Friday, July 31, 2015

Mahars of Pellucidar by John Eric Holmes

I bought this 1976 paperback because I liked the naked woman on the cover being attacked by a giant squid. Somehow it may have vaguely registered with me that Pellucidar was the world Edgar Rice Burroughs created in his novels At The Earth's Core and its sequel, Pellucidar. The Conan style male wielding the axe was certainly reminiscent of Robert E. Howard’s famous sword and sorcery character. In other words, here was a piece of paperback cover artwork that appealed to my red-blooded gee-whiz sensibilities. Who cares if the novel was a pastiche of Burroughs and the cover was a hybrid of pulp fiction artwork from the 1930s? That chick was awesome. Mahars of Pellucidar by John Eric Holmes was, of course, an officially licensed continuation of the Pellucidar world and published by Ace Books with cover artwork by Boris Vallejo. Fantasy paperback collectors are quite familiar with this book. Holmes wrote a good novel. I wouldn’t rate it as good as Burroughs himself, but it captured the style and imaginative qualities that make Edgar Rice Burroughs so fun to read even today. Mahars of Pellucidar bears no connection to the characters from the Burroughs novels other than the name “Pellucidar” and storytelling style. Perhaps that’s why the Burroughs estate never authorized another book from Holmes. In this story, Christopher West creates a teleportation beam that transports him to another age. He carries with him a red pocket knife for which he becomes known as Red Axe. His adventures are on par with the Burroughs style of testosterone laced action. Many, many writers have attempted to match the flavor of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Sometimes those writers succeed and sometimes they don’t. Burroughs was one of a kind.  Mahars of Pellucida covers familiar territory. Wild creatures, savages, and rugged terrain all put Christopher West to a test of endurance. I enjoyed it without being too impressed, and I still love the cover.

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