The Gods of Mars
Burroughs’ second book in the classic Barsoom series, The Gods of Mars is a scientific fiction novel following the adventures of John Carter as he returns to Mars after a ten year hiatus in the hope of being reunited with his wife, child and the Red Martian people. First published as a five-part serial in a pulp magazine in the course of 1913, the novel was later published as a whole in 1918. A tale of audacity, honor, optimism, and perseverance, Burroughs successfully builds on to the previous book allowing a broader view of the Red Planet.
The novel begins as John Carter returns to Barsoom after his involuntary absence of ten years and finds himself in the Valley Dor, or the Barsoomian afterlife from which no one is permitted to leave. However, the Valley Dor is anything but a spiritual haven and instead Carter discovers that it is a ruse, forged by the Therns, a race of self-proclaimed gods. For eons they have deceived Barsoomians into believing that the pilgrimage to the Valley Dor is a journey to paradise, although in reality most visitors are either killed or enslaved by the Therns. Accompanied by friend Tars Tarkas, the pair tries to escape from the place, and are aided by the confusion caused by an attack by the Black Pirates of Barsoom upon the Therns. Taking advantage of the present mayhem, Carter and his accomplices are able to hijack a Black Pirate flier, killing most of the Pirates in the process and saving a Thern captive. Carter learns that the Black Pirates or the “First Born”, also see themselves as gods therefore clarifying their hatred for the Therns. The Red Planet finds itself in a time of crisis, immersed in religious and schismatic conflict, and it is up to Carter to not only participate but maneuver a planetary scale revolution.
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