Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: Swords of Mars


Reviewer's Note: This review hasn't been changed much.

The Warlord returns back to action...

After a brief visit to his favorite Earth bound nephew, John Carter relates his attempts to eliminate assassination on Barsoom. To do this he takes on the disguise of Vandor and heads to Zodanga. There he meets Rapas The Ulsio (or Rat to us Jarsoomians) and his boss Fal Sivas. Sivas immediately hires John to be his bodyguard and wipe out Gar Nal, a rival scientist who is being protected by Ur Jan, leader of the assassin guild. Both scientists are developing their own crafts that can leave the planet and visit other worlds. But it isn't too long before John Carter has to take Sivas' craft to stop Ur Jan and Gar Nal who are heading to the moon Thuria...with Dejah Thoris as their unwilling passenger. Once there though, everyone discovers an invisible threat...

It has been a long time since I had read Swords of Mars so I had little memory of the actual plot. And for good reason. Probably the best thing was the return of John Carter after be nothing more than a supporting character in the previous 4 novels. The first part as he infiltrates Sivas' organization and his attempts to end the assassins' guild are the best as it shows some of the street life of Barsoom. I also liked the character of Zanda, a slave girl owned by Fal Sivas that devotes herself to John Carter, even though she has a secret hate for the Warlord himself.

But that's not to say Swords of Mars is perfect. In fact this one starts the downward trend that the next two books would continue. The major problem is despite the change of location on Thuria, it's the same plot again-John Carter has to rescue Dejah Thoris from a fate worse than death. Also Sivas and his rival Gar Nal come across as poor imitations of Ras Thavas but lacks Thavas' appeal and aren't memorable once the final page is turned.

In the end it's a fun novel but compared to the earlier entries leaves the reader wanting a more substantial adventure for John Carter's return to leading man. Rating: **1/2 out of 4.

No comments: