Series: Chronicles of Counter-Earth #6
Published: 1971 by Del Ray
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
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John Norman’s Gor series is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s set in a world where the men are big and brave and half naked all the time, and the women are content to be sex slaves, which should offend me, but instead I find myself sucked into the story and craving more. The world of Gor values honor and glory, and beneath its outward appearance, it’s secretly ruled by a race of insectoid aliens. Basically, when I’m having a rough day, this is my go-to series of books.
Based on reviews that I’ve read, most people who stop reading the series stop with this one, and I can see why. In Raiders of Gor, the protagonist, Tarl Cabot, transforms from a noble hero to what can best be summed up as a bad rendition Hayden Christensen in the Star Wars prequels.
Tarl Cabot is on his way to the pirate city of Port Kar, but he is ambushed in the marshes and taken prisoner. He’s given the choice between death or slavery (albeit to a sexy warrior chick), and he chooses the latter. Unfortunately, that decision messes with his pride, and he feels like he violated his warrior codes by choosing to grovel rather than die. This pissed me off for so many reasons. I can deal with a fictional world where all the women are happy sex slaves, but I can’t stand Tarl Cabot being a frickin’ baby when what goes around comes around and he gets a taste of his own medicine. And yes, he escapes pretty quickly, but his experience changes him for the worst. He gets super emo, and decides that rather than following the rather interesting plotline with the Priest Kings, he’ll just say fuck it and get rich instead, and then he starts acting like a dick. Well, a more honorable dick than most of the people who rule Port Kar, but since Port Kar is basically Tortuga from Pirates of the Caribbean, that isn’t saying much. And I’m just like dude, cut it out. Let go of your stupid-ass ego and step up to the plate and save the world and all. Wanting to stay alive no matter what it takes is part of being human, and the fact that you made what you perceive to be a big mistake shouldn’t mean you can’t pick yourself back up and get on with your life.
I’m still determined to get through the whole series, but this one was rough. A big part of the appeal of the sword-and-planet genre is having heroes who are heroic, and Tarl Cabot just wasn’t cutting it this time.