Tarnsman of Gor

Тема

Аннотация: Tarl Cabot has always believed himself to be a citizen of Earth. He has no inkling that his destiny is far greater than the small planet he has inhabited for the first twenty — odd years of his life. One frosty winter night in the New England woods, he finds himself transported to the planet of Gor, also known as Counter-Earth, where everything is dramatically different from anything he has ever experienced. It emerges that Tarl is to be trained as a Tarnsman, one of the most honored positions in the rigid, caste-bound Gorean society. He is disciplined by the best teachers and warriors that Gor has to offer… but to what end? This is the first installment of John Norman's wildly popular and controversial Gor series, which has sold millions of copies.

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John Norman

(Chronicles of Counter-Earth-1)

Chapter 1

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 tune 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.

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