Posts Tagged ‘John Carter of Mars Series’

This week I completed the last four books in the John Carter of Mars series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The books are titled:  “Swords Of Mars” (#8) (1934©);  “Synthetic Men Of Mars” (#9) (1939©);  “Llana Of Gathol” (#10) (1948©) – originally published in four novelettes in 1941;  and, “John Carter Of Mars” (#11) (1964©) – published posthumously.
As mentioned in previous blogs, this was a series recommended to me by an Army roommate, way back in the mid-1970’s, which I’ve just gotten around to reading.  I read the first one back then, but never got around to the rest.  About two years ago, I looked at them and said to myself, “Enough already, just read them…”  I re-read the first and burrowed (pun intended) through the next four.  I then got bored and put the rest aside, until last year when I read number six.  It still didn’t catch my taste, so I again put the rest aside.  Now, with the movie coming out next month, I decided (again) to bite the bullet and complete the series.  I read number seven last week.  Now I’ve completed the rest.
In a way, it’s a strange feeling to carry a series of books around for 30-plus years (over half your lifetime) and then finally to complete reading them.  Kind of a combination of accomplishment and loss at the same time.
Here’s the full list from the series:
1)  “A Princess Of Mars” (1912©);  John Carter wakes up on Mars, meets his future spouse (Dejah Thoris) and a lifelong green Martian friend (Tars Tarkas).
2) “The Gods Of Mars” (1913©);  John Carter discovers the Gods of Mars are legends of evil men.
3) “Warlord Of Mars” (1913©);  John Carter (again) saves Dejah Thoris and ultimately becomes Warlord of Helium (and Mars).
4) “Thuvia, Maid Of Mars” (1963©);  Carthoris (John Carter’s son) must rescue his future spouse; originally published in 1916.
5) “The Chessmen Of Mars” (1922©);  The story of Tara of Helium (John Carter’s daughter) and her spouse (Gahan of Gathol).
6) “The Master Mind Of Mars” (1963©);  A second Earthling (Ulysses Paxton) comes to Mars, becomes Vad Varo and must rescue his future spouse.  Originally published in 1927.
7) “A Fighting Man Of Mars” (1930©);  Tan Hadron of Hastor meets and saves his spouse, a slave girl who is actually a princess.
8) “Swords Of Mars” (1935©);  John Carter must save Dejah Thors (yet again), but at least he’s back to being a main character…
9) “Synthetic Men Of Mars” (1939©);  Vor Daj (one of John Carter’s lieutenants) must save his future spouse.
10) “Llana Of Gathol” (1948©);  first published in 1941 as a serial format as four separate stories; Llana (John Carter’s grand-daugther) meets and must be saved by her future spouse.
11) “John Carter Of Mars” (1964©);  two novelettes consolidated into a single book and published posthumously;  John Carter fights another “super-intelligent” synthetic man who has (in turn) created a giant synthetic man of his own;  and, the start of a new series which starts a war with the inhabitants of Jupiter.  The series is never completed due to the death of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The two works were originally published separately in 1941 and 1943 respectively.
The first three volumes make up one complete story.  They are pretty good to very good.  The middle section, volumes four through seven are so-so.  The last four are pretty good again.  Are any of them “realistic”?  No more than the “StarWars” or “Indiana Jones” movies.  Are they entertaining anyway?  Yeah, they are.  I’m very much looking forward to the movie release on 9 March 2012 of the first book.  They are supposed to make the trilogy if the first movie is a big enough hit.  Here’s to smash hits…!!!
One interesting final note:  there was approximately 30 years between the publishing of the first volume and the last one.  It is ironic that it took me a similar length of time to go from one to eleven.

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On Saturday, I completed the 7th in the John Carter of Mars (JCoM) series book:  “A Fighting Man Of Mars“, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1930©).   I’ve been carrying the series around with me since my early 20’s, and couple of years ago I decided to bite the bullet and read them.  I actually read the first book in the series way back when, but never progressed to any of the others.  I managed to read the fist six and then stalled out.  I believed the series was about John Carter.  Actually, only about half the books are.  The rest are about his son, daughter, grand-daughter and this latest, about an arbitrary low ranking officer in the Helium Army.  (Helium is the city-state on Mars over which John Carter has become Warlord.)
As I thought I’d been recording the books I’ve read on this blog, I went back to see what my other (earlier) blogs said about the series – only to find out there is only the briefest of mentions that I’ve started reading the series and have completed the first five.  I then went back to see if the same was true for any number of other books I’d read and found it was(is).  I’ve therefore decided to go back and begin reviewing other books I’ve read.  I’ll try to come up with a notation of some type to indicate which are current reads and which are prior, but I haven’t come up with anything yet.
Anyway, there is a new John Carter of Mars movie coming out on March 9th which really looks promising, so I’m going to try to complete the series before then.  I believe the movie only covers the first and second book, so I may try to re-read those, too.
For anyone not familiar with Edgar Rice Burroughs, he’s the creator of the “Tarzan of the Apes” series of books which came out in serialized fashion back in the early 1900’s.  Roughly the same time, he was producing the John Carter series (from 1910-ish to 1940-ish).  As the time predates TV and air flight – let alone spaceflight, his novels are very much science fiction.  Beyond that though they are what I would call Sci-Fi/Sword and Romance novels.  I would estimate the target audience for teens to mid-twenties (about the same as now, but you could probably throw in some younger pre-teens) and mostly male.  Women are always “virginal” and men (good-guys) are always swashbuckling and heroic.  The reverse is also true for the “bad-guys” (and gals).  The bad women are always vicious and conniving and the men are always fat, detestable, frequently ugly, and almost always willing to “take” the heroine’s “honor” – usually by force, but sometimes by manipulation.
This book (“A Fighting Man Of Mars“) follows the familiar format:  hero falls in love, love interest is kidnapped (becomes endangered), hero sets off on quest to save love interest.  Hero goes through many trials, but finally saves the love interest.  In this case, the twist is the initial love interest is undeserving and inevitably loses the hero to a more worthy love interest.  If you are intending to read this book (and are under 15 years of age) – stop reading here because I’m about to disclose the final plot twist.  The hero believes the new love interest to be a slave and on the last pages of the book, she is discovered to be a long lost (kidnapped AGAIN) princess of Helium.   And they live happily ever after…
As you can deduce from my review, the reason I stopped reading the books is they are not that interesting to me.  They are light, adventure novels with a little too much Victorian-era romance thrown in for my taste.  Will I complete the series?  Yes.  They are not bad;  they’re just not that good.  They make a nice change from any heavy reading – kind of like watching a half-hour situation comedy on regular TV after watching a documentary on PBS.
A final thought, if you were trying to get your 8-10 year old son or grandson to enjoy reading, you could do worse than reading these to him…

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