Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Review: The Warlord of Mars

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

When we last left our gallant hero (as they say in old serials) John Carter had seen his beloved imprisoned in the Temple of the Sun, a revolving tower that no one can enter for a full year. But the treacherous former First Born Thurid had learned of a way in from the now dead Issus and strikes a deal with Matai Shang, the fallen leader of the Therns to get entrance to rescue his daughter Phaidor and reek his revenge by offering Dejah Thoris up for defilement. With that John spends the next 150 pages in one long chase, entering the kingdom of Kaol and meeting both its ruler Kulan Tith and Thuvian Dihn, the leader of Ptarth and Thuvia's father before ending the chase in the cold outpost of Okar where their vicious ruler Salensus Oll also plans for John's defeat. Will our hero win the day, rescue his princess and defeat the forces of evil?

I know for some fans of the series The Warlord of Mars is a weak entry in the series. But for me Burroughs really rips this one out of the park. Not having to spend time establishing the characters or locations the story starts fast and keeps moving. The action scenes in this one are top-notch-especially the sword fight between John and Okarian Solon near the end. It also keeps John's focus on one thing only-the rescue of Dejah Thoris. No destroying whole cities or bringing down false idols or prophets.

Not to say its perfect-in fact one of the most notable aspects seems to be Matai Shang's cowardice which makes him a rather weak villain in the overall scheme and makes you wonder why Andrew Stanton has decided to rewrite him as the major villain of the upcoming film (and hoped for trilogy). It's probably the one spot where Burroughs could have improved (even though I don't think shape shifting is an improvement.) I also lost count of how many times John is captured because Thurid pulls off his disguise.

In the end though it is still a rousing conclusion. If Burroughs had never went any further this book would have been a satisfying conclusion. I know some fans prefer the first two but for this reviewer I'll take Warlord over Gods of Mars any day. Rating: **** out of 4.

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