Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: Carson of Venus

I hope whoever is out there had a great and safe Christmas. We now go from Pandora to another shroud covered planet.

Barely escaping with their necks from the Land of the Dead and the "perfect" kingdom of Havatoo, Carson Napier and his love Duare are making their way through Amtor, trying to find safe harbor since neither can return to Vepaja following Duare's declaration of love. But it isn't too long before they find trouble. First Duare is captured by a tribe of Warrior Women of Houtomai then both find themselves caught up in a war between the kingdom of Korva and a tribe called the Zanis. When Carson makes friends within Korva he agrees to help then and is sent on a dangerous mission by Korva's acting ruler (jong) Muso into enemy territory. Of course nothing is as it seems and it isn't too long before Carson has to save Duare and himself from both treachery and the Zanis and their leader Mephis.

Written in 1938, Carson of Venus is a departure from from the previous two novels in the series. If there is one fair criticism of those two it was the choppy, episodic nature where Carson seemed to leap from one death trap to another-almost an outer space Indiana Jones. Here Burroughs has our hero go through one long adventure that has more in common with John Carter-spies, lecherous kings, finding friends and influencing people. The other notable element is Burroughs' none too veiled opinions of the Nazi Party-from the Zani anagram to the people of the kingdom saluting their ruler with hails of "Maltu Mephis" that mirrors "Heil Hitler." What makes it unique in some respects was the isolationist attitude of America at the time and the fact that many parts of the entertainment industry-from movies on down-avoided making such direct or indirect criticism of the Nazis in fear of backlash at home and from Germany itself. That makes this at least more to chew on for the reader then and now than most simple adventure novels.

Currently Carson of Venus is out of print but paperback copies can be found in the usual locations. In a few days I hope to have my thoughts on the Asylum Princess of Mars. Rating: ***1/2 out of 4.

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