This Book, essentially takes up where the movie left off. While the movie was basically the first book (A Princess of Mars), enough was changed in the Disney version that this second book still doesn't "fit in" perfectly to the previous (Disney version) story arc.
The most notable difference being that the "therns" and of course Mati Shang, were not present in the first ERB book. They will be introduced in this book. While were on the subject of therns, while I don't generally like do give out too many "spoilers," in this case I will, so that you will not be too surprised and possibly disappointed when you meet them.
Unlike the move therns, while still extreamly intelligent and mysterious and more than a bit formidable, I might add, they are still ordinary mortal men. They bleed and die just like anyone else, nor can they change shape or disappear. That characteristic was taken from another mysterious race that is discovered in a later book, "Thuvia, Maid of Mars."
Like the move version, however, they are still the servants of the Barsoomian goddess Issus.
Also, if you have read the original ERB book, that I have previously posted (if you're reading this I will assume that you have), it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that John Carter could very well have a half Barsoomian son or daughter, by this point in time. (about twenty years after he returned to Earth, at the end of the first book).
Enough said on that; like I said, I'm not wont to giving out too many spoilers, if I can help it.
At the beginning of the last book, in my opening notes, while I made it abundantly clear that I enjoyed the movie and thought it was quite well done, I listed several things that I didn't particularly care for.
To be fair, I will now discuss the things that I actually felt were an improvement, over the ERB version. I failed to do this previously because, like I have said earlier, I don't like giving out spoilers, if I can help it.
First and foremost is the characterization of Dejah Thoris. In the book version, while still quite brave, noble and self sacrificing, she was still pretty much the stereotypical Victorian, helpless "Damsel in Distress." I think I much prefer the warrior type with extensive body tattoos, like she was in the movie.
I can't fault ERB on this however, when you consider how women in general were regarded, back when these book was written... They didn't even have the right to vote.
All things considered, for his time, he was actually quite progressive with the character of Dejah Thoris.
The method of which he went to Mars, in the movie version, I liked better too. It seems to be far more credible to stumble upon some Martian device in a cave, that can transport you there, then some sort of weird astral projection, like in the book.
If you can accept "telleporters," as in Star Trek, then it's not that much of a jump to imagine that a amulet, from some highly advanced alien race, could do the same, only over millions of miles of space.
Also, the idea that a highly advanced people had been visiting Earth and possibly other worlds, down through the ages and still are, was an intriguing idea.
My only criticism on that aspect, was that they should have kept it closer to the original story line, which I prefer.
That is really my only criticism with the movie in general; that they strayed so far from the original story line.
A/N 3 Disclaimer:
This presentation is a reproduction of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "The Gods of Mars." Other than some minor editing in the area of punctuation, sentence structure and a few spelling corrections, nothing has been changed from the original.
This work, along with the first four other books of the "Barsoom series" (A Princess of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, Thuvia, Maid of Mars and The Chessmen of Mars) exist within the public domain and the rights to the story, names, characters, etc. named within, are held by nobody.
THE GODS OF MARS
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Twelve years had passed since I had laid the body of my great-uncle, Captain Jonn Carter, of Virginia away from the sight of men, in that strange mausoleum in the old cemetery at Richmond.
Often had I pondered on the odd instructions he had left me, governing the construction of his mighty tomb and especially those parts which directed that he be laid in an OPEN casket and that the ponderous mechanism, which controlled the bolts of the vault's huge door, be accessible ONLY FROM THE INSIDE.
Twelve years had passed since I had read the remarkable manuscript of this remarkable man; this man who remembered no childhood and who could not even offer a vague guess as to his age, who was always young and yet who had bounced my grandfather's great-grandfather upon his knee, this man who had spent ten years upon the planet Mars, who had fought for the green men of Barsoom and fought against them, who had fought for and against the red men and who had won the ever beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, for his wife and for nearly ten years had been a prince of the house of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.
Twelve years had passed since his body had been found upon the bluff before his cottage overlooking the Hudson and oft-times, during these long years, I had wondered if John Carter were really dead, or if he again roamed the dead sea bottoms of that dying planet. I wondered if he had returned to Barsoom, to find that he had opened the frowning portals of the mighty atmosphere plant in time to save the countless millions, who were dying of asphyxiation, on that far-gone day that had seen him hurtled ruthlessly through forty-eight million miles of space, back to Earth once more. I had wondered if he had found his black-haired Princess and the slender son, he had dreamed was with her, in the royal gardens of Tardos Mors, awaiting his return.
Or, had he found that he had been too late and thus gone back to a living death upon a dead world? Or was he really dead after all, never to return either to his mother Earth or his beloved Mars?
Thus was I lost in useless speculation one sultry August evening, when old Ben, my body servant, handed me a telegram. Tearing it open I read...
'Meet me to-morrow hotel Raleigh Richmond.
Early the next morning I took the first train for Richmond and within two hours was being ushered into the room occupied by John Carter.
As I entered he rose to greet me, his old-time cordial smile of welcome lighting his handsome face. Apparently he had not aged a minute, but was still the straight, clean-limbed fighting-man of thirty. His keen grey eyes were undimmed and the only lines upon his face were the lines of iron character and determination that always had been there, since first I remembered him, nearly thirty-five years before.
"Well, nephew," he greeted me, "do you feel as though you were seeing a ghost, or suffering from the effects of too many of Uncle Ben's juleps?"
"Juleps, I reckon," I replied, "for I certainly feel mighty good, but maybe it's just the sight of you again that affects me. You have been back to Mars? Tell me. And Dejah Thoris? You found her well and awaiting you?"
"Yes, I have been to Barsoom again and—but it's a long story, too long to tell in the limited time I have before I must return. I have learned the secret, nephew and I may traverse the trackless void at my will, coming and going between the countless planets as I wish, but my heart is always in Barsoom and while it is there, in the keeping of my Martian Princess, I doubt that I shall ever again leave the dying world that is my life."...
"I have come now because my affection for you prompted me to see you once more, before you pass over for ever into that other life, that I shall never know and which though I have died thrice and shall die again to-night. As you know death, I am as unable to fathom as are you."...
"Even the wise and mysterious therns of Barsoom, that ancient cult, which for countless ages has been credited with holding the secret of life and death, in their impregnable fastnesses upon the hither slopes of the Mountains of Otz, are as ignorant as we. I have proved it, though I near lost my life in the doing of it. However, you shall read it all in the notes I have been making, during the last three months that I have been back upon Earth."
He patted a swelling portfolio that lay on the table at his elbow.
"I know that you are interested and that you believe and I know that the world, too, is interested, though they will not believe for many years; yes, for many ages, since they cannot understand. Earth men have not yet progressed to a point where they can comprehend the things that I have written in those notes" ...
"Give them what you wish of it, what you think will not harm them, but do not feel aggrieved if they laugh at you."
That night I walked down to the cemetery with him. At the door of his vault he turned and pressed my hand.
"Good-bye, nephew," he said. "I may never see you again, for I doubt that I can ever bring myself to leave my wife and boy while they live and the span of life upon Barsoom is often more than a thousand years."
He entered the vault. The great door swung slowly to. The ponderous bolts grated into place and the lock clicked. I have never seen Captain John Carter of Virginia since.
But here is the story of his return to Mars on that other occasion, as I have gleaned it from the great mass of notes which he left for me, upon the table of his room in the hotel at Richmond.
There is much which I have left out, much which I have not dared to tell, but you will find the story of his second search for Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, even more remarkable than was his first manuscript, which I gave to an unbelieving world a short time since and through which we followed the fighting Virginian across dead sea bottoms, under the moons of Mars.
E. R. B.