JOHN CARTER OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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The book is a collection of two short John Carter stories.

John Carter and the Giant of Mars

John Carter must battle Pew Mogel who was a protégé of Ras Thavas. He wants to conquer the world like every typical madman. He has an army of white apes that he transplanted the brains of men into. He also has created a fifty foot giant named Joog. John Carter rallies the forces of Helium and his friend Tars Tarkas to defeat the huge but slow witted Joog.

Skeleton Men of Jupiter

John Carter and Dejah Thoris are kidnapped by the Morgors. The Morgors are a race of men that rule the planet Sasoom(Jupiter). The Morgors have very tight skin which make them look like skeletons. They hope to gain information for there planned conquest of Barsoom. Carter, Dejah and some other captives escape and make it to an island still free of the Morgors.

Well the final Martian book is somewhat of a mixed bag. The Giant of Mars is actually written by Burrough’s son Jack Burroughs. It is quite obvious that Burroughs didn’t write this story. The story is also not very good.

The Skeleton Men of Jupiter on the other hand is an excellent story. Burroughs creates a whole new exciting world in Jupiter. Unfortunately he died before subsequent stories could be written and the plot is left hanging.

My final thoughts on the Martian series. I think they were the best of the worlds that Burroughs created. It really took me to an exciting world when I was a teenager. I don’t think there was a single book in the series that I didn’t enjoy.

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LLANA OF GATHOL BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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John Carter is restless and decides to explore the lost city of Horz. While flying over in his flyer he sees a man being attacked by green men. He joins the fray on the side of this lone belligerent and defeats the green warriors. He discovers after the fight the man is a blond haired member of the Orovars. The Orovars were thought to be extinct but a lost colony still survives in hiding.

The Orovars are thankful for Carter’s intervention but take him prisoner. Their laws require all strangers be put to death to preserve the Orovars secrecy. The man Carter saved Pan Dan Chee agrees to watch over Carter until his appeal and both are locked in the catacombs. There the two find a mad man that embalms people. After defeating him Carter finds his granddaughter Llana one of his victims.

Llana of Gathol had escaped after being kidnapped by Hin Abtol. Hin Abtol was a jeddak in a northern kingdom that conquered the yellow men at the north pole. He is obsessed with conquering the world and has started at Gathol. His armies besiege the kingdom and his agents succeed in capturing Llana who Abtol wants as his wife.

Carter and his two companions escape the catacombs and what follows is an epic adventure for the three. They get captured by renegade black pirates. Escape Hin Abtol’s capital and a confrontation with a race that is invisible.

The tenth book in the Martian series is another excellent story. Carter is once again the main protagonist. It uses a simple but proven formula. A damsel in distress must be saved from a deranged mad man bent on world conquest. The hero has to fight numerous men and beasts. Travel through exotic and dangerous locales to defeat the evil plan. And of course the hero gets the love of the woman. In this case Pan Dan Chee and LLana. I guess I never get tired of it.

SYNTHETIC MEN OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Dejah Thoris has been seriously injured in an accident. Only Ras Thavas the mastermind of Mars can save her. Carter with his personal guard Vor Daj set out to Thava’s compound in the Toonolian marshes. There they discover that Ras Thavas is a captive of his own creations the Homads. The Homads are synthetically cloned men that are seriously deformed. They force Thavas to build an army of Homads to conquer the world. They also force him to transplant their brains into the bodies of normal men.

Carter and Vor Daj conspire with Thavas to escape. Vor Daj convinces Thavas to transplant his brain into the body of a Hormad to spy on their captives. As a Homad named Tur-Don-Bar he falls in love with a slave girl named Janai. Fighting among the rulers separate Vor Daj from Carter and Thavas. The balance of the story involves Vor Daj’s adventures in rescuing Janai and trying to find Carter and Thavas to get his brain transplanted back into his body.

The ninth book in the Martian series is another weird adventure. A lot of weird science in this one. Still it has the classic trademarks of exotic lands, strange creatures and adventure that make this series an enjoyable read.

SWORDS OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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The city of Zodanga is a hotbed of sedition for the Helium empire. The Guild of Assassins is growing in strength and John Carter is determined to wipe them out. He disguises himself as a wandering adventurer named Vandor and heads to the city. There he meets Rapas the Ulsio(rat) and finds service in the household of Fal Sivas. He is in competition with another scientist Gar Nul to create a synthetic brain to pilot a ship to Thuria(the nearer moon of Phobos).

Gar Nul is also head of the assassin’s guild and has kidnapped Dejah Thoris. He flees to Thuria and Carter must steal his employer’s ship to pursue. On Thuria Carter is captured by a race of blue haired people that have the power to mentally project themselves invisible. To escape Carter must join forces with his adversary and a cat man. Through heroic sacrifice and betrayal Carter and his friends manage to rescue Dejah Thoris and return to Barsoom.

The eight book in the series is the first since the third that John Carter is the main protagonist. It has intrigue and a whole new world to explore. I really enjoyed it. The book showed daily Martian society and showcased the dreaded Guild of Assassins which have been hinted at in previous books as the scourge of red Martian cities.

A FIGHTING MAN OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Jason Gridley is able to establish radio contact with Mars. Ulysses Paxton is the Earthman that they find to reply. He proceeds to tell the story of Tan Hadron a Padwar in the navy of Helium.

Tan Hadron is a lowly Padwar(lieutenant) in the Helium navy. He comes from a poor but proud family. Because he has some minor family connections to royalty he gets routinely invited to parties. At one he falls madly in love with Sanoma Tora from a wealthy family. Sanoma is beautiful but incredibly vain and shallow. She wants nothing to do with a lowly Padwar.

Sanoma’s beauty does attract the attention of Tul Axtar the mad Jeddak of Jahar. Tul Axtar has grandiose plans to conquer all of Barsoom and is assembling an army. He also has developed a secret weapon on immense destructive power. His agents kidnap Sanoma for his large harem. Tan sets off the rescue Sanoma. Along the way he ends up rescuing a girl from savage green men. He finds out that Tavia has escaped from Tul Axtar’s harem and agrees to help Tan.

Tavia is sort of a tomboy. She is witty, intelligent and good with a sword. What follows is an incredible adventure. The two encounter incredible beasts, savage peoples and a mad scientist. After rescuing Sanoma Tan starts to have serious doubts of his love. Sanoma’s shallow and cowardly personality begin to get on his nerves. It is dealt a serious blow when Sanoma betrays him to save her own life. Tan Hadron finally realizes that Tavia is his true love. After defeating Tul Axtar he proclaims his love and finds out in the end that Tavia is actually a princess. Because in Burrough’s books you can’t fall in love with an ordinary woman.

The seventh book in the Martian series is one of the best since the first three books. It goes back to the sense of wonder and swashbuckling adventure that I always associate with this series. There are strange beast, exotic peoples and strange science and an equally stranger scientist. Throw in a mad ruler hell bound on conquest and you have the makings of an excellent adventure.

Tavia is actually an atypical heroine for Burroughs. Mostly the women in the stories exist to look pretty and be rescued. Tavia is witty, self-sufficient and can handle a sword. The story does have elements of an 80’s teen comedy. You have the handsome man madly in love with the popular girl. But later he discovers he really loves the awkward geeky girl that at the end is revealed to be both beautiful on the inside as well as outside. Yep Burroughs was decades ahead of his time.

THE MASTERMIND OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Ulysses Paxton is a captain in the American Expeditionary Force in 1918. During an artillery attack on the western front Ulysses body is torn in two. Instead of dying he is mysteriously transported to Mars just like John Carter. He ends up in the compound of Ras Thavas.

Ras Thavas is the most brilliant scientist on Mars. He is also completely amoral. He spends a lot of time transplanting brains from humans to animals and vise versa. He has a lucrative side business of transplanting brains from old and damaged bodies into young and health ones. One such victim is Valla Dias.

Ulysses becomes Ras Thavas’s assistant and learns his secrets. While in his employ he strikes up a friend ship with Valla Dia. The friendship soon turns to love and Ulysses vows to return her young body back to her. That body now belongs to Xaxa the Jeddara of the powerful city of Phundahl. Now Ulysses must escape from Ras Thavas, infiltrate Phundahl and bring back Xaxa alive to perform the surgery.

The sixth book in the Martian series is another exciting book. It has excitement, romance and adventure that you would expect in a Burrough’s story.

THE CHESSMEN OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Tara the daughter of John Carter and Dejah Thoris is in a tantrum. She has been angered by Gahan the Jed of Gathol at her fathers party and decides to take a ride in her flyer. Soon after she takes off a large storm appears and blows her flyer to an unknown land. The land is ruled by the Kaldanes. The Kaldanes are heads without bodies. They use the Rykors which are bodies without heads in a symbiotic relationship.

Gahan meanwhile decides to set out after Tara. He dresses as a landless soldier of fortune and the storm that took Tara also deposits him in their land. After rescuing Tara with the help of Ghek the three get captured by the city of Manator. Tara like the beautiful women in all Burrough’s books has to put up with the unwanted attentions of the Jeddak of Manator.

Gahan is sentenced to fight in the city’s version of Jetan or Martian chess. Only this game of Jetan is played with real people in fights to the death. Gahan eventually escapes and rescues Tara from marriage and wins the fair Tara’s love.

The Fifth book in the Martian series is another exciting adventure. It has the trademark weird creatures and mysterious, exotic civilizations. I was a bit confused by Tara not recognizing Gahan when she just met him. Seemed just a little too farfetched to suspend disbelief. Otherwise it was a real exciting story.

Burroughs at the end included instructions to play Jetan. I thought it sounded like a fun game. Wikipedia has that a prisoner in Leavenworth in 1922 made a set and the game proved popular with the inmates.