Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter/Barsoom #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action and story
Cons: Characters could be better, John’s amazing fighting ability
The Bottom Line:
Travel back to Mars
Meet all new dangers as John
Tries to find his wife

John Carter Goes Back to Mars

What if you return to a world only to find out you hardly knew it?  That’s what happens in The Gods of Mars, the second of John Carter’s adventures on Mars, aka Barsoom, as written by Edgar Rice Burroughs almost 100 years ago.

As this book opens, it’s been 10 years since John Carter was pulled from Barsoom back to Earth, and he’s been hoping to get back to the red planet ever since to find out if his wife and child are alive.  When it finally does happen, he’s shocked with what he finds.  Instead of the landscape he’s familiar with, he’s in a lush valley with strange creatures.  But when these creatures turn out to be deadly, he suddenly realizes what a fight he’ll have to try to return to his wife.  But if he overcomes these new aliens, will he be killed anyway because of old superstition?

If you are looking for action, this book will certainly fit the bill.  It starts off strong and there is little of a chance for John to rest until the cliffhanger ending.  And you might want to have the third book ready because with that ending you will want to read it.  But it’s not action for the sake of action, everything he faces advances the story as he quests to get back to his beloved wife.  I did figure one twist to the plot out fairly early, but I was proud of myself for it, and it didn’t hamper my enjoyment overall.

The characters aren’t quite developed to the point we’re used to today.  That’s not to say I didn’t get to know them and care about them.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t care about the cliffhanger.  However, they just aren’t as deep as we find in most books today.

And speaking of which, the one thing that did bug me is John Carter’s ability to defeat an amazing number of foes time and time again.  By the end of the book, I was rolling my eyes at his amazing abilities.  This is something that would be more realistic today as well.  Still, these are minor issues since I was having fun.  Because of these fights, the book is a little more violent than I would expect from the era.

While the book may be around 100 years old, I didn’t feel it was that dated.  Yes, some of the science in the science fiction was off, but that added to the charm for me.

So if you are looking for a classic science fiction adventure, The Gods of Mars will fit the bill.

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