at that, with a
human dangling in its great jaws. But do we ever sea another such beast, even an allosaurus, in Zanthodon?
Plot-wise, "Hurok of the Stone Age" is the stories of Garth searching for his daughter
Yualla, Tharn like-wise searching for Darya (they both were carried off by thakdols), and
Hurok searching for Carstairs and Potter. By books end, we know that Darya is aboard a
Barbary Pirate ship headed for El Cazar while the host of Sothar and a smattering of
tribesmen from Numitor and Gorad is heading towards the northwest coast of Zanthodon to
unite with those of Thanadar. Yualla is rescued as well as Eric and the Professor, though
Garth is sorely wounded.
If there is one impression I am left with by this incredible Lin Carter novel, it is the
words of Eric Carstairs describing what Hurok had accomplished during his adventures (page
192). "Sometimes, in dire adversity, men break. Other men, however, pass through the fire
and emerge strong, tempered, like steel passing through a smith's forge. And thus had been
the fate of my old friend and comrade-in-peril, Hurok of the Stone Age."Well written, Lin!
Next up, "Darya of the Bronze Age" and Zanthodon's version of Korsar!
Steve S. / S.J.S.
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