This is the story of Carson Napier and his ill fated attempt to reach Mars. Carson is disillusioned with life and longs for adventure. So he uses his fortune to create a rocket to propel him to Mars. Unfortunately the scientists forgot to include the Moon in their calculations. Instead the rocket is thrown off course and heads the other way. It instead crashes on the planet Venus.
Here Carson finds a world of massive trees that stretch into the upper cloud cover. He finds himself the prisoner of a race of people that live in a city in these trees. The Vepajans are an advanced culture and eventually teach Carson their language and accept him into their society. The Vepajans are all that remain of a great empire. Their empire was taken over by Thorist revolutionaries and the upper class was forced to flee to their present tree island.
Carson decides to accept an apprenticeship in gathering Tarel. Tarel is the strong web of a giant spider. On his first outing with his friend Kamlot the two are captured by birdmen. They are taken to the Sofal which is a Thorist ship looking for captives. The Thorists after killing and driving off all the educated must find doctors to manufacture the serum of longevity. This serum grants near immortality and the Thorists are desperate to regain it.
Carson leads a mutiny of the prisoners and the dissatisfied crew and turns the Sofal into a pirate ship. They capture a ship with one of the oligarchs of Thora. They also free the princess of Vepaja. The customs of Vepaja demand that the princess can have no contact with anyone outside her family until she is married. When she reaches nineteen she is to be married to a noble. Carson doesn’t let a threat of death deter him from declaring his love for her.
The Ongyan Mooska conspiring with traitors and the birdmen kidnap Duare the princess during a storm. Carson is washed overboard and makes it to shore. There he save Duare from savages and must fight off approaching Thorists.
The first book in the Venus series or Amtor as its inhabitants call the planet. This is probably my favorite series after the Martian ones. It has the expected exotic civilizations, swashbuckling adventure and strange creatures. The Thorists are clearly meant to represent Communists.
Carson is my favorite Burrough’s created character. Most of Burroughs characters are somewhat wooden. Tarzan is taciturn and Carter has that smug “I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived” attitude. Carson is one that has a genuine personality. He makes jokes and in somewhat of a screw up. He’s someone I can relate to. It shows that Burroughs has grown as a writer with this series.