Review of “The Barsoom Series” Book II: “The Gods of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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The legendary hero John Carter of Virginia has returned to Mars after what seems like an eternity away from his beloved princess Dejah Thoris. Upon his return, he finds his old comrade, Thark chieftain Tars Tarkas, and they both uncover that the religion that the whole of Mars embraces is a lie; a total falsehood perpetuated by the elite races of the Therns and the Firstborn  to drive the “lesser races” into subjugation and death. With a fire of indignation in his heart, Carter, the former Prince of Helium, sets out to set things to rights again…..

I was completely awed by this book! It is an absolute masterwork of pulp science fiction. This is the book by which all sword and planet/planetary romance-style science fiction should by judged. Let me be completely honest here; going in I did not know what to expect. The only other book I had read in Burrough’s “Barsoom Series” was “A Princess of Mars,” the first installment, and it honestly left me rather disappointed and underwhelmed. Couple that with the somewhat-unfaithful film Disney made based off of it entitled “John Carter of Mars” and I really was reluctant to return to this series. But the more I talked with my fellow sword and sorcery fantasy enthusiasts online, the more I was drawn back to the genre of planetary romance/sword and planet science fiction, which practically all started from this series. So I decided to give it another swing, and damn was I glad I did!
Everything is amped-up in this sequel to “A Princess of Mars. ” It’s like ol’ Mr. Burroughs took the literary knob and turned it up all the way to 11. The swashbuckling/battle scenes are some of the most breathtaking I’ve seen in science fiction or fantasy. Imagine the Errol Flynn and Pirates of the Carribean films only with airships involved and you’ll get the idea. It’s clear to see why Edgar Rice Burroughs was such a big influence on sword and sorcery grand master Robert E. Howard. The writing is absolute pulse-pounding blood-and-thunder prose.
The locales are beautiful, exotic, and breathtaking; mountains made of gold and gemstones, strange and opulent cyclopean temples, elaborate ancient cities in the subterranean depths, skies filled with the roar of cannons from massive battle fleets of airships.
The characters are captivating and outstanding. The heroes are honorable and noble. The villains are despicable, evil and loathsome. Yes, I like shades of gray in the stories I read too, but sometimes it’s fun to go back to the old black and white worlds once in awhile.
This book should be on every science-fiction/fantasy lovers bookshelf, and probably the rest of the Barsoom Series as well. It’s just that good, ladies and gents!

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