Although my plan to read all the sci-fi novels on the NPR Top 100 science-fiction and fantasy books got derailed back before Christmas, the recent and short-lived release of the film John Carter has piqued my interest in the source material. Having finished A Princess of Mars in about a week, it was on to the next book in the series, The Gods of Mars.
John Carter returns to Mars after a lengthy absence and quickly encounters several new races of Martians, the Plant Men, the White Martians (aka Therns) and the Black Martians (aka Black Pirates of Barsoom or First Born). He learns the horrible secret behind the cult of Issus and fights many battles for his princess and the people of Mars who he has grown to love. I won't reveal much more except to say, at the end of The Gods of Mars, a great dread weighs heavily on the hero and he will have to wait a good deal longer to learn the fate of his beloved princess and be reunited with her once again.
The Gods of Mars, much like its predecessor, is an entertaining, though not particularly challenging read. Aside from a bit of commentary on the potential dangers of organized religion, the book makes little effort at deeper themes. It really is ideal for a casual reader such as myself who typically only has a few minutes per day to dedicate to it. I have to say, seeing the movie has really helped me become more immersed in the setting. In the climactic battle, where the Helium, Thern and First Born navies contest the skies of Barsoom, while the Tharks assault the Temple of Issus, I was seeing scenes from the movie in my mind. The visual aspects of John Carter really were fantastic.