Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter/Barsoom #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action and adventure in fast moving story
Cons: Weaknesses of an action story (weak characters and easily overcoming overwhelming odds)
The Bottom Line:
A race across Mars
As John tries to rescue wife
Page turning action

John Carter Races to Save His Wife

I was blindly listening to the second of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom Chronicles (you know, his books set on Mars), when it suddenly ended with a major cliffhanger.  I vowed I would move on to The Warlord of Mars soon to find out what would happen next.

So why am I just now listening to it a year and a half later?  Because it took me that long to find a copy on audio I could borrow and I never could make the time in my reading schedule to sit down and read a print copy in the meantime.  However, the wait was worth it.

If you are new to the story, the good news is there is enough of a recap at the beginning of the book to fill you in on what has come before.  You won’t get all the nuances of the plot, but you’ll be able to follow the story.  I was thankful for that recap since it helped remind me of things from the second book that had become hazy.

We rejoin John Carter six months after the last book ends – six months after the cliffhanger which left him separated from his wife Dejah Thoris as she was locked in a revolving prison with two other women, one of whom has promised to kill her.  It will be another six months before the prison opens and John Carter learns what has happened during that time.

He has taken to standing watch in the shadows around the temple, and that is how he spots Thurid leaving the temple under cover of darkness.  Intrigued and concerned, he follows Thurid only to find him meeting up with Matai Shang.  Both are mortal enemies of John Carter and all that he loves.  An overheard conversation about a secret way into the prison holding Dejah Thoris and the others sparks John on a quest that will take him all over Mars in an attempt to be reunited with his beloved wife.  Will he overcome incredible odds to do so?

Like the two books that had come before, this book was filled with action.  John Carter travels from one battle and dangerous situation to another often facing overwhelming odds.  Honestly, that is one thing I roll my eyes at – he is constantly overcoming those odds with ease.  This is a book like many action movies today where you have to leave your ideas about reality behind when it comes to what John can do in a tight situation.

Also like in many action movies, the characters are thin.  They don’t get much beyond good or bad as far as character development goes.  Even John Carter, our narrator, isn’t super nuanced although he turns out better than many of the others.  Still, we know enough about them to care about the outcome of the story.

And care we do.  While I recognized the flaws, I was still pulled into the story and cheered or groaned at times.  (Really, I do seem to interact with audio books more than I do the written page, don’t I?)  The action pulled me in and a few times I found myself anxious to see just how John would get out of the latest tight spot he was in.

The audio book I listened to was narrated by William Dufris, and he did a great job with the story.  He kept just the right amount of drama in his voice without overwhelming the action or taking me out of the book.  His voices for the characters, while not super distinct, were helpful in following the dialogue.

I don’t know that I would rush back to reread this book, but I’m glad I finally got to find out what happens to John Carter in The Warlord of Mars.  It’s a fun and imaginative adventure despite its flaws.

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