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The Outlaw of Torn by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fiction, Historical

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Here is a story that has lain dormant for seven hundred years. At first it was suppressed by one of the Plantagenet kings of England. Later it was forgotten. I happened to dig it up by accident. The accident being the relationship of my wife's cousin to a certain Father Superior in a very ancient monastery in Europe. He let me pry about among a quantity of mildewed and mus Here is a story that has lain dormant for seven hundred years. At first it was suppressed by one of the Plantagenet kings of England. Later it was forgotten. I happened to dig it up by accident. The accident being the relationship of my wife's cousin to a certain Father Superior in a very ancient monastery in Europe. He let me pry about among a quantity of mildewed and musty manuscripts and I came across this. It is very interesting -- partially since it is a bit of hitherto unrecorded history, but principally from the fact that it records the story of a most remarkable revenge and the adventurous life of its innocent victim -- Richard, the lost prince of England. In the retelling of it I have left out most of the history. What interested me was the unique character about whom the tale revolves -- the visored horseman who -- but let us wait until we get to him. It all happened in the thirteenth century, and while it was happening it shook England from north to south and from east to west; and reached across the channel and shook France.


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Here is a story that has lain dormant for seven hundred years. At first it was suppressed by one of the Plantagenet kings of England. Later it was forgotten. I happened to dig it up by accident. The accident being the relationship of my wife's cousin to a certain Father Superior in a very ancient monastery in Europe. He let me pry about among a quantity of mildewed and mus Here is a story that has lain dormant for seven hundred years. At first it was suppressed by one of the Plantagenet kings of England. Later it was forgotten. I happened to dig it up by accident. The accident being the relationship of my wife's cousin to a certain Father Superior in a very ancient monastery in Europe. He let me pry about among a quantity of mildewed and musty manuscripts and I came across this. It is very interesting -- partially since it is a bit of hitherto unrecorded history, but principally from the fact that it records the story of a most remarkable revenge and the adventurous life of its innocent victim -- Richard, the lost prince of England. In the retelling of it I have left out most of the history. What interested me was the unique character about whom the tale revolves -- the visored horseman who -- but let us wait until we get to him. It all happened in the thirteenth century, and while it was happening it shook England from north to south and from east to west; and reached across the channel and shook France.

30 review for The Outlaw of Torn by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fiction, Historical

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leothefox

    Here's a rarity: a historical Burroughs novel with medieval knights and no science-fiction or fantasy elements. There's no time travel, no genetic memory, no monsters, no portals, no message in a bottle, and no framing device at all! In another very real sense, “The Outlaw of Torn” is still very much the stuff of ERB's most celebrated fiction. It contains the familiar ingredients of displaced persons of royal birth, extensive sword play, a mighty hero with the world against him, plotters at cou Here's a rarity: a historical Burroughs novel with medieval knights and no science-fiction or fantasy elements. There's no time travel, no genetic memory, no monsters, no portals, no message in a bottle, and no framing device at all! In another very real sense, “The Outlaw of Torn” is still very much the stuff of ERB's most celebrated fiction. It contains the familiar ingredients of displaced persons of royal birth, extensive sword play, a mighty hero with the world against him, plotters at court, abduction, rescue, and a seemingly doomed romance. This is only Burroughs' second novel, written immediately after “A Princess of Mars” but published later, and it illustrates the pulp giant still unsure of the formula that would soon launch him to fame and fortune. The story is set in 13th century England and it concerns a vindictive French sword-master stealing an infant prince and raising him under another name for revenge against the king. The prince grows to be Norman of Torn (aka Outlaw of Torn, aka Devil of Torn, aka Roger de Conde...) who speaks French and live to slaughter all English pig-dogs. England is already ill at ease with the king abusing the rights of his barons and everybody else, so when Torn amasses an army of bandits the timing couldn't be much worse. Under one of his identities, Torn woos the royal Bertrade de Montfort (what do you call a girl named Bertrade? Bertie?) and this romance meets the usual complications. Although Torn raids and kills and robs with a death sentence hanging over him, he gains a reputation for his chivalry and he is lauded for never lying and never “turning his blade against women”. According to Richard Lupoff, Burroughs had trouble selling “The Outlaw of Torn” to the magazines, so it didn't appear until 1914. The book has a sort of rocky version of themes that were also present in “A Princess of Mars” and “Tarzan of the Apes”. The only thing really missing is invention. “The Outlaw of Torn” is not a fully realized Burroughs epic, because it shows Burroughs following rather than leading in the realm of popular fiction. I think this is actually part of what makes this a must-read for Burroughs fans, since it's sort of a lost link in the chain that got ERB started. I know I would have liked it better if it had weird races and lost kingdoms and some oddball pseudo-scientific theme. Somehow I think a more demanding editor might have forced Burroughs to turn this into his grade-A stuff, the kind that got sequels.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Tales of knights in armor, largely sanitized to fit into one’s pulp adventure mindset, have been popular for years. With Edgar Rice Burroughs being a master of the pulp genre, it should be no surprise that The Outlaw of Torn, ERB’s saga of a fierce outlaw during the conflict between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, is such a tale as would have delighted me as a boy and intrigued me even as an adult. Confused identities have been a staple of the chivalry or swordplay novel whether Twain’s parody Tales of knights in armor, largely sanitized to fit into one’s pulp adventure mindset, have been popular for years. With Edgar Rice Burroughs being a master of the pulp genre, it should be no surprise that The Outlaw of Torn, ERB’s saga of a fierce outlaw during the conflict between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, is such a tale as would have delighted me as a boy and intrigued me even as an adult. Confused identities have been a staple of the chivalry or swordplay novel whether Twain’s parody of The Prince and the Pauper or Aramis’ plan to replace an evil king with his imprisoned identical twin in The Man in the Iron Mask. The visor-guised highwayman king of The Outlaw of Torn has just such a mistaken or secret identity, if you will. Burroughs doesn’t really try to create historical fiction in the sense that some author’s do, but he captures the spirit, sometimes the mean-spirited aspects, and the system we often call chivalry, but which was actually an unjust feudalism. For example, ERB describes the strict class system of the era in a fascinating description. “What a man did in those rough cruel days might be forgotten and forgiven but the sins of his mother or his grandfather in not being of noble blood, no matter how so wickedly attained, he might never overcome or live down.” (p. 193) The Outlaw of Torn begins with Henry III insulting some of his most loyal supporters. From that insult grows a tale of vengeance, and just as a desire for vengeance easily turns into bitterness within oneself, it can become a matter of cruelty victimizing those not at fault. The instigator of the vengeance must connive and even betray one that he has victimized to gain his revenge. But even as he gains his desired result, he is betrayed by his own plan. Betrayal begets betrayal, but the cost is high in terms of deaths and justice. Perhaps, that lack of justice is what causes the protagonist to have a less than positive view of God. On one occasion, he tells a priest that he is as hypocritical as the priest’s congregants: “I be willing to leave it in His hands, which seems to be the way of Christians. When one would shirk a responsibility, or explain an error, lo, one shoulders it upon the Lord.” (p. 196) And in that same discussion, he is quite honest about his lack of a relationship with God: “As I take not the Lord in partnership in my successes it seemeth to me to be but of a mean and poor spirit to saddle my sorrows and perplexities on Him.” (pp. 196-197) Although I believe The Outlaw of Torn to be more pulp adventure than historical fiction, the swordplay and tropes of the former build quite successfully on the flavor of the latter. The Outlaw of Torn won’t teach you the kind of history you’d glean from Sharon K Penman’s or Edith Pargeter’s (Ellis Peters’) fictional accounts, but it will give you some thrills and delights along the way.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gale

    THE EDUCATION OF AN OUTLAW--THE ULTIMATE REVENGE! In a welcome departure from ERB’s formulaic plotting and sequels ad nauseum this novel, his 2nd in fact, is relatively unknown but would make wonderful fodder for a Hollywood swashbuckler. Combining both actual history with fantastic fiction the creator of TARZAN and the MARS series has woven a tapestry with threads of hatred and revenge, passion and treachery. Set in the violent 13th century era of King Henry III and Simon de Montfort, this st THE EDUCATION OF AN OUTLAW--THE ULTIMATE REVENGE! In a welcome departure from ERB’s formulaic plotting and sequels ad nauseum this novel, his 2nd in fact, is relatively unknown but would make wonderful fodder for a Hollywood swashbuckler. Combining both actual history with fantastic fiction the creator of TARZAN and the MARS series has woven a tapestry with threads of hatred and revenge, passion and treachery. Set in the violent 13th century era of King Henry III and Simon de Montfort, this story demonstrates the patience required for ultimate revenge—eclipsing The Count of Monte Cristo’s bitter dreams against his conspirators in a heartbeat. French master of sword, Sir Jules De Vac, feeling insulted by the English king whose soldiers he instructs and trains, devises the most heinous plan to avenge himself on his royal patron: to kidnap the child prince, raise him in France until the age of 21, then return to invade England with his own band of ruthless cutthroats. For when Norman of Torn, as he will become known, has caused Henry enough grief, the King will put a price on his head; the young man will be captured and exicuted without pity. The day that he swings the manipulative De Vac will emerge from the shadows to reap his overdue recompense: he will proclaim that the King has hanged his own, long-lost son! (A special secret mark on Torn’s body will verify this claim.) Trained in France the future outlaw is drilled relentlessly in two areas: to wield the sword masterfully, of course, and to despise all things English--although he must learn the hated language in order to fulfill De Vac’s vicious scheme. A true example of pulp fiction this story includes romance—with a lovely English noblewoman, Bertrade de Montfort, who knows him only as Normal of Torn. Since she is the daughter of Henry’s rival De Vac is privately delighted at this unexpected turn of events, but at the end of day young Torn is not destined for love or for the crown--only for the gibbet. De Vac fails to take into consideration the strength of a noble nature--even if repressed during years of negative nurture. ERB’s wonderful sense of pacing and excellent storytelling skills make this stand-alone novel a real page-turner! The discovery of love versus the overwhelming obsession for revenge on the part of his mentor combat Torn's internal struggle to discover his true idientiy--making the Outlaw of Torn an unforgettable character. A masterpieces of dramatic conflict! (August 13, 2013)

  4. 4 out of 5

    wanderer

    Had I read this at fourteen, it would've received five stars and favorite status. Ah, timing... It's a great book still, though one of my favorite characters didn't make it to the end. It's full of knights and ladies, gloomy castles, dark secrets, revenge, deceit and valor. I'd label it a rollicking good tale, a mixture of Robin Hood, From the Valley of the Missing, and The Black Arrow. Had I read this at fourteen, it would've received five stars and favorite status. Ah, timing... It's a great book still, though one of my favorite characters didn't make it to the end. It's full of knights and ladies, gloomy castles, dark secrets, revenge, deceit and valor. I'd label it a rollicking good tale, a mixture of Robin Hood, From the Valley of the Missing, and The Black Arrow.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Critchfield

    I don't know why I waited so long to re-read this one; I loved it. I don't know why I waited so long to re-read this one; I loved it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    As a boy, I was enamored of the Martian and Tarzan series' of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Along the way, I found a nearly forgotten novel he wrote, widely panned by critics, but which I really liked. Go figure. The Outlaw of Torn is a fanciful tale of a prince who becomes a highwayman, and then a prince again. Through an unbelievably remarkable set of circumstances (ERB was known for those), he also becomes the greatest swordsman in England. Being a fan of swordfighting adventures, this was r As a boy, I was enamored of the Martian and Tarzan series' of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Along the way, I found a nearly forgotten novel he wrote, widely panned by critics, but which I really liked. Go figure. The Outlaw of Torn is a fanciful tale of a prince who becomes a highwayman, and then a prince again. Through an unbelievably remarkable set of circumstances (ERB was known for those), he also becomes the greatest swordsman in England. Being a fan of swordfighting adventures, this was right up my alley. However, what I liked most about it was what I also liked about ERB's other books. Themes of personal honor, respect for womanhood, courage, and other such "outmoded" concerns play out repeatedly in his novels, and appealed strongly to my young heart. It is not well written, the wordsmithing lacks punch, the plot is overwrought, and the characters underdeveloped, but something in it appealed to me anyway.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    This story is much more believable and in many ways superior to other (more widely known) novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It resembles Men of Iron by Howard Pyle and Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. A man seeks revenge for a serious slight and kidnaps Prince Richard, second son of King Henry III. What greater revenge can be taken on an enemy than turning his own son against him and all Englishmen? The best laid plans often miss the mark and when the love of a woman is involved all bets ar This story is much more believable and in many ways superior to other (more widely known) novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It resembles Men of Iron by Howard Pyle and Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. A man seeks revenge for a serious slight and kidnaps Prince Richard, second son of King Henry III. What greater revenge can be taken on an enemy than turning his own son against him and all Englishmen? The best laid plans often miss the mark and when the love of a woman is involved all bets are off. Burroughs´ knowledge of arms and sword fighting techniques are far from accurate but the story, as a whole, is not only very readable but extremely entertaining. History and fate have put this book behind the author´s Tarzan series and science fiction stories but I think this is Edgar Rice Burroughs´ best work and warmly recommend it to all lovers of action and romance.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James McKenna

    When I was fifteen, the cover of the current paperback showed a brawny man on a Percheron under a churning sky. He wore a red cape over mail and hid his face under a Norman helmet, and he brandished a sword point forward. Frazetta, I'm sure. Of course I snapped it up. Burroughs delivers action and drama, and this is a great one for that. The good are put to the test and the evil die cowardly deaths. There's a girl. I read it now and again; it's never as good now as it was on whatever hot afterno When I was fifteen, the cover of the current paperback showed a brawny man on a Percheron under a churning sky. He wore a red cape over mail and hid his face under a Norman helmet, and he brandished a sword point forward. Frazetta, I'm sure. Of course I snapped it up. Burroughs delivers action and drama, and this is a great one for that. The good are put to the test and the evil die cowardly deaths. There's a girl. I read it now and again; it's never as good now as it was on whatever hot afternoon I read it then. You have to be a teenager to appreciate melodrama fully. But the image of Norman of Torn, while crossing swords with the bestial antagonist carving his initials in the man's sweating forehead, stays with me. If they ever made a movie of it, I'd have to take a miss. It's all clear in my mind; I wouldn't want to lose that.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terry Yaceyko

    Oh, this is one of my favorite childhood books and it is in tatters. Who is Norman of Torn and where did he come from? The answers are hard to believe. I love the action and the underlying secret. Very good read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Angela Ashe

    Great Medieval Fiction I started reading Edgar Rice Burroughs for the John Carter Novels. Imagine my surprise to find this gem. For one who enjoys science fiction and political thrillers this tale of knights and chivalry was a great bread.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elar

    In style on Black Arrow and Ivanhoe book is quite amusing medieval adventure story about boy with a Stockholm syndrome.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joel Mitchell

    Earlier this month I read Tarzan of the Apes and was thoroughly unimpressed. I decided to give Burroughs another shot in a genre that didn’t lend itself as easily to product-of-its-era casual racism. Judging from the awkwardly drawn musclebound caped rider on the cover I thought this was something in the swords & sorcery genre, but it turned out to be historical(ish) fiction set during the reign of England’s King Henry III. The plot features a (completely fictional) prince kidnapped at a very you Earlier this month I read Tarzan of the Apes and was thoroughly unimpressed. I decided to give Burroughs another shot in a genre that didn’t lend itself as easily to product-of-its-era casual racism. Judging from the awkwardly drawn musclebound caped rider on the cover I thought this was something in the swords & sorcery genre, but it turned out to be historical(ish) fiction set during the reign of England’s King Henry III. The plot features a (completely fictional) prince kidnapped at a very young age and raised as an England-hating outlaw by a vengeance-seeking French swordmaster. As you would expect in adventure pulp, there’s very little actual history as the plot revolves around swashbuckling, chivalry, and romance. Basically it was the cheaper, pulpier version of escapist classics like Scott’s Ivanhoe or Stevenson’s The Black Arrow. Given its genre, it was okay…I probably would have really enjoyed it as a young teenager. One thing that I found interesting/stupid is that Burroughs repeatedly denigrates the era’s obsession with noble birth, but also weaves in the “blood will tell” trope for our noble-born-but-raised-as-an-outlaw hero. I guess it doesn’t pay to think too hard when it comes to pulp…just sit back and enjoy the hokey action if you can.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    A king insults his swordsmanship teacher, and how does the teacher get revenge? By kidnapping the king’s young son and training him up to hate everything British, especially the king. And by training him to use a sword really well, and to become an outlaw. The idea is that eventually the son will be hanged by the crown, and then the king can be told that he has killed his own son. At least that’s the plan. And it almost happens. The author of this tale is Edgar Rice Burroughs, better known as th A king insults his swordsmanship teacher, and how does the teacher get revenge? By kidnapping the king’s young son and training him up to hate everything British, especially the king. And by training him to use a sword really well, and to become an outlaw. The idea is that eventually the son will be hanged by the crown, and then the king can be told that he has killed his own son. At least that’s the plan. And it almost happens. The author of this tale is Edgar Rice Burroughs, better known as the creator of Tarzan. But sword fights can be at least as exciting as swinging through trees, as he shows here.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amiranus Romanus

    (view spoiler)[ Soo.. let me get this straight: In the first half of the book Norman is all like: Well, I was taught to hate the English before I knew why they were bad, but now that I see how the king, barons and the church treat the poor I'm gonna stand up to them. In the second half he's like: Well, I like this chick who's the daughter of this earl, soo I'm gonna exclude his supporters from my wrath. And in the end he's like: Welp, if I'd known I was a prince I'd only have lifted my sword for my (view spoiler)[ Soo.. let me get this straight: In the first half of the book Norman is all like: Well, I was taught to hate the English before I knew why they were bad, but now that I see how the king, barons and the church treat the poor I'm gonna stand up to them. In the second half he's like: Well, I like this chick who's the daughter of this earl, soo I'm gonna exclude his supporters from my wrath. And in the end he's like: Welp, if I'd known I was a prince I'd only have lifted my sword for my royal parents. Norman of Torn, Champion of the Poor* *conditions apply (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    I read this book when I was 12 or 13, and I think it contributed to how I grew up. (I hope I absorbed the good parts, and left the bad parts behind.) I finally got around to rereading this, decades later. It wasn't as outstanding and flawless as I had romanticized it to being, but it was still quite good. Except for the gaping hole at the very end of the book. A gaping hole which had been alluded to a couple chapters from the end, during Norman's final conversation with Father Claude. It's very mu I read this book when I was 12 or 13, and I think it contributed to how I grew up. (I hope I absorbed the good parts, and left the bad parts behind.) I finally got around to rereading this, decades later. It wasn't as outstanding and flawless as I had romanticized it to being, but it was still quite good. Except for the gaping hole at the very end of the book. A gaping hole which had been alluded to a couple chapters from the end, during Norman's final conversation with Father Claude. It's very much a Burroughs book. If you like ERB, you'll love this. If you don't, you won't.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    Adventure and Romance A fun, exciting, medieval adventure and romance. Old style; the hero is brave and noble and the heroine virtuous, brave and beautiful. The author jabs at class distinctions and make the improbable seem almost natural. Lots of fun!

  17. 4 out of 5

    John

    If ERB hadn't written it, would have remained obscure. Nice pre-Tarzan appearance of a Greystoke, though. If ERB hadn't written it, would have remained obscure. Nice pre-Tarzan appearance of a Greystoke, though.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kirk Dobihal

    Interesting story with an abrupt ending.

  19. 4 out of 5

    jim miller

    The outlaw of Torn I read the entire book in a 24 hour period. Great read. I could not put the book down except to sleep. Burroughs was a great writer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Len Shields

    This is good action packed story of betrayal, love and towing the line between whats right and wrong, enjoyable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    R. Kent

    An exciting story based in England in the middle ages. This book is worth reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Strumke

    I recently decided to read some classic early 20th century sci-fi (HG Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, etc). So I purchased a copy of the John Carter of Mars compendium by ERB when I saw it in a bookstore. I also had this copy of “Outlaw of Torn” lying around the house unread for a long time so I decided to make this the jumping off point of my excursion into classic sci-fi authors. One thing to consider, however, if you want to read this book is that “Outlaw of Torn” is neither sci-fi n I recently decided to read some classic early 20th century sci-fi (HG Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, etc). So I purchased a copy of the John Carter of Mars compendium by ERB when I saw it in a bookstore. I also had this copy of “Outlaw of Torn” lying around the house unread for a long time so I decided to make this the jumping off point of my excursion into classic sci-fi authors. One thing to consider, however, if you want to read this book is that “Outlaw of Torn” is neither sci-fi nor fantasy. It’s more of a book of historical fiction that takes place in medieval England and France. The story itself is good, enjoyable, if not spectacular. The main protagonist is a rather ruthless character but not entirely unsympathetic. It’s a relatively short book – I think I read it in one day or two (I’m writing this review about a month after I read it). I believe this was ERB’s second published book and I’m sure his writing improved over time and I’m sure that the John Carter from Mars books are even better. I would recommend this book as a good, quick easy read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Buroughs delivers in this enchanting tale of love and passion, murder, intrigue, and the ever dashing prince turned outlaw! Here, we travel to medieval England where turmoil reigns; King Henry III is at odds with his barons, political pressure hails from across the channel, and a certain Frenchman concocts one of the most ambitious plots to obtain vengeance, by abducting Richard, the young English prince. Taking the boy in his "care," De Vac teaches him three things; one, to be a swordsman of th Buroughs delivers in this enchanting tale of love and passion, murder, intrigue, and the ever dashing prince turned outlaw! Here, we travel to medieval England where turmoil reigns; King Henry III is at odds with his barons, political pressure hails from across the channel, and a certain Frenchman concocts one of the most ambitious plots to obtain vengeance, by abducting Richard, the young English prince. Taking the boy in his "care," De Vac teaches him three things; one, to be a swordsman of the kind the world has never seen. Two, to do without the frivolities that society offers, and three, to hate all things English. This sets the young rogue, soon known as the Norman of Torn, against his royal parents as he gathers an army of cut throats and thieves and begins to systematically sack royalist and rebel alike. It is no surprise, however, that when the beautiful niece of King Henry intrudes upon the stage, that the Outlaw of Torn finds himself torn between the life he has made for himself and the life he yearns to possess.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Distressed damsel rescuin', court intrigue, a lost prince, identifying birthmarks, flowery dialog like the King James version of the Bible (even though the action takes place several hundred years prior and should probably be closer to Chaucer), sword fights galore, lots and lots of romance . . . What's not to like? It's even got a brief cameo appearance by one Lord Greystoke, surely a distant ancestor of John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, a.k.a. Tarzan of the Apes. It's got all the ingredients you'v Distressed damsel rescuin', court intrigue, a lost prince, identifying birthmarks, flowery dialog like the King James version of the Bible (even though the action takes place several hundred years prior and should probably be closer to Chaucer), sword fights galore, lots and lots of romance . . . What's not to like? It's even got a brief cameo appearance by one Lord Greystoke, surely a distant ancestor of John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, a.k.a. Tarzan of the Apes. It's got all the ingredients you've read or seen in movies a hundred times before -- because they are satisfying. I gave it four stars only because I cared about the characters and what happens to them, if not for originality. There's nothing too deep here, but may not a shallow babbling brook be as pleasant as the sea?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I found this book in the upstairs of a used bookstore downtown when I was about 15 or so (25 years ago), and it was absolutely perfect. I've read it at least 3-4 times since then including a couple times in the past 5 years. It's typical ERB. If you like his stuff, you'll love this. It is not, of course, great literature. It is an action/adventure novel with everything you could want. The greatest swordsman in the land showing off his skills, love, betrayal, war, confused identities, revenge. Ov I found this book in the upstairs of a used bookstore downtown when I was about 15 or so (25 years ago), and it was absolutely perfect. I've read it at least 3-4 times since then including a couple times in the past 5 years. It's typical ERB. If you like his stuff, you'll love this. It is not, of course, great literature. It is an action/adventure novel with everything you could want. The greatest swordsman in the land showing off his skills, love, betrayal, war, confused identities, revenge. Over the years, I've very often pondered writing it as a screenplay. I have zero experience in that area, but this book is practically a movie exactly as written. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shep

    This book was entertaining, if not highly fanciful, fiction. The story presents a bizarre sort of antihero: Norman of Torn, who leaves his zorroesque mark on the heads of his vanquished enemies, who has been twisted by the teachings of a vengeful old man, and who is ultimately saved from this darkness by his love for a beautiful maiden. Some parts of the story were very far-fetched and the claim that the story is based in history is dubious. The book was far better than Burrough's first Tarzan n This book was entertaining, if not highly fanciful, fiction. The story presents a bizarre sort of antihero: Norman of Torn, who leaves his zorroesque mark on the heads of his vanquished enemies, who has been twisted by the teachings of a vengeful old man, and who is ultimately saved from this darkness by his love for a beautiful maiden. Some parts of the story were very far-fetched and the claim that the story is based in history is dubious. The book was far better than Burrough's first Tarzan novel, however. I enjoyed this book, but that may be because it was the first fiction novel I'd read in awhile after a long semester of school textbooks.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Anderson

    Some books try to glorify a character that is the best in the world at something (best gunfighter, best swordsman, best crime-solver). The problem is that to truly become the best, a person would have to be incredibly unbalanced and hard to identify with. In this case the cause of the imbalance is not the main character's fault and the story is therefore much more plausible while still remaining accessible. I enjoyed this book because it has the "man against the world" motif that I love so much Some books try to glorify a character that is the best in the world at something (best gunfighter, best swordsman, best crime-solver). The problem is that to truly become the best, a person would have to be incredibly unbalanced and hard to identify with. In this case the cause of the imbalance is not the main character's fault and the story is therefore much more plausible while still remaining accessible. I enjoyed this book because it has the "man against the world" motif that I love so much where the main character uses his unique talents to extract himself from an impossible situation and the author really put some artistry into the story telling.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Langford

    Not as formulaic as I have found his works - this one was enjoyable. The hero is noble like so many of ERBs characters but the interesting part in the story is how the hero is born to nobility, stolen away and raised to hate the 'noble class' but still raised in 'treachery' with an understanding of chivalry and 'true' nobility and becomes 'noble' himself - a simple but interesting view of "nature vs. nurture" or that both can be true. This story just had a better 'feel' than most of his others b Not as formulaic as I have found his works - this one was enjoyable. The hero is noble like so many of ERBs characters but the interesting part in the story is how the hero is born to nobility, stolen away and raised to hate the 'noble class' but still raised in 'treachery' with an understanding of chivalry and 'true' nobility and becomes 'noble' himself - a simple but interesting view of "nature vs. nurture" or that both can be true. This story just had a better 'feel' than most of his others books. But, I can say that I did see the ending coming. Like the first Tarzan and John Carter books, I can recommend this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    The Outlaw of Torn is an enjoyable tale set in Medieval England. Imagine a shorter, faster-paced Count of Monte Cristo and you have a good idea of what to expect. My grandfather has almost every Edgar Rice Burroughs book ever written and this is the first one I bothered to pick up and read. Glad I did, although be prepared. This is written in more the classical Fantasy style, with archetypal heroes and a linear plot. Probably a 3.5 star read but this kept me well-engaged through a 5-hour plane r The Outlaw of Torn is an enjoyable tale set in Medieval England. Imagine a shorter, faster-paced Count of Monte Cristo and you have a good idea of what to expect. My grandfather has almost every Edgar Rice Burroughs book ever written and this is the first one I bothered to pick up and read. Glad I did, although be prepared. This is written in more the classical Fantasy style, with archetypal heroes and a linear plot. Probably a 3.5 star read but this kept me well-engaged through a 5-hour plane ride so I decided to round up. Go ahead and check this one out if you need an easy read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Maxfield

    From the author who brought you "Tarzan of the Apes" and "The Princess of Mars" [a.k.a. John Carter] comes a story to rival "The Princess Bride." His writing style is simple and linear. The characters and setting remind me of Robin Hood and The Scarlet Pimpernel, but don't worry: Burroughs' story is unique and stands on its own really nicely. The plot twists are elegant. The themes are obvious without being trite. The swordfighting stuns, the friendship-forging captivates. I would recommend this From the author who brought you "Tarzan of the Apes" and "The Princess of Mars" [a.k.a. John Carter] comes a story to rival "The Princess Bride." His writing style is simple and linear. The characters and setting remind me of Robin Hood and The Scarlet Pimpernel, but don't worry: Burroughs' story is unique and stands on its own really nicely. The plot twists are elegant. The themes are obvious without being trite. The swordfighting stuns, the friendship-forging captivates. I would recommend this book to anyone.

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