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The Primeval Quartet: The Mad King; Barney Custer of Beatrice; The Eternal Lover; Sweetheart Primeval [MultiFormat]
eBook by Edgar Rice Burroughs

eBook Category: Romance/Fantasy
eBook Description: The Complete Adventures of Burroughs' Custer Family! For the first time ever, the four parts of Edgar Rice Burroughs great saga of brother and sister, Barney and Victoria Custer, and their strange romantic fates are published in one volume! Meet Barney Custer, visiting the Balkan kingdom of Lutha for a quite vacation. But then he finds himself falling in love with Lutha's princess, threatened by the monarch known as "the Mad King," and imperiled by the schemes of power-crazed plotters. Then the scene switches to John Clayton's African ranch, where Barney and Victoria are staying after his adventures in Lutha. There Victoria meets and falls in love with a man of the Stone Age who has been resurrected in the 20th century, in "The Eternal Lover." When her lover dies in this life, Victoria is thrown back in time, where after danger and peril, the two are reunited for good in "Sweetheart Primeval." Finally, "Barney Custer of Beatrice" returns to Lutha, determined to win the woman he loves, despite all the political and social barriers that stand between them. This is the first time these four novels have been published together and the first time they have published in correct chronological order. A real treat for fans of romance, adventure and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner, Published: 2005
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2005


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INTRODUCTION TO THE CUSTERS OF BEATRICE

What do these two novels have in common? After all, one is a Graustarkian adventure and the other pure fantasy. Simply put, the lead characters are brother and sister, and the stories are chronologically connected.

In the original pulp publication, THE MAD KING was split into two parts. The first, THE MAD KING, appeared in ALL-STORY WEEKLY for March 1, 1914. The second, as BARNEY CUSTER OF BEATRICE, appeared as a three part serial in the same magazine in August of 1915.

THE ETERNAL LOVER (also known as THE ETERNAL SAVAGE in paperback publication) was also split into two parts for its original pulp appearance. THE ETERNAL LOVER appeared in ALL-STORY WEEKLY the week following the publication of THE MAD KING, March 7, 1914. The second part, as SWEETHEART PRIMEVAL, appeared as a four-part serial in January and February of 1915.

In essence, what we have is one long family adventure, beginning with Barney Custer in Lutha, switching to Victoria Custer's story on Tarzan's (oh, yes!) ranch in Africa, back into the time of the Niocene, and then finishing up Barney's tale in Lutha.

This is the first time the set has been published together in correct chronological order. We hope you enjoy it!

D. E. Cunningham

* * * *
THE MAD KING
* * * *
PART I
LUTHA
* * * *
CHAPTER I. A RUNAWAY HORSE

ALL LUSTADT was in an uproar. The mad king had escaped. Little knots of excited men stood upon the street corners listening to each latest rumor concerning this most absorbing occurrence. Before the palace a great crowd surged to and fro, awaiting they knew not what.

For ten years no man of them had set eyes upon the face of the boy-king who had been hastened to the grim castle of Blentz upon the death of the old king, his father.

There had been murmurings then when the lad's uncle, Peter of Blentz, had announced to the people of Lutha the sudden mental affliction which had fallen upon his nephew, and more murmurings for a time after the announcement that Peter of Blentz had been appointed Regent during the lifetime of the young King Leopold, "or until God, in His infinite mercy, shall see fit to restore to us in full mental vigor our beloved monarch."

But ten years is a long time. The boy-king had become but a vague memory to the subjects who could recall him at all.

There were many, of course, in the capital city, Lustadt, who still retained a mental picture of the handsome boy who had ridden out nearly every morning from the palace gates beside the tall, martial figure of the old king, his father, for a canter across the broad plain which lies at the foot of the mountain town of Lustadt; but even these had long since given up hope that their young king would ever ascend his throne, or even that they should see him alive again.

Peter of Blentz had not proved a good or kind ruler. Taxes had doubled during his regency. Executives and judiciary, following the example of their chief, had become tyrannical and corrupt. For ten years there had been small joy in Lutha.

There had been whispered rumors off and on that the young king was dead these many years, but not even in whispers did the men of Lutha dare voice the name of him whom they believed had caused his death. For lesser things they had seen their friends and neighbors thrown into the hitherto long-unused dungeons of the royal castle.

And now came the rumor that Leopold of Lutha had escaped the Castle of Blentz and was roaming somewhere in the wild mountains or ravines upon the opposite side of the plain of Lustadt.

Peter of Blentz was filled with rage and, possibly, fear as well.

"I tell you, Coblich," he cried, addressing his dark-visaged minister of war, there's more than coincidence in this matter. Someone has betrayed us. That he should have escaped upon the very eve of the arrival at Blentz of the new physician is most suspicious. None but you, Coblich, had knowledge of the part that Dr. Stein was destined to play in this matter," concluded Prince Peter pointedly.

Coblich looked the Regent full in the eye.

"Your highness wrongs not only my loyalty, but my intelligence," he said quietly, "by even so much as intimating that I have any guilty knowledge of Leopold's escape. With Leopold upon the throne of Lutha, where, think you, my prince, would old Coblich be?"

Peter smiled.

"You are right, Coblich," he said. "I know that you would not be such a fool; but whom, then, have we to thank?"

"The walls have ears, prince," replied Coblich, "and we have not always been as careful as we should in discussing the matter. Something may have come to the ears of old Von der Tann. I don't for a moment doubt but that he has his spies among the palace servants, or even the guard. You know the old fox has always made it a point to curry favor with the common soldiers. When he was minister of war he treated them better than he did his officers."

"It seems strange, Coblich, that so shrewd a man as you should have been unable to discover some irregularity in the political life of Prince Ludwig von der Tann before now," said the prince querulously. "He is the greatest menace to our peace and sovereignty. With Von der Tann out of the way there would be none powerful enough to question our right to the throne of Lutha--after poor Leopold passes away."

"You forget that Leopold has escaped," suggested Coblich, "and that there is no immediate prospect of his passing away."

"He must be retaken at once, Coblich!" cried Prince Peter of Blentz. "He is a dangerous maniac, and we must make this fact plain to the people--this and a thorough description of him. A handsome reward for his safe return to Blentz might not be out of the way, Coblich."

"It shall be done, your highness," replied Coblich. "And about Von der Tann? You have never spoken to me quite so--ah--er--pointedly before. He hunts a great deal in the Old Forest. It might be possible--in fact, it has happened, before--there are many accidents in hunting, are there not, your highness?"

"There are, Coblich," replied the prince, "and if Leopold is able he will make straight for the Tann, so that there may be two hunting together in a day or so, Coblich."

"I understand, your highness," replied the minister. "With your permission, I shall go at once and dispatch troops to search the forest for Leopold. Captain Maenck will command them."

"Good, Coblich! Maenck is a most intelligent and loyal officer. We must reward him well. A baronetcy, at least, if he handles this matter well," said Peter. "It might not be a bad plan to hint at as much to him, Coblich."

And so it happened that shortly thereafter Captain Ernst Maenck, in command of a troop of the Royal Horse Guards of Lutha, set out toward the Old Forest, which lies beyond the mountains that are visible upon the other side of the plain stretching out before Lustadt. At the same time other troopers rode in many directions along the highways and byways of Lutha, tacking placards upon trees and fence posts and beside the doors of every little rural post office.

The placard told of the escape of the mad king, offering a large reward for his safe return to Blentz.

It was the last paragraph especially which caused a young man, the following day in the little hamlet of Tafelberg, to whistle as he carefully read it over.

"I am glad that I am not the mad king of Lutha," he said as he paid the storekeeper for the gasoline he had just purchased and stepped into the gray roadster for whose greedy maw it was destined.

"Why, mein Herr?" asked the man.

"This notice practically gives immunity to whoever shoots down the king," replied the traveler. "Worse still, it gives such an account of the maniacal ferocity of the fugitive as to warrant anyone in shooting him on sight."

As the young man spoke the storekeeper had examined his face closely for the first time. A shrewd look came into the man's ordinarily stolid countenance. He leaned forward quite close to the other's ear.


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