Thuvia, Maid of Mars: Veers even more to the fantastic

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice BurroughsThuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Thuvia, Maid of Mars is the fourth of eleven JOHN CARTER novels from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It first appeared in April 1916, as a three-part serial in the magazine “All Story Weekly.” This is the first Carter novel that does not feature John Carter himself as the central character; he only makes a brief cameo appearance early on. Instead, the action mantle is taken up by Carthoris, Carter’s son, but fortunately, Carter Junior turns out to be just as good a swashbuckler as the old man.

In this installment, Princess Thuvia of Ptarth has been kidnapped by the spineless Prince Astok of Dusar, which abduction almost causes a world war on Barsoom (Mars). Young Carthoris, in his quest to free his beloved princess, runs across deserted cities, a forgotten kingdom, banths (10-legged Barsoomian lions), ethereal warriors, mucho swordplay, giant white apes, and on and on. As is usual for these books, the amount of action that Burroughs packs into a small compass is quite surprising.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWhereas previous CARTER books seem to read more like fantasy/fairy tales than science fiction, this installment veers even more to the fantastic, mainly in the use of those phantom warriors just mentioned. These bowmen are called up from the minds of the remaining members of the lost city of Lothar, and have no “real” concrete existence. However, their arrows can still kill. In this book we also get, for the first time, a nice, detailed look at life in Helium; what the people do, how they live and the like. We also receive a biological explanation of how Carthoris, who was 10 years old but a seeming adult in the previous books, got to be that way. The worldwide peace that apparently prevails at the end of book three, The Warlord of Mars, is shown in this volume to be not as widespread as was inferred, which makes for some nice tense situations. So this is a good, fast-moving, detailed entry in the series.

There are some minor problems of inconsistency and fuzzy writing, however, although not as prevalent as in previous entries. For example, in one scene, Carthoris is said to be fighting a force of a dozen Dusarians; three of these are killed, and so three are left. Huh? Carthoris seems to know exactly where to find water in the dead city of Aaanthor, despite the fact that he has never been there before. Wha? Vas Kor, one of Carthoris’ chief enemies, fails to recognize him merely because Carthoris is dirty, tired and covered with blood; this is just a bit hard to swallow. Perhaps worst of all, the book ends extremely abruptly, just as all of Barsoom is about to be plunged into that world war. We never learn the fate of several of the main villains, nor do we see the end of hostilities as the realization of the true facts becomes known. Thuvia, Maid of Mars is a short book, and would not have suffered by the addition of such scenes to make it more satisfying. Still, this is a fun entry in the JOHN CARTER series, one that all lovers of fast-moving fantasy should enjoy.

Barsoom (John Carter of Mars) — (1917-1941) Let the adventures begin, as Captain John Carter finds himself transported to the alien landscape of Mars — where the low gravity increases his speed and strength exponentially. Taken prisoner by Martian warriors, he impresses them with his remarkable fighting skills, and quickly rises to a high-ranking chieftain. But the heroic Carter’s powers thrust him right in the middle of a deadly war raging across the planet — and a dangerous romance with a divine princess.

Edgar Rice Burroughs 1. A Princess of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 2. The Gods of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 3. The Warlord of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 4. Thuvia, Maid of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 5. The Chessmen of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 6. The Master Mind of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 7. A Fighting Man of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 8. Swords of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 9. Synthetic Men of MarsEdgar Rice Burroughs 10. Llana of Gatholfantasy and science fiction book reviews


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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