The third book in the series and a direct sequel to the previous book.

Publication year: 1919
Format: ebook, downloaded from Gutenberg

The previous book, Gods of Mars, ended with a nail-biting cliffhanger where Dejah Thoris and the lovely and virtuous Thuvia of Ptarth are imprisoned for a Martian year into the Temple of the Sun together with their enemy Phaidor who is the cruel daughter of Matai Shang. When the door to the temple closed, Phaidor was attacking Dejah with a dagger and the men outside heard a terrible screm. Then the door closed. John has been waiting for six months for the door to open so that he could know who was killed. He was pretty desperate at first but then he was asked to become the ruler of the black Martians, the First Born. However, he declined and instead appointed his friend Xodar as their jeddak. Then he realizes that one of his earlier foes, Thurid, is up to no good. Thurid and Matai Shang are trying to free the women from their prison and John follows them. Unfortunately, they are able to kidnap both Dejah and Thuvia. John has to pursue them across Barsoom. He finds another ancient and secretive race of Martians, the yellow men.

This is classic pulp SF. Pretty much the only plot device in the book is kidnapping Dejah Thoris, over and over again. However, even though she spends a lot of time in the hands of her captors, she isn’t harmed, which shows old-fashioned chivalry which I, for one, was grateful.

Meanwhile, John has all sorts of interesting adventures, makes new friends and new enemies. The rulers of the cities and whole nations aren’t politicians but warriors and often exceptional in hand-to-hand sword fighting. The descriptions of places are as imaginative as ever and very evocative. The pace is relentless, throwing John from one dangerous situation to another almost constantly.

If you liked the first two novels, you’ll probably like this one, too.

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