The Land That Time Forgot
Caspak, books 1-3
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Stranded at sea, Bowen Tyler and a mixed crew find themselves on the island Caprona, where they encounter dinosaurs and humans at various stages of evolution.
I read this as a single collection, but it’s actually three books that are closely connected: The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, and Out of the Abyss. These stories have been around for a long time and, although I enjoyed them, they definitely show their age. Each book tells the tale of a strong, capable man adventuring through a dangerous land during war time and having a beautiful, female love interest.
Some of the things our main characters were doing felt a little too impressive, but the author tries to justify their abilities as best he can. Given the fact that it’s a made up land with beings that have never existed together, I found it easy to be forgiving. There weren’t as many dinosaurs as I had expected, the story definitely places more focus on the evolution of humans than anything else. It’s part war story, part jungle adventure, part bizarre sci-fi.
The Land That Time Forgot – The series begins as a war story. Bowen Tyler, our hero for the first book, is involved in a series of encounters with British and German ships. Eventually, he and a small group of British allies find themselves aboard a German sub where tensions are high and sabotages are likely. In their struggles to find allies while in a German vessel, the mixed group find themselves stranded on a mysterious island that they identify as Caprona, also called Caspak. There, both crews agree to a truce while they attempt to escape the island. They form a base which they call Fort Dinosaur and encounter prehistoric creatures and unusual humans.
The People That Time Forgot – In the second book, Tom Billings learns of Tyler’s trouble and becomes part of the rescue effort. He finds himself alone on Caprona where he meets a woman called Ajor. They help one another along the way, attempting to each return to their own people. We learn a lot more about the people who live on the island, the way they live, and how they evolve throughout this story.
Out of the Abyss – In the third book, we return to a member of the original crew, Bradley. He disappeared in the first book after Fort Dinosaur was established and this book shows us what happened to him. It shows us another group of unusually evolved humans, and we get to find out what happened to everyone else at Fort Dinosaur after Tyler was separated from them. It wraps up some things that were left open in the first book, but also ends at the same point as the second book, so it ties the whole series together nicely.
I find stories where a small group of people become lost in a land of dinosaurs and humans to be nostalgic. I find it’s rare to come across a modern version of this trope, but I love all the old stories like this. They’re always dated in a perfectly cheesy way. The Caspak Trilogy is a product of it’s time but, if you can accept that it’s 100 years old, I think it’s worth checking out.