Many years have passed (at least on Mars) since the last time John Carter appeared on the red planet. And when he does re-appear, it is in the once spot from which none may ever leave: the Valley Dor, representative of the afterlife on Barsoom.
Carter's old friend Tars Tarkas rescues him, and the pair then rescue the slave girl Thuvia. They are eventually recaptured, and Carter must appear before Issus, self-styled goddess of Mars. She communicates via secret means to the Therns, who consider this divine revelation. Carter is imprisoned, and he encounters a young man later identified as his son Carthoris. They lead a revolt, and return to Helium, where Carter is tried for heresy. It is discovered that his wife Deeja Thoris has made the pilgimage to Dor to find him. Carter again escapes and flees to rescue his beloved.
But even that victory is bittersweet, as Deeja is once again taken, and placed in temple cage will cannot open for another full Martian year. Adding to the melodrama of the cliffhanger, the jealous Thuvia has also been captured, and the two women plunge daggers at each other as the door closes, and the novel ends. All that John Carter hears as the doors shut is one woman's death throes. But John Carter must wait a full year to discover who has died: Deeja or Thuvia.Fortunately, we can just read book #3 (The Warlord of Mars) to find out.
I enjoyed the action in this story, although there was a repetitive nature to it, a continual cycle of capture and escape, capture and escape. The new setting of the first half of the book helped, as through Carter's eyes, we were able to explore previously unknown parts of Mars.
I started this book on my Nook, but I moved to the audio version when I found it at my library. need to mention the excellent quality of William Dufris' narration. John Carter is a Virginian, a Civil War veteran, and it would have been easy for a narrator to overplay Carter's Southern heritage with a stereotypical deep South drawl. But Dufris wass able to capture the much lighter accent of the southern gentlemen, and that nuanced performance was a strength of the audio presentation.
Source: Project Gutenberg (Nook version) / public library (audio version).