A Princess of Mars


I’ve seen the movie. I actually quite like it. Not that it’s an imperative as the film differs markedly from the book. It’s fair to say this is a story of its time, having been published in 1917 (and written in 1911).

The details of how exactly our hero, John Carter, gets from Earth to Mars are somewhat vague, but once there it’s a non-stop action ride featuring fights and escapes. This is very much a tale of men, with the women relegated to small roles around which actions are taken, they do almost nothing themselves.

The characters also feel shallow and cliché to modern tastes and some of the ideas are a little entertaining given more recent knowledge of Mars. It’s also very formal and, despite the ease with which the story descends into murder and mayhem, haughty about its morals. Yet Carter kills people or causes them to be killed without guilt or remorse, he’s constantly self-aggrandizing and apparently has no flaws.

The story skips along at a good pace and is entertaining enough. It felt quite short too. It’s quoted at a bit over 7 hours.

I listened to this as a free recording by Librivox and was quite impressed. It wasn’t perfect, there were some repeated lines, chapter 18 goes a bit weird (with some of it appearing in a later chapter) and I wasn’t a massive fan of the introduction at the start of each chapter. Having said that, the reader, Thomas Copeland, does a very good job and has a voice that suits the material. If you don’t like his version there are others to choose from.

Not a bad book if you’re able to ignore the flaws.

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Reviewed: 11th August 2015