In this final installment of the Moon Trilogy Burroughs forgoes the previous opening format of having the author encounter Julien the 3rd to learn about the further adventures of the his descendants and instead jumps right into the story of Julien the 20th in the year 2430.
Taking place three hundred years after the revolution that Julien the 9th started, and told of in The Moon Men, we learn that the vile Kalkars have been pushed back to the West Coast but are still holding much of what was once California and have been for over a hundred years. Julien the 20th, known to all as The Red Hawk, has vowed that he will see the Kalkars driven into the sea once the rainy season ends or die trying. Red Hawk is the leader of fifty clans of over twenty-five thousand warriors that all kneel to the Flag of Argon which they revere as a god; they have forgotten the history behind the Flag and pretty much all history in general. Most believe the world is flat and that stories of their ancestor flying in machines and riding iron monsters on rails are just myths.
When Red Hawk’s army heads out to attack the Kalkars’ outpost that guards the mountain pass to the West he doesn’t just bring his warriors but all of the women, children and livestock. This is a do or die exodus for his people. Red Hawk is a brilliant thinker as well as great fighter and his three pronged attack plan against the Kalkars works perfectly with only one small wrinkle, when the surviving Kalkars rush en masse to break the lines and escape Red Hawk is swept along with them and eventually is captured. He is brought before the sixteenth Or-tis and is offered a peace treaty but Red Hawk refuses as he will not stand for anything less than all the Kalkars dead or driven into the sea. His blind hated of the Kalkars does not let him take into account that his people are still vastly outnumbered by the Kalkars.
It’s while captured that he encounters another prisoner who just so happens to be a descendant of the original Or-tis and who claims that he and his descendants actually hate the Kalkars just as much as the Juliens (The people of clans go by the name Julien though Red Hawk is known as The Julien) and have bred true with Americans. Red Hawk decides to trust this Or-tis and the two escape together though they are forced to split up to elude their pursuers.
It’s not until the third act of the book that a love interest raises its pretty head in the form of Bethelda a beautiful maiden Julien rescues from a group of Kalkars, this late arrival of the love interest is certainly unusual for a Burroughs adventure but as the love affair in The Moon Men was really only there to spur the hero into action and this time she is here only to bring a conclusion to the series it is staying true to form. You see she is an Or-tis as well and her hotness and love for Red Hawk will finally end the feud between the Juliens and the Or-tis people that began three hundred years ago.
The most thought-provoking element of this book is the idea that the White Man has now become a war-painted warrior race that exists on the Western plains of America while the Kalkars have taken the white man’s old role of invaders, but on an even stranger note than that turnabout is the fact that both the Juliens and the Kalkars have slaves of their own who we learn are the original Native Americans. Burroughs did have some “interesting” ideas some times but not all of them can I get behind one hundred percent. In Westerns written by Burroughs the Native Americans are treated with utmost respect so to see them turned into a slave race that is indifferent to their position in life with no care as who their particular masters are at any given time is a tad disturbing.
As a third installment to a trilogy it does at least wrap things up nicely, if rather quickly, as eventually Julien and the American blooded Otis clans team-up to drive the Kalkars into the sea and Julien the 20th settles down with Bethelda making the union between the Juliens and the Or-tis complete under the flag. Burroughs gets points for creating a fascinating dystopia where both sides of the conflict have slipped back to a more primitive time but loses points for the hero being a rather bland jerk and the books portrayal of the Native Americans.
The Red Hawk
Book Rank - 5/10
Burroughs takes an interesting look at a dystopian future where our heroes descendants have taken the part of the Plains Indians while The Moon Men are now playing the villainous White Man role. Sadly it doesn’t really work hampered mostly by a rather bland hero and a rather rushed ending.