Tarnsman of Gor

Tarnsman of Gor

by John Norman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497648753
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
Publication date: 05/13/2014
Series: Gorean Saga Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 188
Sales rank: 177,967
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

John Norman, born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1931, is the creator of the Gorean Saga, the longest-running series of adventure novels in science fiction history. Starting in December 1966 with  Tarnsman of Gor , the series was put on hold after its twenty-fifth installment,  Magicians of Gor , in 1988, when DAW refused to publish its successor,  Witness of Gor. After several unsuccessful attempts to find a trade publishing outlet, the series was brought back into print in 2001. Norman has also produced a separate science fiction series, the Telnarian Histories, plus two other fiction works ( Ghost Dance  and  Time Slave ), a nonfiction paperback ( Imaginative Sex ), and a collection of thirty short stories, entitled  Norman InvasionsThe Totems of Abydos  was published in spring 2012. 

All of Norman’s work is available both in print and as ebooks. The Internet has proven to be a fertile ground for the imagination of Norman’s ever-growing fan base, and at Gor Chronicles (www.gorchronicles.com), a website specially created for his tremendous fan following, one may read everything there is to know about this unique fictional culture. 

Norman is married and has three children.

Read an Excerpt

Tarnsman of Gor

The Gorean Saga: Book 1

By John Norman


Copyright © 1966 John Norman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-0101-7


A Handful of Earth

My name is Tarl Cabot. The name is supposed to have been shortened in the fifteenth century from the Italian surname Caboto. As far as I know, however, I have no connection with the Venetian explorer who carried the banner of Henry VII to the New World. Such a connection seems unlikely for a number of reasons, among them the fact that my people were simple tradesmen of Bristol, and uniformly fair-complexioned and topped with a blaze of the most outrageous red hair. Nonetheless, such coincidences, even if they are only geographical, linger in family memory—our small challenge to the ledgers and arithmetic of an existence measured in bolts of cloth sold. I like to think there may have been a Cabot in Bristol, one of us, who watched our Italian namesake weigh anchor in the early morning of that second of May, 1497.

You may remark my first name, and I assure you that it gave me quite as much trouble as it might you, particularly during my early school years, when it occasioned almost as many contests of physical skill as my red hair. Let us say simply that it is not a common name, not common on this world of ours. It was given to me by my father, who disappeared when I was quite young. I thought him dead until I received his strange message, more than twenty years after he had vanished. My mother, whom he inquired after, had died when I was about six, somewhere about the time I entered school. Biographical details are tedious, so suffice it to say that I was a bright child, fairly large for my age, and was given a creditable upbringing by an aunt who furnished everything that a child might need, with the possible exception of love.

Surprisingly enough, I managed to gain entrance to the University of Oxford, but I shall not choose to embarrass my college by entering its somewhat too revered name in this narrative. I graduated decently, having failed to astound either myself or my tutors. Like a large number of young men, I found myself passably educated, able to parse a sentence or so in Greek, and familiar enough with the abstractions of philosophy and economics to know that I would not be likely to fit into that world to which they claimed to bear some obscure relation. I was not, however, reconciled to ending up on the shelves of my aunt's shop, along with the cloth and ribbon, and so I embarked upon a wild, but not too wild, adventure, all things considered.

Being literate and not too dull, and having read enough history to tell the Renaissance from the Industrial Revolution, I applied to several small American colleges for an instructorship in history—English history, of course. I told them I was somewhat more advanced academically than I was, and they believed me, and my tutors, in their letters of recommendation, being good fellows, were kind enough not to disabuse them of this illusion. I believe my tutors thoroughly enjoyed the situation, which they, naturally, did not officially allow me to know they understood. It was the Revolutionary War all over again. One of the colleges to which I applied, one perhaps somewhat less perceptive than the rest, a small liberal arts college for men in New Hampshire, entered into negotiations, and I had soon received what was to be my first and, I suppose, my last appointment in the academic world.

In time I assumed I would be found out, but meanwhile I had my passage to America paid and a position for at least one year. This outcome struck me as being a pleasant if perplexing state of affairs. I admit I was annoyed by the suspicion that I had been given the appointment largely on the grounds that I would be faculty exotica. Surely I had no publications, and I am confident there must have been several candidates from American universities whose credentials and capacities would have far outshone my own, except for the desiderated British accent. Yes, there would be the round of teas and the cocktail and supper invitations.

I liked America very much, though I was quite busy the first semester, smashing through numerous texts in an undignified manner, attempting to commit enough English history to memory to keep at least a reign or so ahead of my students. I discovered, to my dismay, that being English does not automatically qualify one as an authority on English history. Fortunately, my departmental chairman, a gentle, bespectacled man, whose speciality was American economic history, knew even less than I did, or, at least, was considerate enough to allow me to believe so.

The Christmas vacation helped greatly. I was especially counting on the time between the semesters to catch up, or, better, to lengthen my lead on the students. But after the term papers, the tests, and the grading of the first semester, I was afflicted with a rather irresistible desire to chuck the British Empire and go for a long, long walk—indeed, even a camping trip in the nearby White Mountains. I borrowed some camp gear, mostly a knapsack and a sleeping bag, from one of the few friends I had made on the faculty—an instructor also, but in the deplorable subject of physical education. He and I had fenced occasionally and had gone for infrequent walks. I sometimes wonder if he is curious about what happened to his camp gear or to Tarl Cabot. Surely the administration of the college was curious, and angry at the inconvenience of having to replace an instructor in the middle of the year, for Tarl Cabot was never heard of again on the campus of that college.

My friend in the physical education department drove me a few miles into the mountains and dropped me off. We agreed to meet again in three days at the same place. The first thing I did was check my compass, as if I knew what I was up to, and then proceeded to leave the highway well behind me. More quickly than I realized, I was alone and in the woods, climbing. Bristol, as you know, is a heavily urbanized area, and I was not well prepared for my first encounter with nature. Surely the college, though somewhat rural, was at least one of the outworks of, say, material civilization. I was not frightened, being confident that walking steadily in any given direction would be sure to bring me to one highway or another, or some stream or another, and that it would be impossible to become lost, or at least for long. Primarily, I was exhilarated, being alone, with myself and the green pines and patches of snow.

I trudged along for the better part of two hours before I finally yielded to the weight of the pack. I ate a cold lunch and was on my way again, getting deeper into the mountains. I was pleased that I had regularly taken a turn or two around the college track.

That evening I dropped my pack near a rock platform and set about gathering some wood for a fire. I had gone a bit from my makeshift camp when I stopped, startled for a moment. Something in the darkness, to the left, lying on the ground, seemed to be glowing. It held a calm, hazy blue radiance. I put down the wood I had gathered and approached the object, more curious than anything else. It appeared to be a rectangular metal envelope, rather thin, not much larger than the normal envelope one customarily uses for correspondence. I touched it; it seemed to be hot. My hair rose on the back of my head; my eyes widened. I read, in a rather archaic English script inscribed on the envelope, two words—my name, Tarl Cabot.

It was a joke. Somehow my friend had followed me, must be hiding somewhere in the darkness. I called his name, laughing. There was no answer. I raced about in the woods a moment, shaking bushes, batting the snow from the low-hanging branches of pines. I then walked more slowly, more carefully, being quiet. I would find him!

Some fifteen minutes passed, and I was growing cold, angry. I shouted to him. I widened my search, keeping that strange metal envelope with its blue ambience the center of my movements. At last I realized he must have planted the odd object, left it for me to discover, and was probably on his way home by now or was perhaps camping somewhere nearby. I was confident he was not within earshot or he would have eventually responded. It was no longer funny, not if he was near.

I returned to the object and picked it up. It seemed to be cooler now, though I still had the distinct impression of warmth. It was a strange object. I brought it back to my camp and built my fire, against the darkness and cold. I was shivering in spite of my heavy clothing. I was sweating. My heart was beating. My breath was short. I was frightened.

Accordingly, slowly and calmly, I set about tending the fire, opened a can of chili, and set up sticks to hold the tiny cooking pot over the fire. These domestic activities slowed my pulse and succeeded in convincing me that I could be patient and was even not too much interested in the contents of the metal envelope. When the chili was heating, and not before, I turned my attention to the puzzling object. I turned it over and over in my hands and studied it by the light of the campfire. It was about twelve inches long and four inches high. It weighed, I guessed, about four ounces. The color of the metal was blue, and something of its ambience continued to characterize it, but the glow was fading. Also, the envelope no longer seemed warm to the touch. How long had it lain waiting for me in the woods? How long ago had it been placed there?

While I considered this, the glow faded abruptly. If it had faded earlier, I never would have discovered it in the woods. It was almost as if the glow had been connected with the intent of the sender, as if the glow, no longer needed, had been allowed to fade. "The message has been delivered," I said to myself, feeling a bit silly as I said it. I did not find my private joke very funny.

I looked closely at the lettering. It resembled some now outdated English script, but I knew too little about such things to hazard much of a guess at the date. Something about the lettering reminded me of that on a colonial charter, a page of which had been photocopied for an illustration in one of my books. Seventeenth century perhaps? The lettering itself seemed to be inset in the envelope, bonded in its metallic structure. I could find no seam or flap in the envelope. I tried to crease the envelope with my thumbnail, but failed.

Feeling rather foolish, I took out the can opener I had used on the chili can and attempted to force the metal point through the envelope. Light as the envelope seemed to be, it resisted the point as if I were trying to open an anvil. I leaned on the can opener with both arms, pressing down with all my weight. The point of the can opener bent into a right angle, but the envelope had not been scratched.

I handled the envelope carefully, puzzled, trying to determine if it might be opened. There was a small circle on the back of the envelope, and in the circle seemed to be the print of a thumb. I wiped it on my sleeve, but it did not disappear. The other prints on the envelope, from my fingers, wiped away immediately. As well as I could, I scrutinized the print in the circle. It, too, like the lettering, seemed a part of the metal, yet its ridges and lineaments were exceedingly delicate.

At last I was confident that it was a part of the envelope. I pressed it with my finger; nothing happened. Tired of this strange business, I set the envelope aside and turned my attention to the chili, which was now bubbling over the small campfire. After I had eaten, I removed my boots and coat and crawled into the sleeping bag.

I lay there beside the dying fire, looking up at the branch-lined sky and the mineral glory of the unconscious universe. I lay awake for a long time, feeling alone, yet not alone, as one sometimes does in the wilderness, feeling as if one were the only living object on the planet and as if the closest things to one—one's fate and destiny perhaps—lay outside our small world, somewhere in the remote, alien pastures of the stars.

A thought struck me with sudden swiftness, and I was afraid, but I knew what I must do. The matter of the envelope was not a hoax, not a trick. Somewhere, deep in whatever I am, I knew that and had known it from the beginning. Almost as if dreaming, yet with vivid clarity, I inched partly out of my sleeping bag. I rolled over and threw some wood on the fire and reached for the envelope. Sitting in the sleeping bag, I waited for the fire to rise a bit. Then I carefully placed my right thumb on the impression in the envelope, pressing down firmly. It answered to my touch, as I had expected it to, as I had feared it would. Perhaps only one man could open that envelope—he whose print fitted the strange lock, he whose name was Tarl Cabot. The apparently seamless envelope crackled open, almost with the sound of cellophane.

An object fell from the envelope, a ring of red metal bearing the simple crest "C." I barely noticed it in my excitement. There was lettering on the inside of the envelope, which had opened in a manner surprisingly like a foreign air-mail letter, where the envelope serves also as stationery. The lettering was in the same script as my name on the outside of the envelope. I noticed the date and froze, my hands clenched on the metallic paper. It was dated the third of February, 1640. It was dated more than three hundred years ago, and I was reading it in the sixth decade of the twentieth century. Oddly enough, also, the day on which I was reading it was the third of February. The signature at the bottom was not in the old script, but might have been done in modern cursive English.

I had seen the signature once or twice before, on some letters my aunt had saved. I knew the signature, though I could not remember the man. It was the signature of my father, Matthew Cabot, who had disappeared when I was an infant.

I was dizzy, unsettled. It seemed my vision reeled; I couldn't move. Things grew black for a moment, but I shook myself and clenched my teeth, breathed in the sharp, cold mountain air, once, twice, three times, slowly, gathering the piercing contact of reality into my lungs, reassuring myself that I was alive, not dreaming, that I held in my hands a letter with an incredible date, delivered more than three hundred years later in the mountains of New Hampshire, written by a man who presumably, if still alive, was, as we reckon time, no more than fifty years of age—my father.

Even now I can remember the letter to the last word. I think I will carry its simple, abrupt message burned into the cells of my brain until, as it is elsewhere said, I have returned to the Cities of Dust.

The third day of February, in the Year of Our Lord 1640.

Tarl Cabot, Son:

Forgive me, but I have little choice in these matters. It has been decided. Do whatever you think is in your own best interest, but the fate is upon you, and you will not escape. I wish health to you and to your mother. Carry on your person the ring of red metal, and bring me, if you would, a handful of our green earth.

Discard this letter. It will be destroyed.

With affection,

Matthew Cabot

I read and reread the letter and had become unnaturally calm. It seemed clear to me that I was not insane, or if I was, that insanity was a state of mental clarity and comprehension quite apart from the torment that I had conceived it to be. I placed the letter in my knapsack.

What I must do was fairly obvious—make my way out of the mountains as soon as it was light. No, that might be too late. It would be mad, scrambling about in the darkness, but there seemed to be nothing else that would serve. I did not know how much time I had, but even if it was only a few hours, I might be able to reach some highway or stream or perhaps a cabin.

I checked my compass to get the bearing back to the highway. I looked uneasily about in the darkness. An owl hooted once, perhaps a hundred yards to the right. Something out there might be watching me. It was an unpleasant feeling. I pulled on my boots and coat, rolled my sleeping bag, and fixed the pack. I kicked the fire to pieces, stamping out the embers, scuffing dirt over the sparks.

Just as the fire was sputtering out, I noticed a glint in the ashes. Bending down, I retrieved the ring. It was warm from the ashes, hard, substantial—a piece of reality. It was there. I dropped it into the pocket of my coat and started off on my compass-bearing, trying to make my way back to the highway.


Excerpted from Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman. Copyright © 1966 John Norman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Tarnsman of Gor 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stop trolling all of you. This is a fantasy series the takes place where the mindset IS NOT LIKE OURS! It is an excelent series and I dare you to make a better one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far I have read the first 4 books in the series. It is pretty good from a fantasy novel perspective. However, I think I am understanding what a friend of mine once said about the books written by a female author that I like. He said that the dialogue/actions of the men in the books were unbelievable, in terms of a man would never do or say those things, a man's mind doesn't work like that. I am thinking this exact same thing in reverse, about the women in the Gor books. Overall the book is pretty good, but the dialogue of the women, in all the books, is pretty inane. I am just sitting there like, Are you serious?? And all the women are like "I love you!!" after being with the guy for 5 minutes. Not to mention the thing about "all women truly want to be slaves"... please. Lol. So if you can take it with a grain of salt and mostly overlook this serious flaw, then the books are a decent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have this in an original paperback, and it was and is clearly a fantasy written for men of the 70's who were scared crapless by the feminist regime, who needed the world of gor to make them feel good about being a man again. On occasian I still play out the gorean thing with my husband because although as a story it's poor, but it does reach something in all of us. However an e-book which is fairly cheap to publish that costs the same as a paperback only proves to show that greed is behind bringing the gor books back. I'd recommend finding a used copy instead and do not expect it to be a great read. Not literature, but pure sexual fantasy if you like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the Gor books in paperback, back in the 70's - when I was a teenage girl. It was about the same time that I was reading Stephen King and every gory horror novel I could get my hands on. Call it raging teenage hormones. Even at that age I knew I was reading trash, but it was fun trash. I still have one very worn out paperback from the series, and I admit that I dig it out of storage and read it every now and then. Put your convictions on the shelf, suspend your disbelief for a little while, park your brain in neutral, and just dive right into some simple-minded fun fantasy.
Terpsichoreus on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The first of the infamous S&M fantasy series of the world of Gor is a rather unremarkable adventure book. Taking cue from Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, Norman gives us an Earthling sent to survive on savage, alien world. However, instead of John Carter, a cowboy and Civil War vet right out of Wister's 'The Virginian', Norman's hero is a mild-mannered British professor. His transformation from comical figure to unrivaled warrior is swift and inexplicable. Such a man might learn to become a soldier, to wield a sword, but that isn't good enough for Norman. His hero becomes literally the greatest soldier and swordsmen on his new, savage home.However, Norman does not want us to question his plot or characters. He gives us a wild, melodramatic, unbelievable adventure without a hint of lightheartedness. Indeed, Norman seems to take every moment seriously, and with a swaggering machismo that dares us to laugh at it.When Terb son of Terb (trained by Terb the viking to be a Terb-rider) defeats a dozen armed men with his arms literally tied behind his back, we are supposed to soberly marvel at his manliness. We are also meant to maintain this awe through a whole book-full of similarly unbelievable battles. This isn't to say that the fight scenes aren't fun, just that the author doesn't think they are.There is also the training of the giant death-birds that the protagonist learns to ride. The birds are vicious and prone to attacking and even eating their riders. To combat this, the riders use handheld tasers to discipline the birds. There are two problems with this.Firstly, we can imagine that training these birds would be akin to training a large predator, that is, a predator large enough to consider us prey. We can train cats and dogs pretty easily, since they don't consider us to be 'on the menu', but training these birds would be more like training a tiger. This can be done, but its an imprecise science, as even after years of familiarity and training, even a hand-raised tiger can turn on its handler.Beyond that, we don't train them by taser, since this would tend to provoke a fear reaction in the animal. This means the animal is either going to run or fight you. This brings us to the second problem: these are birds.If you threaten a bird, it will just fly away from you and that's the end. Training falcons requires them to see you as the primary source of food, and this training is difficult to maintain. Even well-trained falcons will sometimes just fly off when released to hunt. This requires chasing the thing down, isolating it, and netting it. Now imagine that you're trying to chase and net a tiger through the woods.The training should have looked like a combination between how we train large predators like tigers and how we train animals which could easily escape us at any moment, like falcons. I don't require that an author do that kind of research to maintain realism, but I do require that if he hasn't done the research, he shouldn't then make some hand-waving claim about tasers. Now, back to sex slavery:The first book also only very lightly enters into the recurring theme of female sex slavery which comes to define the rest of the series. That every woman in the book is a slave at one point or another, and is helplessly in need of a man despite her strong will comes only as a minor annoyance in this book rather than an overpowering obsession.The insecurities of the author become all-too-blatant as one reads on. Firstly, Norman requires the fantastical escapism of a hero who is a simple, bookish man (with mommy issues) who becomes an unstoppable killing force (and lover) beholden to no man or god. Beyond this, he also requires a no-nonsense, manly rationalism worthy of Hemingway. Either one alone might be enjoyable, but the schizophrenic conflict between realism and hyperbole becomes a constant strain on the book's tone.The plot is also so circular and serendipitous to sometimes be painful. The constant coincidences move t
sotonohito on LibraryThing 29 days ago
I found it in a used bookstore, noticed that it was part of a long series, and thought "hmmm, it can't be too horrible if they published this many sequels". As the astute reader can tell, I was quite young at the time and hadn't realized just how many truly awful sequels are published every year.The Gor series seems to be written as erotica for 1930's era mysogynasts. There aren't even any sex scenes as payoff for reading all the turgid prose promoting the idea that women are sex slaves by their essential nature.Modern books offer better philosophy, better storytelling, and better sex. My advice is to ignore the Gor series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Science fiction. Well written fantasy novel. Very entertaining. Look forward to the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a ok book but the story at times was hard to understand and the wording was just as hard to understand. Still not a bad read overall.
sunnynurse More than 1 year ago
Wish the rest of the series was inexpensive! Would like to read the entire series straight through. Will have to get them farther apart, but well worth reading for fantasy fans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes hard to follow and the lacking in the writing department.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this
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