Tarl Cabot is an Englishman who recently moved to America to teach British History at a small US University. When he goes camping one weekend, he has no idea that his adventure is going to be more than he could ever imagine. It all starts with an unusual envelope that magically appears at Tarl's campfire. When Tarl opens it, he finds a letter from his father, whom he never knew, asking him to bring a handful of earth with him when he comes. Tarl is not sure what is going on, but he knows that he wants no part of it. He tries to run away, but soon finds himself back at his campsite where he started. Resigned to the inevitable, he boards the ship that comes for him and awakens on a hard table in some kind of tower.
His father tells him that he is on Gor, a counter-Earth that is ruled by the mysterious Priest-Kings who bring Earthlings to their planet from time to time. Tarl is quickly thrown into training to become a tarnsman, one of the world's warriors who ride the tarns - great winged birds who can be deadly to anyone, even their own riders. After several weeks of intense training, his father informs him that his mission is to travel to the city of Ar, the enemy of his father's city, and steal the home stone, or symbol of the city so that the citizens of Ar will overthrown Marlenus, the ruler of Ar. Tarl manages to do so, though in an unusual way and accidentally kidnaps one of Marlenus' daughters, Talena, who is a real shrew. Tarl manages to lose his tarn and all he has is his wits and Talena, who won't leave him. It is here that Tarl's adventure really begins as he is forced to fight his fellow men, find a way to rescue Talena, recapture his tarn who has gone feral, try to keep Marlenus from killing him, and keep the deaths down to as small a number as possible...
As a rule, I usually enjoy books where someone from earth is transported to an alternate dimension where they are called upon to accomplish some great feat or quest, but this one seemed pretty lackluster to me. I know that it is important for the reader to have some background into Gor, but I felt that that author threw it all at the reader in the first couple of chapters and then the action started. I also found the idea that women are happiest when they are slaves to a strong man to be really distasteful and cannot imagine a woman as proud and as strong willed as Talena buying into the philosophy either. Still, it was an okay read, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to others.
This report prepared by Debbie