As someone who enjoys modernisations of most things, this Tarzan modernisation by Andy Briggs is definitely one to catch my eye. Tarzan-The Jungle Warrior is the second in a series that started with The Greystroke Legacy. Here, we have Andy to talk about his main female character...
JANE - THE WARRIOR QUEEN
Death, books and tea - not only the title of this blog, but the three main ingredients that perfectly describe Tarzan.
In reverse order: tea. The perfect drink for an Englishman, after all Tarzan is the rightful Earl of Greystoke. What a fitting drink tea is, and one he would have consumed by the gallon in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original books.
Books - Burroughs wrote 26 Tarzan novels and a handful of other authors have been allowed to continue the adventures of the character. Now, for the first time, I have been allowed to reboot, re-launch and re-invigorate Tarzan for the 21st century.
Death - Tarzan, the pale-skinned merchant of death, has always stalked the pages, and the small and big screens, as the dispenser of final justice. To face the wrath of Tarzan is like staring the reaper in the eye sockets. There is no remorse reflected there, only the cold glimmer of vengeance.
What a guy.
As we celebrate Tarzan’s centenary, I saw the opportunity to unleash him on to a new generation of readers. The first problem I faced was how much the world around us has changed since he first leapt through the pages of The All-Story magazine. We’ve had two world wars, countries have formed and collapsed, mankind has fully developed flight (which the Wright Brothers had only cracked 9 years early) to such a degree that we could now step foot on the moon. The more I studied Tarzan’s original world, the more I realised our current one was in fact the dystopian future we all feared. We are living it.
Imagine a world where war criminals enact terrible crimes and flee into the depths of the jungle to escape justice. A world where the environment is turning against us, yet we still mindlessly hack down trees because money has become king (money which is made from non-precious metals and woven linen, items of near zero-value). A world were we mercilessly slay animals because we believe in medicines that don’t work, and think disease-riddled meat is a delicacy - or a place where the rich can have any innocent endangered animal as a pet if they wish. It’s a stark world. And it’s the one around us at this very moment.
The first book, THE GREYSTOKE LEGACY, Jane Porter is thrust into the dark heart of the Congo, armed with the trapping of civilisation. Very swiftly she discovers that everything we rely on, mobile phones for example, are quite useless. Our civilisation has stripped away any skills we possessed to cope in the wild. Because for every apocalypse that bears down on us, the themes of mankind surviving against the elements doesn’t change and, even in the depths of the rainforest, survival comes down to tooth and claw.
In order to survive such and environment, Jane Porter had to change from the fragile, spoilt girl she was in Burroughs’ original works, to a more contemporary figure. A girl who could kick-butt with the best of them. I wanted my Jane to be the type of girl who could survive not only the jungle, but a post-apocalyptic zombie attack, should there be one. In the Greystoke Legacy, she is just finding her feet, finding her independence. I didn’t want her to be swooning over Robbie Canler, no matter how chiselled and good looking he is. Jane is a girl with a mind of her own and she is not going to follow convention!
By the time my new book, TARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR, begins, Jane has become proactive and determined. While she has been awed by Tarzan’s skills and raw power, she now knows how he thinks and proves herself as an indispensible ally who Tarzan must rely on as he ventures out of the rainforests and into unfamiliar lands...
Through this line of thinking, I discovered that Tarzan was a more relevant character now than he ever was a hundred years ago. The world has changed, but for the better? That’s an interesting debate. However, where Tarzan has become a role model for the ultimate hero, the eco-warrior, so should Jane now take her place as his equal. A Jungle Warrior in her own right.