The second book in the planetary romance series about Barsoom.
Publication year: 1912
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1974, reprinted 2012
Format: print
Finnish translator: Seppo Ilmari
Page count: 226
Finnish Publisher: WSOY, reprinted by Into kustannus

The previous book ended in a cliffhanger with John Carter back on Earth and separated from his beloved Dejah Thoris. This book starts with Edgar’s meeting with his uncle John who has written another manuscript and claims that he can now travel from Earth to Mars at will. However, that explanation has to wait as we start to follow John’s adventures from the moment he returns to Barsoom.

But he returns to such a weird place that at first he doubts that he’s even on Mars. He’s near an open ocean and he sees monstrous plant-like creatures. But then the monsters attack a group of green tharks and John knows that he’s indeed on Mars. Only one thark survives and he turns out to be none other than Tars Tarkas who has come to the Martian equivalent of an afterlife to look for Carter himself. John has been away for long years (10 in Earth years and 5 in Barsoomian years) and everyone thinks that he has left voluntarily to the Valley of Dor, perhaps thinking that Dejah Thoris is dead. So finally Tars has also journeyed to the Valley.

It turns out that the Valley and everything in it are not the paradise-like afterlife that the Barsoomians believe in, but a horrible place of death and slavery. But even if Tars Tarkas and John can escape it, they will most likely be executed because that is the Martian custom for those blasphemers who ”return from death”.
Two additional Barsoomian races live in the Valley: the black Martians and the white Martians who are called the thern. They are both cruel and savage people who exploit and enslave others for their own pleasure. They are also set in their ways after living thousands of years in the same way. The black people even have the goddess Issus among them whom they worship.

This book reveals the Barsoomians’ religion as a cruel sham. Yet, Burroughs doesn’t preach his own beliefs or mock the Barsoomians for being too gullible. Even though John swears by the Christian God’s name, he has neither intention nor interest in trying to push his religion to anyone. In the first book, he also accepted the worship of Issus as matter of course and didn’t even privately think ill of the religion or people following it.

If there’s one thing that bothers me, it’s that one of the people we meet turns against his customs and religion a bit too easily. However, he becomes one of John’s loyal friends.

However, the main focus is again on adventure, wondrous new places, and getting out of tight situations with the help of friends. Also, in the best traditions of the genre, John seems to be very attractive to the Martian women, because two more gorgeous Barsoomian women fall in love with him. The book ends in even more frustrating cliffhanger than the first book.