Having bought an omnibus of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories I decided to continue with this one, and was pleasantly surprised by how much it strays off the formula of the adventures thus far. Firstly, the protagonist isn’t John Carter, the Virginian transported to Mars, but rather his son, Carthoris and while previous installments have been narrated by the hero this is in the third person.
The story starts in Ptarth, one of Mars’ cities where Carthoris rescues Thuvia from the unwanted attentions of another city’s prince, Astok. Following this Carthoris reveals his love for her, but she tells him she is engaged to another, one of his father’s friends and allies, and that he has acted inappropriately. Carthoris leaves.
Shortly after Thuvia is kidnapped and suspicion falls on Carthoris, who sets off to Ptarth to prove his innocence, however his ship has been tampered with and he ends up in the wastes of Barsoom. Fortunately Thuvia has been brought to the same place, although she escapes her kidnappers only to be seized by the green men and stolen away.
Carthoris then sets out to rescue her, on the way discovering a lost civilization of powerful, telepathic Martians.
Meanwhile, Thuvia and Carthoris’ disappearance has pushed the planet to the brink of war. Can they figure out who’s really to blame? Will they be in time to stop the war? And does Thuvia feel the same way about Carthoris?
I quite enjoyed this book, even if it is a tad predictable. The change in style was very welcome as some of John Carter’s narration could be a bit arrogant and pompous, and it flows far better in the third person. There’s plenty of derring-do and fighting to keep you engaged, and ERB keeps it zipping along at a decent pace.
There are flaws, this is the third species of mysterious Martians that have been discovered, which seems a bit much. And Thuvia does very little other than get rescued, she’s never developed fully and aside from her looks we don’t have much sense of why Carthoris’ attraction to her is more worthy than those of the other characters.
That being said it’s a pretty enjoying adventure story and a quick read, I’d say it’s better than Warlord of Mars, and it’s nice to see a different focus and it’s nice to see ERB shake things up a bit. The only problem is that Carthoris being a native means we lose the outsider’s perspective a little, still at least we’re spared Carter blowing his own trumpet so much.
Verdict: Quite a fun adventure story, but a bit formulaic. Burroughs changes his style but a lot of it is more of the same. 6/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.