“King of the Jungle” was a slower-paced origin story explaining that Ki-Gor was brought to the African jungles as a young boy by his Scottish missionary father. Unfortunately, his father was killed by a tribe of natives and the Ki-Gor grew into manhood by surviving in the jungle. A woman named Helene crashed her plane in the jungle, so Ki-Gor comes to her aid and the two become friends.
“And the Stolen Empire” is a much different story, heavy on action and heroics while speeding by a rapid pace. While clearly a Tarzan imposter, that doesn’t necessarily mean this story was inferior. I loved it just as much as the Tarzan novels I’ve read.
In the story, Ki-Gor and Helene are taken captive by a white dictator named Julio. Through a variety of criminal empires, Julio has amassed a great deal of wealth and power. In expanding his business operations, the crime-lord created a huge African military complex aptly called Africopolis. From this central point, Julio and his fanatics can conquer huge swaths of territory while strongarming numerous tribes to join his growing army.
Like an Edgar Rice Burroughs page-turner, the action centers around catch and rescue as both Ki-Gor and Helene are captured twice by Julio’s military might, both times escaping into the jungle to find support. Their allies arrive in the form of hundreds of chimpanzees led by an Egyptian who established a secret paradise in Africa known as Memphre. It all sounds rather confusing, but ultimately it is two factions – one peaceful in Memphre and another more hostile and savage in Africopolis.
There’s not much more a pulp fan can ask for as the heroes (Helene every bit the hero as Ki-Gor) are thrust into lightning-quick adventures in rugged mountain fighting, firefights, prison breaks, and animal attacks. I love that Helene shows off her shooting skills with the Lee-Endfield, creating an enjoyable dynamic duo. Ki-Gor’s physical fighting prowess is complimented well with the more modern efficiencies of Helene’s sniper attack. The addition of the chimpanzee army was a lot of fun, as well as the mystery surrounding the hidden jungle city of Memphre. In some ways it reminded me of Tarzan discovering Opal.
As if I needed more motivation in devouring these Ki-Gor stories, “And the Stolen Empire” just launched me into the realms of Ki-Gor superfan mania. I can’t wait to jump into the next installment, “Ki-Gor and the Giant Gorilla-Men”!
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