Transwarp Tuesday! The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The continuing adventures of John Carter…


Left dangling by the cliffhanger ending of the first in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom Chronicles, A Princess of Mars, I had no alternative but to take up the next in the series. Would John Carter ever find a way to return to Barsoom (Mars, to you and me)? Would the people of Barsoom have survived the danger that threatened to destroy their world? Would Dejah Thoris’ egg have hatched?!?

All will be revealed in this week’s…


* * * * * * * * *

The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs


the gods of mars

There is no way to review this book without spoilers for the first, so if you intend to read the books at some point, you may want to skip this review…

Once again, we are told the story by John Carter himself, in the journals that he left in the possession of his nephew when he was last on Earth. After spending many years trying to find a way back to Mars, one night John Carter is swept back there (no explanation is given – that would spoil the fun). But rather than being returned to the city of Helium, where he hopes that his lost love Dejah Thoris and his little chicky-child will be waiting for him, he lands in a mighty forest populated by fiercely vicious creatures – the Plant Men!

Its hairless body was a strange and ghoulish blue, except for a broad band of white which encircled its protruding, single eye: an eye that was all dead white – pupil, iris, and ball. Its nose was a ragged, inflamed, circular hole in the center of its blank face; a hole that resembled more closely nothing that I could think of other than a fresh bullet wound which has not yet commenced to bleed.

From this starting point we are whirled into another frantic adventure story, filled with heroics and battles, love, loyalty and horrors of all kinds. And the greatest horror of all is the ancient goddess, Issus, obese and wrinkled (and, of course, naked – do bear in mind that everyone is naked all the time), who rules the race of the black First Born, who think of themselves as gods. This gives them the right not only to enslave any passing strangers but to…you might want to put down your bun for a moment here…eat all the red and green Martians, and they’re even willing to sample the odd Earthman should he be tender enough. But there is another race who also think themselves gods – the white Therns – who share the appetite for sautéed Martian. And for some reason all the other Martians think that this place is their version of heaven, the place they go to to die, thus delivering themselves up to the ever-peckish gods…if they make it past the Plant Men…

The Plant Men...
The Plant Men…

And by pure coincidence, who should happen along to the forest at the same time as John Carter but his old green Thark friend Tars Tarkas, and a young boy with the nature of a true warrior, and skills that he can only have inherited from his father, whose name is… well, that’s a bit of a secret actually. Much hoohah ensues, with lots of derring-do, and finally John Carter makes his way to Helium only to discover that his beloved Dejah Thoris has been captured by the First Born and is scheduled to appear on the dinner-plate of Issus in one year’s time. Will John Carter be able to get together a war fleet of airships and rescue her in time??

“And you! You shall be the meanest slave in the service of the goddess you have attempted to humiliate. Tortures and ignominies shall be heaped upon you until you grovel at my feet asking the boon of death. In my gracious generosity I shall at length grant your prayer, and from the high balcony of the Golden Cliffs I shall watch the great white apes tear you asunder.”

(A hint for travellers – when a Martian goddess says she loves you, don’t tell her about the little woman back home…)

Finally…finally…John Carter and Dejah Thoris meet as the battle rages around them. (Which is a good thing since it puts a stop to John Carter’s outrageous flirting with every woman he meets!) So brave John Carter shoves her into a side tunnel for safety while he goes off to battle a million or so of the First Born.

Just as an aside at this point, I feel I have to mention that John Carter has brought all kinds of human values with him to Mars, like love and loyalty and heroism, but unfortunately (and I think we must bear in mind here that he’s a man) it doesn’t seem to have occurred to him to bring the most important human value of all – that of wearing suitable clothing…or indeed any clothing. It’s bad enough leaving the eternal love of your life unarmed and unprotected in a tunnel, but leaving her there undressed too seems so much worse somehow. I reckon there’s a huge commercial opportunity for us Earthlings to set up Marks & Spencer franchises throughout the Martian cities – surely given a choice the Martian women would be glad of some decent thermal underwear?

Anyway, back to the battle! After numerous acts of heroism, John Carter returns for Dejah Thoris only to find that… there’s another cliffhanger ending!!! Will John Carter and Dejah Thoris ever get together again? Will he be whisked back to Earth? Will my favourite character of all, Woola the dog-like calot, ever re-appear or (gulp!) has someone eaten him?? Will I really have to read the next book in the series to find out???

Woola...four legs missing, but still smiling...
Sweet little Woola…how I worry about him…

Little Green Men rating: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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33 thoughts on “Transwarp Tuesday! The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

  1. FictionFan – This one really sounds like a ‘whisk-you-away’ sort of an adventure. I could hear the sounds of buckles being swashed as I read your post. Oh, wait, that’s pirates isn’t it? Hmm…..I suppose in a world where no-one wears clothes, no-one has buckles either… Seriously, though, there’s definitely something in a story filled with those epic battles/loves/derring-do and so on. When they’re good enough, who cares about disbelief…


    • Hehe! I never liked to inquire too closely into where they kept their swords… 😉 Yes, these are just a lot of fun, but he does the action side so well it makes up for the nonsensical bits.


  2. *laughing lots* Stellar review, FEF! Really nice. I was actually waiting for this one. 5 green men, too! And all this time, this professor was telling you that I thought John Carter was wearing clothes, and you…you didn’t believe it for a second! But, still, I think it’s quite normal (and they don’t think about it a wink) to go about Mars naked.

    Woola has a blue tongue! Will you be reading the 3rd?


    • Thanks, C-W-W – glad you enjoyed it! It’s never normal to go about naked – and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise! I hope you notice I put in one of Phaidor’s little love-speeches just for you…she really is such a sweetie!

      I know – it’s so cute! Probably, though one more review and I suspect I’ll have lost all my readers completely… Will you?


      • It’s normal on Mars, though! I mean, John didn’t think anything of it once there…don’t you think he would have been shocked otherwise? *laughs* I did notice…she was just mad. I bet she didn’t mean it!

        I think so, yes. I’ll probably have to read the whole dadblame series. (He just has blue raspberry suckers all the time.)


        • Well, but that implies that John was normal – and somehow that’s just not the word that springs to mind. Oh I think she meant it alright! I’m not sure you really understand women… *pitying face*

          Yep, me too, I reckon – won’t it be awful if the last one has a cliffhanger ending though? (*chuckling* Somehow that idea makes him seem even cuddlier…)


          • That’s a good point. *sighs* John wasn’t a normal chap. No, you know, I don’t think I do. Is there one basic rule I should know? (Besides the not-trusting one.)

            That would be awful! And he like died before he could finish! (Huff-Hum and a roar.)


            • John obviously hadn’t read the Heroes’ Guide to Outfits or he’d have packed a few skirts. Well, I ‘ve given it a great deal of thought and I’ve decided not to tell you. You’re such an outrageous flirt already that I don’t feel I should encourage you…

              You should read them all quickly first and then warn me if it does end like that. That would be the gentlemanly thing to do. *nods emphatically*


            • Humph. Did you know the Hector of the PL doesn’t wear skirts? I’m thinking about retelling The Trojan War–or, how it happened in the PL–just for you! Then you’ll see about this skirt business! *shocked face* Not sure how that would encourage a beast like me!

              But I’m not a gentleman.


            • Ooh, yes, I think you should do that! Definitely! (So…if he doesn’t wear skirts, then…what does he wear? Hmm? *tries hard not to imagine Hector with no skirt on*) True…I suppose you don’t need encouragement…

              Then it would be the heroic thing to do…


  3. You definitely have to read the next book because I want to know what happens next! I’m really enjoying your telling of this story, I totally agree with the M&S franchise opportunity and I’m sure all the women would buy the men some underpants too 😉


  4. Most of all I’m delighted that my TBR is safe. SAFE! But I’m hugely enjoying your instalments of books I have no desire to read shot through with delectable FF asides. I think this is a trend to be encouraged ‘books you have no desire to read, thrillingly and amusingly told’

    I’m sure I shall fail the exam, as you probably told us the first time, but was this written around the time of the First War – that opening extract, I’ve just finished reading yet another FWW novel written before anniversary looming, which though it doesn’t dwell too much on grisly descriptions still I’m thinking about it all.

    I have only one criticism of your above review – didn’t you miss a Darcy wet tee shirt pic moment (I realise this is clothed rather than naked, but am surprised you didn’t go for it. Maybe the Prof told you the pictures of Darcy were just too upsetting for your male readers.

    I didn’t realise though that Mars was such a paradise for naturists. Someone ought to be placing ads in naturist magazines offering holidays on Mars – no need to pack A THING!


    • Haha! Glad you’re vicariously enjoying them! Only another eight to go… *breaks down and sobs*

      Yes, I can’t remember exactly when this one was published but just before the war I think. But although this one is full of battles it’s definitely a ‘dulce est’ one – I wonder if the tone will change as the series goes on. I assume at least some of the later ones will be post-war unless he was an incredibly fast writer.

      Ah well I did do a naked Darcy last time, but the poor Professor was clearly traumatised, so it seemd unfair. And I couldn’t find a naked Rafa…

      Yes, from that perspective it would be a haven. However the constant danger of being attacked by great white apes, plant men and evil goddesses might be a bit of a downer…


  5. It’s so funny how the author seems to write whatever is convenient in an attempt to make sense, thus making something else nonsensical. For instance, John Carter needs a year to get everyone together to save his princess. But why would they keep her for a year with an “eat date” stamped on her forehead? 😀


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