Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Review: The Gods of Mars

Reviewer's Note: This review has been changed from the previous review.

Having lived for 20 years on Earth, John Carter finally achieves his dream of returning back to Barsoom. But instead of waking up back in the Atmosphere Factory he ends up an unexplored part of Barsoom where he is immediately set upon by monstrous Plant Men and the Great White Apes. He then rescues a green warrior from death only to discover it is his friend Tars Tarkas and that they are both where no Barsoomian has returned from...down the River Iss and into the Valley Dor...or in Earthian terms Heaven. But instead of angels and clouds he finds that it's all a ruse first setup by the Holy Therns to trap unsuspecting travelers and then by the Black Pirates of Barsoom, men who serve Issus, the Goddess of Life Eternal, a vengeful woman without much holy about her. Its not too long before John decides to leave but he has to fight his way through two sets of armies and two not exactly to be spurned women. Oh yeah he also meets his son, Carthoris. Once clear our team makes it back home only for John to discover his beautiful Dejah Thoris, heartbroken over the loss of her son and unwilling to become the wife of Zat Arras, the Jed of Zodanga has went down the Iss. And John might not be able to save her...

As the second part of a trilogy, The Gods of Mars follows the basic setup of the middle chapter to a tee. We get new characters introduced, including Xodar the noble member of the Black Pirates who sides with John, Carthoris and Thuvia. We get rousing action scenes from the beginning. The creepy Plant Men are an interesting addition to the creature life of Barsoom. And we have a cliffhanger at the end to bring the reader back.

But looking back at the first three books as a complete trilogy I feel Gods is the weakest chapter. Part of it is that Burroughs over stuffs the book with too many characters. Having the Therns, the First Born and Zat Arras as adversaries just weighs down the book too much (it's the same problem that ultimately killed the Batman film series-too many bad guys and our hero gets left with nothing to do.) Not to say some of the characters aren't interesting-what can I say, I think Phaidor adds some heat-but it makes John Carter almost a supporting character in his own story.

Rating:*** out of 4.

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