Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

          John Carter #1

          A Princess of Mars is the first book in a science fiction series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was originally published in 1917. I added this book to my to-be-read list when it was referenced in a novel I was reading. (I don't remember which one off hand.) This was not the first time I had encountered such a reference. One of my favorite authors is Robert Heinlein, and he makes frequent reference to the Barsoom novels -and the Oz books by L Frank Baum- none of which I'd read. So, in order to have a better grasp of the context of more modern novels, I decided to take in some of these classics.

          John Carter is a Civil War veteran who heads West after the war to try his hand at prospecting. He and his business partner are quite successful at it, and soon determine they require better equipment for their mine. His partner takes off one morning to acquire the equipment, and many hours later, John Carter is watching the tiny dot of his pony disappear over the most distant rise he can see.  As he turns to go back to work, he sees several other tiny dots appear and follow his partner. Indians!

          Knowing there is really nothing he can do to help, John Carter gets on his horse and rides frantically after the group. He does eventually catch up, but it is too late. His partner’s arrow riddled body lays in the middle of an Indian encampment, dead. John is filled with grief and fury and rides into the camp, grabs the body and rides away. The Indians give chase, and John eventually finds himself trapped in a small cave. There, something inexplicable happens and he finds himself transported from Arizona to Mars! And, here is where the story really gets started.

          Carter finds himself in a strange landscape with much less gravity than he is accustomed to on Earth. Before long, he encounters a race of savage, large green people. His fighting skills come in handy among them, as well as his “supermartian” strength.  He quickly becomes a chieftain among these people through combat.

          As he is settling into his new life among the green Martians, a group of flying boats appear and are immediately attacked by the green Martians. At this point, Carter discovers there are also red Martians who are much more human-like. One of the flying boats is carrying the princess Dejah Thoris, the most beautiful woman Carter has ever seen.  She is taken prisoner by the green Martians and held while they decide whether to kill her or hold her for ransom.

          Carter helps her escape and has many adventures while returning her to her people. He and Dejah Thoris fall in love, and he becomes a prince among the red Martians when they marry.

          After ten years on Mars, at atmospheric tragedy occurs, killing most, if not all, the population.  Carter breathes his last on Mars, and awakes in the cave in Arizona.

          This was a fun book to read. The language and technological concepts were old-fashioned, but not distractingly so. Apparently, the other ten books in the series detail John Carters further exploits during the ten years he remains on Mars.  I think I’ll add them to the T-B-R list.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from fellow readers! Please let me know what you thought of this book and my comments on it. Thanks!