A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I read this story years ago, but over time had forgotten all about John Carter and the peoples of Mars. It was only when I saw the trailer for the film that has now been made, that I actually remembered how much I had liked the story. Thanks the Kindle, I was able to find the whole series again.
‘Princess’ is the first book in the ‘Barsoom’ series and this is the description:
When Civil War veteran Captain John Carter is incredibly transported from Earth to a strange and weird landscape on Mars, he finds that the weak gravity exponentially increases his speed and strength. Taken prisoner by Martian warriors, Carter impresses them with his remarkable fighting skills and is quickly made a high-ranking chieftain. Before long, the captain finds himself embroiled in the deadly warfare raging across the Red Planet and thrust into dark intrigues that have been polarizing the Martian races. The heroic Carter also finds dangerous romance with the divine princess Dejah Thoris, who wins his love the first moment his eyes meet hers. A Princess of Mars is the first book in the classic, best-selling John Carter of Mars science-fantasy series, written during the heyday of the pulp fiction era by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the renowned author of the immensely popular Tarzan novels, these epic, swashbuckling Red Planet tales of derring-do and dazzling romance permanently remapped the terrain of fantasy and science fiction.
The story starts on earth and after a short burst of action, John Carter, the lead character is transported to Mars. He is taken prisoner initially, but after impressing his ‘green’ captors by the strength and ability given to him by the lighter atmosphere on Mars they make him a chieftain. It is while he is with them that he meets another captive, the woman he falls in love with, Dejah Thoris, the princess of the title.
This is early science fiction which you can tell by the style and language used but it is real fantasy adventure. The writing is vibrant and moves the reader rapidly from scene to scene, each one full of action. Any hard science is glossed over; we never understand how Carter actually travels to Mars, but this is not missed, the focus instead is on the land itself and the different tribe’s interactions and their wars and disputes.
There are great descriptions of the technology used, the Martians flying ships for instance and all the varied creatures that live on Mars. I really love the beast that is set to watch over John Carter, who starts off as seemingly vicious but ends up devoted due to Carters treatment of him.
Much of the story though is about the affection of the two main characters and the misunderstandings that arise. This is normal at the best of times between men and women, but in this scenario they are made worse due to the difference in language and cultures.
This is no mushy love story though as the action is non-stop. Yes the writing maybe a bit basic at times, and there is no in depth building of characters, but it is a fun story, and the fast pace of the story if anything adds to the style and the whole enjoyment of the book. You still get a feel for the characters and can visualise them well as you are caught up with the events.
The story is not that long and ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, which is good in the true nature of the adventure story. I have not actually seen the film of this, but have heard it is not that great. Do not let put you off this story though, as its enjoyable, and well worth a read.
8 out of 10