Saturday, March 3, 2012

eBook Review: John Carter

A Princess of MarsThe Gods of MarsWarlord of Mars

Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, & Warlord of Mars

Product Details for A Princess of Mars

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 252 KB
  • Publisher: Public Domain Books (March 17, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RKSDS2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 

Product Details for The Gods of Mars

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 300 KB
  • Publisher: Public Domain Books (March 17, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Product Details for Warlord of Mars

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 218 KB
  • Publisher: Public Domain Books (March 17, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RKT02K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 

1. Short review: 

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, and Warlord of Mars comprise the John Carter of Mars trilogy. ERB wrote other books using Barsoom as a setting and John Carter as a character, but these were the first.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Roller coaster.
All three books are in the public domain. You can download them for free.

2.2. What I did not like:  ERB's purple prose gets to be tiresome. An example:
For six long Martian months I had haunted the vicinity of the hateful Temple of the Sun, within whose slow-revolving shaft, far beneath the surface of Mars, my princess lay entombed—but whether alive or dead I knew not. Had Phaidor's slim blade found that beloved heart? Time only would reveal the truth.
--Warlord of Mars
'I knew not'?  Who talks like this? If we believe ERB, an ex-Confederate officer talks like this.

2.3. Who I think is the audience:  Fantasy fans.

2.4. Are the books appropriate for children to read?  Yes.

2.5. On the basis of reading these books, will I buy the author's next book?  Yes. See below.

2.6. Other: In a nutshell:
In A Princess of Mars, John Carter, an ex-Confederate officer, is spirited from a cave in Arizona to Mars. He struggles to master his new-found abilities on the Red Planet. A horde of the Green Men of Mars take him prisoner. As their prisoner, he meets the incomparable Dejah Thoris, a princess of the House of Tardos Mors of the nation of Helium. John Carter falls in love with Dejah Thoris and she with him. He also befriends Tars Tarkas, a jed of the Green Men.

John Carter frees Dejah Thoris and sends her riding across the Martian desert to home. He escapes soon after and finds his way to the atmosphere plant which produces air for all of Mars. By telepathy, he senses that the plant's caretaker would kill him, so he leaves. He finds his way to Zodanga, a nation of Red Men, and from there to Helium where he is reunited with Dejah Thoris.

Disaster strikes Mars:  The caretaker of the atmosphere plant dies and no one knows how to open the portal to service the machinery. At last, John Carter recalls the key and hurries to the atmosphere plant to save all Mars. He opens the last door and sinks unconscious to the ground as men from the Navy of Helium crawl into the atmosphere plant. John Carter awakens back in the Arizona cave. He writes down his exploits, passes the manuscript to his nephew, and seeks a way to return to Dejah Thoris on Mars.

In The Gods of Mars, John Carter returns to Mars. He finds himself in the Valley of Iss. He escapes the plant men and the white apes with a Green Man who turns out to be his friend, Tars Tarkas. Together they battle the Holy Therns, the priests of the false religion of Mars. In the midst of their battle with the Holy Therns, the Black Men of Mars raid the temple and take John Carter prisoner. They descend into the depths of Omean, where the goddess Issus reigns. John Carter finds Dejah Thoris a prisoner of Issus. He escapes to Helium, but is condemned to death for blasphemy.

The execution of the sentence is stayed for a year. John Carter lays plans to rescue Dejah Thoris. Zat Arras, John Carter's enemy, locks him in chains below the palace. With help from his son, Carthoris, John Carter escapes to lead a huge fleet south to rescue Dejah Thoris. Zat Arras follows with his fleet and a huge battle ensues. John Carter boards the flagship of Zat Arras who takes 'the long plunge' rather than surrender.

The fleet of the Black Men join the battle. John Carter disengages his fleet and sails to Omean to rescue Dejah Thoris. The warriors of Helium storm the citadel of Issus. John Carter finds Dejah Thoris is confined to a cell beneath the throne of Issus that makes one revolution a year. With her are Thuvia, a princess herself and daughter of the Jeddak of Ptarth, and Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang who is the High Priest of the Holy Therns. All three women desire John Carter. Just before the view into the cell is closed by the cell's rotation, Phaidor springs at Dejah Thoris with a dagger.

In Warlord of Mars, John Carter keeps vigil over the temple beneath which is imprisoned his beloved Dejah Thoris. One night, he follows his enemy Thurid to a lake beneath the temple. Thurid knows another entrance to the cells and, in alliance with Matai Shang, releases Dejah Thoris, Thuvia, and Phaidor. John Carter pursues them to Kaol, a heretofore unmentioned city of Red Men near the equator. Kulan Tith, the jeddak of Kaol is hosting Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth and father of Thuvia. John Carter claims Phaidor is keeping Dejah Thoris and Thuvia as slaves. Kulan Tith demands that Matai Shang produce these women to answer these charges. Instead, Matai Shang flees with his captives to the North Pole.

John Carter and Thuvan Dihn pursue. At the North Pole, they split:  Thuvan Dihn goes for help and John Carter enters the city of Okar after disguising himself as a Yellow Man, one of the inhabitants of the North Pole. Here, John Carter discovers Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak, his wife's grandfather and father, held as prisoners. Thuvan Dihn returns with Carthoris leading the Helium Navy. They storm Okar. John Carter engages in numerous sword fights, including one with an man who looks to be 80 years old.

John Carter pursues Thurid, Matai Shang, and Phaidor with Dejah Thoris in tow across the snows to a flyer. As the flyer rises, John Carter leaps to grab a trailing rope. While he climbs the rope, Thurid knifes Matai Shang who takes 'the long plunge.' Thurid turns to deal with John Carter, but Phaidor knifes him. Thurid takes 'the long plunge.' Phaidor repents that she has caused so many others to suffer and to expiate her sins takes 'the long plunge.' John Carter and Dejah Thoris return to Helium where he is proclaimed the Warlord of Mars.

     The Barsoom books are cotton-candy reading. They are fun. Nothing more.
     I read these books many years ago, but out of order. Last fall, I decided to read them again, this time in order.
     All three of the original trilogy are in the public domain. You should not pay a penny to read them.

2.7. Links:
Who is John Carter? A primer (print) Larry Ketchersid's outstanding compendium of all the Barsoom books.
Another John Carter primer (video) Larry Ketchersid does it again.  All things ERB. An outstanding resource.  Includes news and clips from the upcoming movie.

2.8. Buy the books:  
A Princess of Mars
The Gods of Mars
Warlord of Mars
or download from the Gutenberg Project (scroll down to Burroughs).

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