Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)
A Critic's Meta-Review: 4/5
Burroughs' vision of Mars was loosely inspired by the astronomical speculation of the time, especially that of Percival Lowell, who theorized that the planet Mars was formerly quite similar to Earth but had become less hospitable to life due to its advanced age. As a result, The Warlord of Mars makes an excellent addition to a classic series in the planetary romance genre.
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The science fantasy novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars, is the third novel of his Barsoom series. The book was originally published as a four-part serial spanning between December 1913 and March 1914. Burroughs began writing the book in June, 1913, going through five working titles; Yellow Men of Barsoom, The Fighting Prince of Mars, Across Savage Mars, The Prince of Helium, before settling on The Warlord of Mars.
The novel is classified as a planetary romance, a subset of science fiction. Most of the action in a planetary romance takes place on the surface of an alien world, including sword fighting, monsters, supernatural elements rather than magic, and civilizations that echo those seen on Earth in pre-technological eras.
The Warlord of Mars illustrates, about million years before the narrative commences, Mars as a lush world with oceans. As these oceans receded, the atmosphere grew thin and the planet has devolved into a landscape of partial barbarism as inhabitants faced dwindling resources. As a result, they often had to fight one another to survive. The scarce water supplies are distributed through a worldwide system of canals, which are controlled by multiple city-states.
The world of Barsoom is divided by territories of Black, Green, Red, Yellow and White skinned races. Each group has a particular set of characteristics which define most individuals within them. This concept of race functions more like a division between species rather than as an ethnicity.
The Warlord of Mars introduces the Yellow Martians, who were supposedly extinct, as they are found by John Carter in secret cities at the north pole. The Yellow Martians are described as being exceptionally cruel, keeping slaves, and capturing fliers through giant magnetic devices that set them off course.
The novel continues where the previous one in the series, The Gods of Mars, concluded. The end of the previous book saw John Carter's wife, the princess Dejah Thoris, imprisoned in the Temple of the Sun by the goddess Issus. She was said to have had to wait an entire Barsoomian year before the room she is imprisoned in revolves back to the entrance.