A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
Burroughs employs a literary device for A Princess of Mars to which he returned to in several sequels—introducing the novel as though it were a factual account passed on to him personally. Characterized by copious violent action, the novel is essentially a travelogue,telling a tale of a journey and various encounters on that journey, that don’t always have an explicitly defined plot.
As is the case with the majority of the Barsoom novels to follow, A Princess of Mars portrays a hero facing impossible odds and forced to fight a range of lurid creatures in order to win the love of the heroine.
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First published in 1912, A Princess of Mars is a science fantasy novel by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs. The novel marks the beginning of his Barsoom series and is considered a classic example of 20th-century pulp fiction. While the novel features plenty of swordplay and daring feats, Burroughs experiments with planetary romance, a subgenre of science fantasy that became increasingly popular following the publication of A Princess of Mars. The story itself takes place on Mars, imagined as a dying planet with a harsh desert environment.
John Carter, a Confederate veteran of the American Civil War, is mysteriously transported to Mars, known as “Barsoom” by its inhabitants, after hiding out in a sacred cave in Arizona. Carter soon discovers that he has incredible strength and superhuman agility in the new environment as a result of its lower levels of gravity and atmospheric pressure. He soon encounters a nomadic tribe of Green Martians, known as the Tharks, which are the planet's warlike, six-limbed, green-skinned inhabitants. Thanks to his newly found strength and martial prowess, Carter rises to a high position in the tribe and earns the respect and eventual friendship of Tars Tarkas, one of the Thark chiefs.
The Tharks tribe eventually capture Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium and a member of the humanoid Red Martian race. The Red Martians inhabit a loose network of city-states and are in control of the desert planet's canals and agriculture., along which its agriculture is concentrated.
After rescuing Dejah Thoris and winning a war against the enemies of Helium, he becomes the Prince of Helium, and the two live happily together for nine years. However, the sudden breakdown of the Atmosphere Plant that sustains the planet's waning air supply threatens the possibility of life on Barsoom. In a desperate attempt to save the planet's inhabitants, Carter uses a secret telepathic code to enter the plant and brings an engineer along who can restore its functionality. Carter then succumbs to asphyxiation, only to awaken back on Earth, left to wonder what has become of Barsoom and his beloved wife.