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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-09-14 19:24
Tarnsman of Gor
Tarnsman of Gor - John Norman

I have been familiar with the Gor series thought I haven't read any of them till this past week. 

I was surprised and delighted by this title. From what I herd about Gor, mostly from role-players on forums and in the virtual community of Second-Life  where there are player run areas, portraying the fictional universe of Gor.  

I knew about the lifestyle of people on GOR. It is a male driven society with a strong emphasis on hierarchy. I knew about the slave girls and that buying and selling of them as a common place activity on the planet of GOR. Even the finer details of serving paga (a common beverage on GOR) could be found out by visiting and interacting role-players living out their fantasies. 

What the role-play didn't address is the character of the protagonist being tested, whom comes from our very own planet, against the costumes and culture of a world foreign to him. 

After arriving on the planet of GOR, explained as a sort of counter earth, he is trained in the ways of a warrior and becomes a Tarnsman. These fighters known as tarnsmen take to the air on giant hawk like creatures. 

Tarl Cabot, the young warrior is given the task of stealing a near by cities Home stone. The home stone is an important object and by stealing a cities home stone is to steal it's identity, causing the city to fall into ruins.

This is what starts the young warrior's adventure.

On this adventure he captures the Uber's daughter (a ruler). He is confronted with his own humanity and the customs of this new planet. Gor is pretty cut and dry. Warriors of GOR either splatter or take their captives as slaves.  Tarl's kindness toward his captive is seen as weakness in the society he is now in.

Though through each encounter he sticks to his convictions and in the end is given respect for it. 

 

That is the heart of this story and I am wondering if it becomes a theme through out the rest of the series.    

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review 2014-11-29 15:55
Priest-Kings of Gor by John Norman
Priest-Kings of Gor: (#3) - John Norman

John Norman's Priest-Kings of Gor is about a Hero whose city has been destroyed, whose friends and family have been scattered and isolated one from another, and who knows exactly who to blame for it. The responsible parties are the planet's alien overlords, the Priest-Kings, whom the Hero, Tarl Cabot, has hated since first learning of their existence. So it follows that Tarl will travel to their mountain domain and kick the crap out of them. That's the way these stories go.

But it isn't quite the way this one goes. Part of the reason for this is that the Priest-Kings don't act without reason, and if they allow Tarl to enter their domain, which they do, it is because they have a plan for him. Another part is Tarl himself, who never kills anyone if he doesn't have to. He talks a good game, and he's certainly got the skills and the strength to back it up in most cases, but when push comes to shove, he's more likely to bloody a nose than pull an Ender Wiggin and utterly destroy his opponent. He's reasonable that way.

Priest-Kings is the most overtly science fictional of the first three Gor books and it is because of the Priest-Kings themselves. They are aliens possessing a high technology and an insectile physique. They are the gods of Gor, and how humbling for mankind that their gods live in a nest. And that they enslave humans to work it. Where the previous books were all about swordplay and archery, this one substitutes blast rays and flying disks.

And it works. While these books are classified as science fiction, I think it's fair to say that they are sufficiently hybridized with fantasy to cause a certain confusion on the part of prospective readers (and a number of reader-critics). What makes them science fiction, though, isn't the space-age trappings, it is the point of view. Norman has more on his mind than heroism and high drama: Gorean philosophy -- and that includes that of the Priest-Kings -- is what interests him. How else to explain a scene in which we find our muscle-bound hero enjoying grooming an insect?

That's another thing: the Gor books are funnier than I've seen anyone give them credit for, and a whole lot smarter. Norman, of course, is partly to blame for this, with his abiding fascination with gender roles, and particularly the subservience of women. But even here, from what I've read so far, he hasn't said much beyond what I see on the covers on hundreds of romance novels. Women prefer dominant men. Stop the presses. Or, rather, don't, for that would eradicate an entire literary genre.

Three Gor novels so far, and each one has been better than the last. It's a progression Norman can't possibly maintain, but I will say this to anyone on the fence about reading these books. These first three form what is almost a trilogy, and their reputation has yet to catch up with them. If the adventures are of interest, treat yourself and give these a read.

Then tell me if you agree that Orson Scott Card must have done so.

Good fun - 3
Sexist sadomasochism - 0

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