John Carter late of the Confederate Army is now prospecting in Arizona. In the distance he sees his partner Powell get captured by Apache. A daring rescue is too late to save his friend and Carter is chased to a cave. Instead of being captured the Apache flee in terror and Carter starts to feel weak and collapse. A force rips his body in two and he is propelled to the planet Mars.

Mars or Barsoom as its inhabitants call it is a dying planet. It’s oceans are dried up and the atmosphere is maintained by an artificial air factory. Carter is captured by the Tharks a fierce tribe of green men that roam the dead sea bottoms. Because of his ability to jump high due to the lesser gravity he is kept a captive for their amusement.

One day a fleet of airships is ambushed and the Tharks take a beautiful woman captive. Dejah Thoris is a princess of Helium one of the red men’s greatest nations. What follows is the love story between John Carter and Dejah Thoris. The two escape the Tharks and get separated. Carter finds Dejah a captive of her enemies the Zodangans. Forced to agree to a marriage with Zodanga’s prince,Carter unites the Tharks and Helium in an attack on Zodanga. Carter marries Dejah but at the end has to go to the air factory when it fails. At the last moment he is able to restart the plant and passes out. He wakes up back in Arizona and wonders if he succeeded in saving Barsoom.

This is the first book Burroughs ever wrote. The Martian stories are his best work. It is unabashed adventure and romance. There is something appealing about this race that exists for nothing but war and adventure. The epic dead landscape populated by fierce creatures and savage green hordes. As I stay locked in a cubicle the size and shape of a coffin this world appeals to me more than when I was a teenager. This book was the start of a great adventure.

Two years ago a movie was finally released adopting this book. While it had its faults I kind of liked it.

A cheap knockoff was made by the Asylum.


  1. I loved ERB’s Mars books. I agree they were his best work. That said, I was horribly disappointed in the 2012 movie. For 30 years I was hoping they’d do a true, faithful adaptation of one of these books, and once they did I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. The film was limp and lifeless and had none of the crackly buzz or wonder of the book. It was another bad Hollywood thing featuring knobby CGI monsters. Huge missed opportunity. Anyway, I look forward to reviews of the other Barsoom books, I hope you do the whole series!

    • You’re not alone in not liking the movie. I do agree that the green men were real goofy and not fearsome as they should be.
      I have read all of Burrough’s books last year and plan to get to them all.

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