Monday, January 9, 2012

Book #3

A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Nook.

This is Edgar Rice Burroughs' first novel about John Carter, published 99 years ago. It was published the same year as his first Tarzan novel.

Civil War veteran John Carter finds a rich vein of gold, prospecting in Arizona. Evading Aoache pursuit in a cave, he is transported (or dreams he is?) to Mars (or as the natives call it, Barsoom). Carter has great strength and superhuman agility in his new low-gravity environment. Carter rises to a high position among the warlike green-skinned Thark tribe.

His tribe captures Princess Dejah of Helium, a humanoid red Martian, with whom he falls in love. Carter becomes embroiled in the political affairs of both the red and green men in his efforts to safeguard (and eventually marry) Dejah Thoris. This is where the action of the story ramps up, and the book rolls into what we think now of as an action-adventure tale.

The lead characters are well-drawn, although the lesser characters tend to be one-dimensional, and described only as they relate to Carter and his goals. The book is 100 years old, and is a first novel at that, and modenr standards of literary quality are not always accomplished.

You can see the influence of Burroughs on more modern writers, as aspects of this story resonates in fantasy, sci-fi, and comic books. It is sci-fi before sci-fi was an organized genre, fantasy before fantasy was an organized genre, and even a romance before romance was an organized genre. If it were written today, booksellers might have a hard time categorizing it. But it was definitely a fun read, and I am going to continue on with the series.

This is a public domain book, and I downloaded it to my Nook via Project Gutenberg.

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