Book Report: I am a Barbarian


I am a Barbarian – By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Book Report By Vincent

A book with a title like, I Am a Barbarian, which was written by the same guy who wrote the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars novels should be a sure fire hit. If there’s one thing Burroughs knows, it’s hot oily muscled up adventure. The cover features a barbarian with the required rippling muscles facing off with a tiger while a nearly nude woman clutches at his legs. How could this have gone wrong!?

Well, the title and cover are exceedingly misleading. I am a Barbarian is not the Snakes on a Plane of Conan-esque books, no it’s the tale of a Briton who was captured as a child and brought into slavery by the Romans. And instead of an interesting narrative about his plight or what he does to get his revenge on the Romans, instead it becomes the story of Caligula. You see, our hero is the slave of Caligula and he basically grows up with him. The entire novel’s narrative structure is just window dressing to tell the tale of Caligula as seen through his proud slave. While interesting, this isn’t what I signed up for at all.

If you’ve seen the movie Caligula, you’ve got your bases covered, plus you get to see a lot of titties and Malcolm McDowell portraying a lunatic, which he does oh so well.

In case you’re wondering, the scene depicted on the cover does happen in I am a Barbarian… sort of. It was pretty much the only true action scene in the entire novel. Lame! I recently read that this book was published after Burroughs death and I can see why. He would have to have committed suicide if he was alive at time of publication. There would have been no other choice for a crime like having such an awesome title and ruining it with a history lesson.

  • Lamar the Revenger

    Sounds like you needed to watch Caligula after reading it. A little Helen Mirren & (supposedly, though I can’t remember which scene) Marina Sirtis make your day…

  • Lamar the Revenger

    … complete.. (whoops finger slipped.)