The Gods of Mars (Barsoom #2)by Edgar Rice Burroughs Published 01 Jan 1963
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After the long exile on Earth, John Carter finally returned to his beloved Mars. But beautiful Dejah Thoris, the woman he loved, had vanished. Now he was trapped in the legendary Eden of Mars -- an Eden from which none ever escaped alive.
"The Gods of Mars (Barsoom #2)" Reviews
Rolling ochre sea bottom of long dead seas, low surrounding hills, with here and there the grim and silent cities of the dead past; great piles of mighty architecture tenanted only by age-old memories of a once powerful race, and by the great white apes of Barsoom.
If anything, Edgar Rice Burroughs is the founding father of the guilty pleasure. No, these books aren’t literary masterpieces. No, these books are not politically correct. But damn they’re fun to read!
There was a brief and futile effort of defence. Then silence as the huge, repulsive shapes covered the bodies of their victims and scores of sucking mouths fastened themselves to the flesh of their prey.
Over the top Sword and Planet fare… this is the stuff that pre-teen dreams are made of. Gods of Mars is fairly violent, even for this kind of thing, and there is a lot of “cleaving” and “crushing” filling the pages. Robert E. Howard and the other pulp writers no doubt drew a lot of inspiration from here.
What was that! A faint shuffling sounded behind me, and as I cast a hasty glance over my shoulder my blood froze in my veins for the thing I saw there.
The religious theme (or theme of deception through the abuse of religious belief) present here is interesting. This kind of thing is commonplace in Science Fiction today, but it doesn’t strike me as ERB’s style. Could be worth further investigation…
I put the thought of death out of my mind, and fell upon my antagonists with fury that those who escaped will remember to their dying day.
Burroughs did seem to rehash some plot events every now and again. There are things happening here that I could have sworn I’d also read in one of the many Tarzan novels. Typical example: door slams shut behind protagonist, plunging him in darkness… followed by maniacal laughter. The feelings of Phaidor toward John Carter, and the circumstances under which they occur, also mirror the relationship between La (of Opar) and Tarzan. To a tee.
Sparks flew as steel smote steel, and then there was the dull and sickening sound of a shoulder bone parting beneath the keen edge of my Martian sword.
As campy and old school as this is, I struggle to find it in myself to entirely dislike it. It is the product of an era, and it’s only fair that it be treated as such. Expect any number of coincidences that aid the “good guys” on their way. But hey, nobody said this was high literature. In the end, the baddies are all fodder and John Carter lives to fight another day, and another, and another. No, this isn’t a spoiler, unless you’ve been asleep under a Martian stone.
Back and forth across the room we surged, until the floor was ankle deep in blood, and dead men lay so thickly there that half the time we stood upon their bodies as we fought.
Better judgment has no place in this review. Four stars.
the further adventures of John Carter on Barsoom!
John Carter returns to Mars after a mysterious 10-year absence! he appears in the vale of the Plant Men and the White Apes! you better run, John Carter, run! uh oh, John you are running right into the clifftop lair of the dreaded White Men of Mars! and then into the subterranean lair of the dreaded Black Men of Mars! think fast and carry a big sword, John Carter!
John Carter wears an excited yet contemptuous expression while slaughtering his enemies! he's a man's man! he laughs at danger then runs right towards it! and yet he has no problem shedding tears at the thought of women and children in danger! awww!
the White Men of Mars are cannibalistic theocrats who eat the Red and Green Men! they think they are better than everyone else and so they don't mind eating "lower life forms"! jerks! apparently their genetic heritage is so fucked that the men are all frail and can't even grow hair on their heads - so they have to wear wigs! ha, ha! ugly, wimpy cannibalistic White Men! John Carter spends some time with a princess of the White Men named Phaidor, but she turns out to be a bloodthirsty bitch!
the Black Men of Mars are cannibalistic theocrats who eat the White Men and kidnap White Women to turn into slaves! they worship an old bat who calls herself the Goddess Issus! i think she is spelling that incorrectly! John Carter describes the Black Men as having features that are "handsome in the extreme" and says "their bodies are divine"! he practically swoons while gazing at the tableau of a bunch of them hanging around in nothing much except beautiful jeweled harnesses! he notes that it may seem odd for a Southerner to think that the Black Men's ebony skin "adds to rather than detracts from their marvellous beauty"! um, awkward comment!
John Carter makes two new friends! Thuvia the Red Maid, who loves him so much she wants to be his slave! and Xodor the Black Pirate who is pure awesomeness and the best character!
John Carter has a 10-year old son! his name is Cathoris! that name sounds like some kind of illness to me! yuck! bad name!
Edgar Rice Burroughs got a little giddy while writing this one! a little over-the-top! it made me snicker a bit! purple pulp prose goes POP! POP! POP! but still, it was enjoyable!
Edgar Rice Burroughs must have really hated organized religion! he makes a point of showing how the religion of the Red Men and the Green Men is an utter sham! Phaidor describes her White religion and it is totally repulsive and offensive and moronic! Xodor describes his Black religion and it is totally absurd and bizarre like out of some classic pulp scifi novel!
the depiction of the complex and layered and fascinatingly intertwined faiths of Barsoom was the best part of the novel for me! Burroughs sure had an axe to grind and i loved watching him grind it! grind, Edgar, grind!
Although I've reviewed Burroughs' series opener, A Princess of Mars, here on Goodreads, I've never reviewed this sequel; and the recent John Carter movie and resulting uptick of interest in the series suggested to me that I ought to. IMO, it has many of the same strengths (and weaknesses) of the first book, so much of what I wrote in the earlier review (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... ) would apply here too. And the first book should definitely be read before this one; you need the grasp of the characters and setting that comes from the first one to fully appreciate the sequel. Also, one of my Goodreads friends suggests that book 3 of the series, The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3), is virtually the second half of this book, and that you shouldn't read the one unless you can start the next one immediately. Of course, I've never read book 3; but from my general reading about the series in secondary sources before reading even this one, I already knew how the cliffhanger ending here is resolved. But if you don't, the advice to have book 3 handy is well taken; no spoilers here, but the cliffhanger is a MAJOR one!
Obviously, this volume begins with John Carter returning to Mars (astral projection is utilized yet again). Plenty of the author's trademark action adventure ensues. One plot development here stretches the long arm of coincidence unbelievably drastically, even for Burroughs; and there are again details to his world building that aren't particularly credible. But his strong points are in evidence as well, and some of these are particularly notable for the period in which he wrote. For one thing (both here and elsewhere in his work) Burroughs is not a sexist writer; several of his female characters are strong, proactive personalities, and his Martian women can be fighters just as much as the males. He's also not racist (or at least not nearly as racist as many of his contemporaries, if at all). Here, we encounter a couple more of the Martian races, a white and a black one. The white race is not a collectively noble and benign apex of virtuous civilization; and the black race isn't depicted as inferior in its moral and intellectual attainments to any of the other Martian races. Xodar, one of the black leaders, is definitely a strong sympathetic character. The implications of this, in 1913, are fairly obvious, and to Burroughs' credit.
Burroughs explains the origins of the Martian races in Darwinian terms; this isn't, in the context of his times, when belief in theistic evolution was more common among both Christians and non-Christians than it is now, necessarily to be regarded as an attack on Christianity. (Burroughs' own attitude to origins was probably at least compatible with that of his geologist character in the Pellucidar series, Abner Perry, who's both a Darwinist and described as a devout Christian.) Some readers might read the basic theme of this book, however, as more directly anti-Christian (since Carter discovers the pagan religion of Mars to be a sham, manipulated by a clerisy of charlatan priests and a bogus goddess for personal power and profit). But that reading, IMO, would be equally misguided; Burroughs' message doesn't come across to me as being blanket anti-religion or anti-theistic propaganda in general, nor anti-Christian in particular. The Martian cult as he depicts it has no recognizable similarities to Christianity, unless one assumes that any and all "religions" are essentially similar (and vile) just because they're religions --sort of a "Mother Teresa, Aztec human sacrifice, whatever, same thing" fallacy. There's really nothing to suggest that this is an assumption Burroughs makes, however, much less argues for. To the extent that he consciously intends to send a message for this-world application, I think he's simply warning (and validly so!) that religion CAN be used as a cloak for some people to enrich and empower themselves at other's expense, and that blind bowing to tradition and unsupported superstition aren't the smartest guides to spiritual truth. (Those are actually points the Biblical writers would have been comfortable with --and sometimes make as well.)
This is only half of the 2d book in the Barsoom series. Yes, I know the next one is called book 3, but he cliff hanger that this book leaves us on should be a shooting offense. Before starting this book, make certain you have The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3) & you carry it with you when you get close to the end of this book. If not, you will almost certainly die of massive frustration.
It's another quick, fun read by one of the masters of the action pulp era. You really should read A Princess of Mars first.
This might be my favorite book in the series. Now that Barsoom has been established, ERB can really go to town -- the creatures are scarier, the settings more exotic, the villains more villainous and we get the single biggest engagement between aerial navies in the entire series. Again, coincidence plays rather more of a role than it probably should, but the narrative moves so quickly and so forcefully that you hardly notice the creak of the rails.
John Carter returns to Mars. Rather more briskly and with less introduction.
He lands in a waste and soon finds himself in a fight -- and in a fight next to his old friend Tars Tarkas, who reveals him that this is the end of the hallowed pilgrimage Martians take at the end of their lives, this horror of a land. Pressing on through forces of white apes and plant men, they find themselves in the city of therns who habitually enslave and maltreat -- and eat -- the pilgrims. And if anyone escapes to bring back news, the Martians of the outer lands will execute them for blasphemy.
Not that they are unhindered. They are also raided by the black pirates.
His adventures involve blond wigs, a woman who can tame banths (Martian lions, so to speak), John Carter's being enslaved and receiving a slave while one, being forced to look on the "radiant beauty" of a goddess, meeting a young man and a lot of contrived coincidences before he can tell John Carter who his father is, a trial, two young women who tell him they are in love with him, to be rejected as gently as he can, and their two very different reactions to that, and much more.
Warning: this one ends on a cliff-hanger, and not a tacked on one. It's really one story with The Warlord of Mars.