This edition collects the first three books from the Barsoom series featuring John Carter's adventures on Mars. With an attractive cover, occasional illustrations within and an introduction by James P. Hogan, this is a fine, although somewhat bulky volume. Here follows my thoughts on each of the stories as I read them.A Princess of Mars
This is an epic, science-fantasy adventure as John Carter is introduced to Mars and the variety of strange creatures and civilizations that inhabit it. For some reason, I couldn't help comparing it to E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros. Here the narrator is magically transported to another world in which he finds races of warring tribes with larger than life characters, noble warriors and fiendish villans. Unlike Lessingham though, who remains an unnoticed observer to the events that unfold, John Carter becomes himself embroiled and soon finds himself at the center of world-changing events. Both these books are simply stories designed to immerse and entertain the reader. They are to be read in and off themselves, multiple layers of meaning not to be looked for.
Don't think too much about the technological flights of fancy, the incredulous plot developments nor the underdeveloped characters. Just revel in the lush landscapes, the epic story and high-octane action and you will not be disappointed.Gods of Mars
In this book, John Carter finally manages to return to Mars and desperately seeks to be reunited with his beloved whom thinks him dead. Instead he uncovers secret cults that manipulate and exploit the superstitions and religious beliefs of the other races on Mars for their evil pleasures. Our illustrious protagonist once again rips through the established orders in Barsoom like a typhoon, swashbuckling and rescuing hapless maidens on the way.
Once again we are bombarded with ludicrous pseudo scientific ideas, probability defying coincidences and John Carters's puffed up sense of self-worth as he regales us with tales of his prowess. All in all it is quite humorous which I can only assume was intentional but it's hard to know for sure. In any case, don't take it seriously and you should enjoy it.
This was another breathtaking, relentless adventure that barely lets up for a minute. Individually they are not particularly long books but they are exhausting. There is very little time left for dilly dallying and we can only hold on to the edge of our seats as we follow John Carter with his seemingly boundless energy in the pursuit of his goals.Warlord of Mars
After the cliff hanging conclusion to the last book, this book pretty much picks up where that left off. We follow Carter in a desperate pursuit of his beloved across the planet, once again tearing through tyrannies and tyrants on his way.
For some reason, John Carter seemed particularly dense and slow on the up take in this book. I found myself screaming mentally at the page for him to wise up to the plainly obvious. Entertaining as ever though, I ripped through the story in no time, finding myself laughing at what I can only assume wasn't inadvertent humour. It definitely feels tongue in cheek although it's so old that it's difficult to tell any more.
Finishing this book it feels like the story has reached a natural conclusion. Yes, one might decide to read on but it is not necessary to gain a sense of completion. As such, I think I'll leave this series here and won't seek out any of the other books that follow on. I'm sure I'll read something else by Burroughs but I think I've had my fill of John Carter!