"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Gods Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

1886. John Carter, forever 30, returns to Mars and again fights enemies with green Tars Tarkas and red Kantos Kan. In 'Heaven', Golden Cliffs, 'Goddess' Issus, cannibal, claims immortal divinity and supremacy of black Omeans and white Therns, to enslave and eat pilgrims - green or red. John is trapped, as is wife Dejah Thoris, son Carthoris. To stay or leave means death.


I could not resist but to continue on with this series as there is something deep and moving about it all. Firstly the way Burroughs has chosen to write this novel makes you feel as if it is a testimony of actual events, although it is a fictional work. The book opens up with John Carter standing outside of his house on the Hudson River, ten years after being catapulted back into the reality that he used to live on earth. He was thrust back so suddenly that he was unable to say goodbye to his beloved Dejah Thoris and his then unborn child. As he is overlooking the river he feels a strange sensation, a tugging at his heart and a feeling of detachment from his body, identical to the one that he experienced on that first unexpected voyage to Mars. He could think of nothing else but to give in to that urge, and had hoped that maybe he would find himself close again to his long lost love. He closes his eyes and loses himself to the urge and in what seems like seconds he is once again on his treasured Mars.

What he sees when he arrives though, is a peculiar sight: Flesh eating plant people, white ape beasts and strange new foliage that seems so out of place from what he knew of the red planet. From the minute he arrives his life is in immediate and unending danger, but he soon comes across a sight that makes all of the new sensations and sights all bearable - his truthful and faithful friend, Tars Tarkas, fighting for his own life against the plant men and white apes. He soon finds out that Tars was searching for him all this time that he had been away and kept the faith that John Carter, Prince of Helium, did not take what he, and every Barsoomian call, The Pilgrimage. Now, the Pilgrimage is when a person of Barsoom reaches the ripe and old age of 1000 years, they willingly travel to the River Iss and go to what they consider a Heaven of sorts. Those who take the pilgrimage never return and those who attempt to return would be considered a ghost because none that have died can then become alive again. When they meet again they are overwhelmed and happy to see each other, but their joy is short lived as they find themselves prisoners of a race of people that were unheard of on Barsoom by any living being at that time.

Throughout the book they fight battle after battle and succeed in impossible feats. There were instances where John Carter should not have survived by any means but the love for Dejah Thoris and the need to find his way back to her kept him alive and fighting. Now, I know that this is a lot of information but it is not even the half of what transpires in this novel. The details that Edgar Rice Burroughs was able to compile in 300 pages is unreal and impressive. For me these books are page turners, and I am not surprised that they are deemed American classics.

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