I’ve just finished the first novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs series of novels about John Carter of Mars.
I have the edition which includes the first five novels in the series. I will be tracking down every book in the series, I loved this novel so much.
Written in 1911, it is full of adventure, non stop with every chapter. It was serialized in All Story magazine, and I can imagine people reading and waiting eagerly for the next installment.
The mechanism for John Carter, a former Confederate officer, transferring his person and consciousness to the dying planet Mars is a bit loose–perhaps more explanation comes in another book. Once he’s there, he has immense strength and can leap rather amazing distances, explained by the gravitational differences between Earth and Mars. As an ex-soldier, he is an adept fighter with a wide knowledge of weaponry who is often unbeatable.
He is captured by impossibly tall, multi-limbed Green Martians whose lives are ruled by fighting prowess and concepts of honor and tradition which allow John to prove himself and become a champion among them.
One day, a fleet of scientific vessels from far off Helium is brought down by the ever warring Tharks, and Deja’s Thoris, Princess of Helium is captured.
John is smitten on sight, and vows to find a way to free Dejah. She is wise, intelligent, and full of honor and bravery.
I loved the Thark society for all it’s barbarity. They exist in dead cities full of beautiful ornamentation. They appreciate it, but create nothing themselves. They have a scientific system of choosing traits that will be passed on to next generations. Love and romance have no place in their scheme of survival.
Characters such as Sola and Tars Tarkas stand out all the more for their willingness to be compassionate.
The thin atmosphere of Mars is maintained at a huge fortress which can only be accessed by particular thought patterns. Martians are able to read each other’s minds, but can’t read John’s. What he learns during a short respite there can save the world.
John himself is often a fine scientific observer. He marvels at all he sees and is fascinated by Mars and it’s societies just as the reader is.
While not indifferent to lives lost in the many huge battles that take place–with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, he takes it in stride.
He often prides himself on being a “Virginia gentleman”. He never gives up, and once he realizes he loves Dejah Thoris, he’ll do everything he can to free her and get her home.
I am hoping to find editions of the books with the original illustrations, the scenes and characters are so vivid, but I’d love to see more.
I also would like to know more about Edgar Rice Burroughs, who created these astonishing stories.