The fourth book in the Barsoom series
Publication year: 1916
Format: print and an ebook from project Gutenberg
Page count: 152 + a glossary
Publisher: Del Ray
The fourth book in the Barsoom series follows the same basic formula as the previous books: a fighting man following his kidnapped lady love all over Mars and encountering wicked villains, steadfast friends, and strange places and people. Do you need to know more?
This time the main character is Carthoris, John’s and Dejah’s son, and the tale is told in third person. The titular Thuvia is also a point-of-view character but she has far less screen time than Carthoris. She was introduced in the previous book, just like Carthoris. She helped John escape from the land of the dead by commanding the fierce Barsoomian lions, the baths. She’s also the princess of Ptarth.
Carthoris is in love with Thuvia and apparently he started to woo her at the end of Warlord of Mars, but he didn’t make his intensions clear and so Thuvia’s father promised her to his heroic friend and ally, the Jeddak of Kaol, Kulan Tith. Since Thuvia is honorable to a fault, she honors her father’s promise and spurns Carthoris. He returns to Helium with a heavy heart. However, another man is also determined to have Thuvia: Astok, Prince of Dusar. He kidnaps Thuvia, but is cunning enough to lay the blame on Carthoris. He has also sabotaged Carthoris’ compass so that Carthoris disappears around the same time as Thuvia and can’t defend himself against accusations.
Both Thuvia and Carthoris end up in the ruins of the ancient city of Aanthor in an unexplored (by red men) part of Mars. There, they encounter the Lotharians who have focused on their mind in order to survive. They can create fearsome bowmen and even food with their minds alone. However, they are constantly besieged by the green Martians and so they’ve come to believe that they are the only civilized people alive on Mars. They have hard time believing that Carthoris and Thuvia are even real. Oh, and all the Lothrian women and children are dead so it’s literally a society of very long-lived adult males. Their jeddak has forbidden them to conjure images of women or children. They have two factions: the realists who believe that they need to imagine meals in order to continue living and the etherealists who don’t even image meals anymore. Both stay alive.
The device that Carthoris has developed is quite ingenious considering the time the book was written. It’s essentially an automated pilot and it can also sense when some obstacle is near and goes around it.
This is another fun romp and I think that Thuvia is slightly less passive a heroine than Dejah. Thuvia commands the banths and she even uses her dagger to defend herself. Of course, a modern reader can find lots of objectionable things in this series.