Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Continuing my recent trend of older titles, here is another unique story, A Princess of Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs is the author of the great Tarzan stories. If you haven’t read Burroughs, you need too. For his time period, the early twentieth century, he writes remarkably well; unlike some of his contemporaries, Burroughs has well developed stories and plots. Oh, and his stories are creative and very unusual. Don’t expect the usual run of the mill stuff with Burroughs.

Having read and enjoyed Burroughs’ Tarzan stories while in highschool and college, when I came accross this lesser known title at Librivox , I decided that I had to check it out. I wasn’t dissapointed and you aren’t likely to be so either. Burroughs took some of the charm of Tarzan and set his new hero, John Carter, in a new jungle: Mars.

To start at the beginning, the story is introduced by a young man who was a friend of John Carter. This young man had known Carter before the Civil War at which time Carter had gone to fight for the Confederate States. About twenty years later, Carter returned unchanged by the years and very wealthy. In the ensuing years, John Carter became a hermit and wrote the story of his time on Mars. At the end of his life, Carter palced the young man introducing the story in charge of his estate and order him to print the story of A Princess of Mars.

When John Carter awoke on Mars, he discovered several important facts. First, he discovered that gravity was different on Mars and this enabled him to perform great feats of strength and acrobatics. Secondly, he discovered that he was not alone. Finally, he learned that most Martians are at war…. It was only his great acrobatic abilities that enabled him to survive the first few moments on Mars. From there, Carter tells the story of love, loyalty and tradgedy; his love for Dejah Thoris, the loyalty of Woola his pet Calot, and tradgedy as some fink commited an act of terrorism against the atomosphere production facilities.

Carter travels the great red planet and meets many pleasant and not-so-pleasant characters. Throughout the story, he attempts to encourage the warlike peoples of Mars to live with higher ideals and better moral characteristics. (Burroughs was obviously influenced by religious belief, but like most men of that day, he accepted evolutionary concepts with his religious understandings.)

One odd/potentially bothersome point immediately pops up with this story. That is the matter of dress, or shall we say, the lack thereof. None of the Martians wear clothing and this includes John Carter. Now, Burroughs always maintains the highest sense of propriety in his writings, except for the issue of no clothing. Carter remains the gentleman in every sense even when he falls in love. Never will you find a place where they act innapropriately. Anyway, the absurdity of this speaks for itself…. Still, I don’t see that this should be the deciding point for or against the story as it is easily a forgettable issue.

Enjoy reading (or listening to) this entertaining book.

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