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.

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THUVIA, MAID OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Carthoris,the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris,is madly in love with Thuvia a pricess of Ptarth. Unfortunately Thuvia is betrothed to the Jeddak of Kaol. Thuvia has also aroused the interest of Astok the prince of Dusar. Astok kidnaps Thuvia and frames Carthoris.

With war imminent among the principal nations involved, Carthoris sets out to rescue Thuvia. The quest leads him to a lost valley inhabited by an ancient race thought long extinct. The Lotharians have perfected their mental capabilities were they can conjure lifelike images. They are also without any women. Tasio the Jeddak of Lothar desires Thuvia.

Carthoris manages to escape with Thuvia. After some more adventures escaping savage green men and prince Astok the two come upon Kulan Gath’s ship. It has been downed and being overrun by green men. Carthoris’s Lotharian friend uses his mental power to conjure up an army to rescue Gath. Kulan sees that Thuvia loves Carthoris and released her from her betrothal.

The fourth book in the Barsoom series is another exciting adventure. I like that two minor characters from the previous books were given their own stories. It wasn’t as good as the first three but those did set the bar high. Its still an enjoyable book.

THE WARLORD OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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The story begins were the last book left off. John Carter finds out that the black pirate Thurid knows how to enter the chamber his wife is imprisoned in. He tracks him down and comes upon him and the leader of the Therns Matai Shang. They have freed the three women. Carter is too late to save them and gives chase.

The trail ends at the north pole. Finding an entrance to the impassable barrier that surrounds the pole, Carter discovers the lost race of yellow men. He saves a yellow warrior who he finds out later is a rebel prince. With his help Carter disguises himself and enters the capital city. There he finds many red men captives including his father and grandfather in-law. The yellow men have harnessed the magnetic pole and crash ships that cross the barrier.

Carter leads a revolt and destroys the giant magnet allowing his allies to cross the barrier. It all leads to a final confrontation that reunites him with his wife and being proclaimed the Warlord of Barsoom.

The third book in the series continues seamlessly where Gods of Mars left off. It is filled with non stop action and adventure. I think the first three books in the Martian series is the best that Burroughs ever wrote.

THE GODS OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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It has been 10 years since John Carter was transported back to Earth from the last book. He finally figures out how to transport himself back to Mars. Unfortunately he ends up on the one place that no one is ever allowed to leave. The Valley Dor is the Barsoomian equivalent to heaven and were all Barsoomians make a pilgrimage when they get tired of life. Once there the penalty is death for anyone that attempts to leave.

Carter finds out soon that Dor is anything but heaven. The valley is full of vicious plant men and white apes that ambush and eat the unsuspecting pilgrims. The Therns a race of whites with blond wigs run the place. Carter saves his friend Tars Tarkas from the creatures. Together with him and a red slave girl named Thuvia, the trio escape the valley.

Carter is captured by the black pirates of Barsoom on one of their raids on the Therns. He is taken back to their secret city in the south pole. There he finds them ruled by an old hag that claims to be the goddess Issus. Issus has her slaves put to death after one year. Carter decides to escape and joins forces with a disgraced black pirate named Xodar and a mysterious red youth. The youth later turns out to be his son Carthoris.

Carter and his companions escape back to Helium. Here they face another enemy. Dejah Thoris has taken the pilgrimage to Dor. Her father and grandfather have been missing searching for Carter and Carthoris. The Zodangan jed Zat Arras is in charge and wants revenge for Carter’s sacking of Zodanga. He has Carter tried for heresy and sentenced to death.

Carter is forced to flee with his loyal followers and assault the Therns and pirates in a climactic confrontation with Zat Arras following behind. He is too late to rescue Dejah. Issus has her and two other women that love Carter, Thuvia and a Thern named Phaidor imprisoned in a chamber that won’t open for a year.

This has got to be Burroughs finest work. There is a lot going on. Carter goes from one adventure to another and hardly lets the reader catch his breath. The exotic locations, characters and beasts just enhance the story. It ends with a cliffhanger that demands a sequel.

A PRINCESS OF MARS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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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.