A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars

3.7 124
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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In this landmark, Civil War veteran John Carter is transported to a dying planet, where he must face giant green barbarians to rescue a Martian princess. Burroughs, best known as the creator of Tarzan, published this novel in 1911 and introduced a new style of writing that combined the genres of fantasy, adventure, and science fiction.

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In this landmark, Civil War veteran John Carter is transported to a dying planet, where he must face giant green barbarians to rescue a Martian princess. Burroughs, best known as the creator of Tarzan, published this novel in 1911 and introduced a new style of writing that combined the genres of fantasy, adventure, and science fiction.

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From the Publisher
Might it really be possible—in fact and not fancy—to venture with John Carter to the Kingdom of Helium on the planet Mars? (Carl Sagan)

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Dover Publications
Publication date:
Dover Value Editions Series, #1
Product dimensions:
5.04(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.28(d)

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A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Edgar Rice Burroughs
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-80787-4



I AM a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living forever; that some day I shall die the real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced of my mortality.

And because of this conviction I have determined to write down the story of the interesting periods of my life and of my death. I cannot explain the phenomena; I can only set down here in the words of an ordinary soldier of fortune a chronicle of the strange events that befell me during the ten years that my dead body lay undiscovered in an Arizona cave.

I have never told this story, nor shall mortal man see this manuscript until after I have passed over for eternity. I know that the average human mind will not believe what it cannot grasp, and so I do not purpose being pilloried by the public, the pulpit, and the press, and held up as a colossal liar when I am but telling the simple truths which some day science will substantiate. Possibly the suggestions which I gained upon Mars, and the knowledge which I can set down in this chronicle, will aid in an earlier understanding of the mysteries of our sister planet; mysteries to you, but no longer mysteries to me.

My name is John Carter; I am better known as Captain Jack Carter of Virginia. At the close of the Civil War I found myself possessed of several hundred thousand dollars (Confederate) and a captain's commission m the cavalry arm of an army which no longer existed; the servant of a state which had vanished with the hopes of the South. Masterless, penniless, and with my only means of livelihood, fighting, gone, I determined to work my way to the southwest and attempt to retrieve my fallen fortunes in a search for gold.

I spent nearly a year prospecting in company with another Confederate officer, Captain James K. Powell of Richmond. We were extremely fortunate, for late in the winter of 1866, after many hardships and privations, we located the most remarkable gold-bearing quartz vein that our wildest dreams had ever pictured. Powell, who was a mining engineer by education, stated that we had uncovered over a million dollars worth of ore in a trifle over three months.

As our equipment was crude in the extreme we decided that one of us must return to civilization, purchase the necessary machinery and return with a sufficient force of men properly to work the mine.

As Powell was familiar with the country, as well as with the mechanical requirements of mining, we determined that it would be best for him to make the trip. It was agreed that I was to hold down our claim against the remote possibility of its being jumped by some wandering prospector.

On March 3, 1866, Powell and I packed his provisions on two of our burros, and bidding me good-bye he mounted his horse, and started down the mountainside toward the valley, across which led the first stage of his journey.

The morning of Powell's departure was, like nearly all Arizona mornings, clear and beautiful; I could see him and his little pack animals picking their way down the mountainside toward the valley, and all during the morning I would catch occasional glimpses of them as they topped a hog back or came out upon a level plateau. My last sight of Powell was about three in the afternoon as he entered the shadows of the range on the opposite side of the valley.

Some half hour later I happened to glance casually across the valley and was much surprised to note three little dots in about the same place I had last seen my friend and his two pack animals. I am not given to needless worrying, but the more I tried to convince myself that all was well with Powell, and that the dots I had seen on his trail were antelope or wild horses, the less I was able to assure myself.

Since we had entered the territory we had not seen a hostile Indian, and we had, therefore, become careless in the extreme, and were wont to ridicule the stories we had heard of the great numbers of these vicious marauders that were supposed to haunt the trails, taking their toll in lives and torture of every white party which fell into their merciless clutches.

Powell, I knew, was well armed and, further, an experienced Indian fighter; but I too had lived and fought for years among the Sioux in the North, and I knew that his chances were small against a party of cunning trailing Apaches. Finally I could endure the suspense no longer, and, arming myself with my two Colt revolvers and a carbine, I strapped two belts of cartridges about me, and catching my saddle horse, started down the trail taken by Powell in the morning.

As soon as I reached comparatively level ground I urged my mount into a canter and continued this, where the going permitted, until, close upon dusk, I discovered the point where other tracks joined those of Powell. They were the tracks of unshod ponies, three of them, and the ponies had been galloping.

I followed rapidly until, darkness shutting down, I was forced to await the rising of the moon, and given an opportunity to speculate on the question of the wisdom of my chase. Possibly I had conjured up impossible dangers, like some nervous old housewife, and when I should catch up with Powell would get a good laugh for my pains. However, I am not prone to sensitiveness, and the following of a sense of duty, wherever it may lead, has always been a kind of fetich with me throughout my life; which may account for the honors bestowed upon me by three republics and the decorations and friendships of an old and powerful emperor and several lesser kings, in whose service my sword has been red many a time.

About nine o'clock the moon was sufficiently bright for me to proceed on my way and I had no difficulty in following the trail at a fast walk, and in some places at a brisk trot until, about midnight, I reached the water hole where Powell had expected to camp. I came upon the spot unexpectedly, finding it entirely deserted, with no signs of having been recently occupied as a camp.

I was interested to note that the tracks of the pursuing horsemen, for such I was now convinced they must be, continued after Powell with only a brief stop a t the hole for water; and always at the same rate of speed as his.

I was positive now that the trailers were Apaches and that they wished to capture Powell alive for the fiendish pleasure of the torture, so I urged my horse onward at a most dangerous pace, hoping against hope that I would catch up with the red rascals before they attacked him.

Further speculation was suddenly cut short by the faint report of two shots far ahead of me. I knew that Powell would need me now if ever, and I instantly urged my horse to his topmost speed up the narrow and difficult mountain trail.

I had forged ahead for perhaps a mile or more without hearing further sounds, when the trail suddenly debouched onto a small, open plateau near the summit of the pass. I had passed through a narrow, overhanging gorge just before entering suddenly upon this table land, and the sight which met my eyes filled me with consternation and dismay.

The little stretch of level land was white with Indian tepees, and there were probably half a thousand red warriors clustered around some object near the center of the camp. Their attention was so wholly riveted to this point of interest that they did not notice me, and I easily could have turned back into the dark recesses of the gorge and made my escape with perfect safety. The fact, however, that this thought did not occur to me until the following day removes any possible right to a claim to heroism to which the narration of this episode might possibly otherwise entitle me.

I do not believe that I am made of the stuff which constitutes heroes, because, in all of the hundreds of instances that my voluntary acts have placed me face to face with death, I cannot recall a single one where any alternative step to that I took occurred to me until many hours later. My mind is evidently so constituted that I am subconsciously forced into the path of duty without recourse to tiresome mental processes. However that may be, I have never regretted that cowardice is not optional with me.

In this instance I was, of course, positive that Powell was the center of attraction, but whether I thought or acted first I do not know, but within an instant from the moment the scene broke upon my view I had whipped out my revolvers and was charging down upon the entire army of warriors, shooting rapidly, and whooping at the top of my lungs. Single ·handed, I could not have pursued better tactics, for the red men, convinced by sudden surprise that not less than a regiment of regulars was upon them, turned and fled in every direction for their bows, arrows, and rifles.

The view which their hurried routing disclosed filled me with apprehension and with rage. Under the clear rays of the Arizona moon lay Powell, his body fairly bristling with the hostile arrows of the braves. That he was already dead I could not but be convinced, and yet I would have saved his body from mutilation at the hands of the Apaches as quickly as I would have saved the man himself from death.

Riding close to him I reached down from the saddle, and grasping his cartridge belt drew him up across the withers of my mount. A backward glance convinced me that to return by the way I had come would be more hazardous than to continue across the plateau, so, putting spurs to my poor beast, I made a dash for the opening to the pass which I could distinguish on the far side of the table land.

The Indians had by this time discovered that I was alone and I was pursued with imprecations, arrows, and rifle balls. The fact that it is difficult to aim anything but imprecations accurately by moonlight, that they were upset by the sudden and unexpected manner of my advent, and that I was a rather rapidly moving target saved me from the various deadly projectiles of the enemy and permitted me to reach the shadows of the surrounding peaks before an orderly pursuit could be organized.

My horse was traveling practically unguided as I knew that I had probably less knowledge of the exact location of the trail to the pass than he, and thus it happened that he entered a defile which led to the summit of the range and not to the pass which I had hoped would carry me to the valley and to safety. It is probable, however, that to this fact I owe my life and the remarkable experiences and adventures which befell me during the following ten years.

My first knowledge that I was on the wrong trail came when I heard the yells of the pursuing savages suddenly grow fainter and fainter far off to my left.

I knew then that they had passed to the left of the jagged rock formation at the edge of the plateau, to the right of which my horse had borne me and the body of Powell.

I drew rein on a little level promontory overlooking the trail below and to my left, and saw the party of pursuing savages disappearing around the point of a neighboring peak.

I knew the Indians would soon discover that they were on the wrong trail and that the search for me would be renewed in the right direction as soon as they located my tracks.

I had gone but a short distance further when what seemed to be an excellent trail opened up around the face of a high cliff. The trail was level and quite broad and led upward and in the general direction I wished to go. The cliff arose for several hundred feet on my right, and on my left was an equal and nearly perpendicular drop to the bottom of a rocky ravine.

I had followed this trail for perhaps a hundred yards when a sharp turn to the right brought me to the mouth of a large cave. The opening was about four feet in height and three to four feet wide, and at this opening the trail ended.

It was now morning, and, with the customary lack of dawn which is a startling characteristic of Arizona, it had become daylight almost without warning.

Dismounting, I laid Powell upon the ground, but the most painstaking examination failed to reveal the faintest spark of life. I forced water from my canteen between his dead lips, bathed his face and rubbed his hands, working over him continuously for the better part of an hour in the face of the fact that I knew him to be dead.

I was very fond of Powell; he was thoroughly a man in every respect; a polished southern gentleman; a staunch and true friend; and it was with a feeling of the deepest grief that I finally gave up my crude endeavors at resuscitation.

Leaving Powell's body where it lay on the ledge I crept into the cave to reconnoiter. I found a large chamber, possibly a hundred feet in diameter and thirty or forty feet in height; a smooth and well-worn floor, and many other evidences that the cave had, at some remote period, been inhabited. The back of the cave was so lost in dense shadow that I could not distinguish whether there were openings into other apartments or not.

As I was continuing my examination I commenced to feel a pleasant drowsiness creeping over me which I attributed to the fatigue of my long and strenuous ride, and the reaction from the excitement of the fight and the pursuit. I felt comparatively safe in my present location as I knew that one man could defend the trail to the cave against an army.

I soon became so drowsy that I could scarcely resist the strong desire to throw myself on the floor of the cave for a few moments' rest, but I knew that this would never do, as it would mean certain death at the hands of my red friends, who might he upon me a t any moment. With an effort I started toward the opening of the cave only to reel drunkenly against a side wall, and from there slip prone upon the floor.



A SENSE of delicious dreaminess overcame me, my muscles relaxed, and I was on the point of giving way to my desire to sleep when the sound of approaching horses reached my ears. I attempted to spring to my feet but was horrified to discover that my muscles ref used to respond to my will. I was now thoroughly awake, but as unable to move a muscle as though turned to stone. It was then, for the first time, that I noticed a slight vapor filling the cave. It was extremely tenuous and only noticeable against the opening which led to daylight. There also came to my nostrils a faintly pungent odor, and I could only assume that I had been overcome by some poisonous gas, but why I should retain my mental faculties and yet be unable to move I could not fathom.

I lay facing the opening of the cave and where I could see the short stretch of trail which lay between the cave and the turn of the cliff around which the trail led. The noise of the approaching horses had ceased, and I judged the Indians were creeping stealthily upon me along the little ledge which led to my living tomb. I remember that I hoped they would make short work of me as I did not particularly relish the thought of the innumerable things they might do to me if the spirit prompted them.

I had not long to wait before a stealthy sound apprised me of their nearness, and then a war-bonneted, paint-streaked face was thrust cautiously around the shoulder of the cliff, and savage eyes looked into mine. That he could see me in the dim light of the cave I was sure for the early morning sun was falling full upon me through the opening.


Excerpted from A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Copyright © 2005 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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From the Publisher
"[Burroughs] has created a novel that speaks to the sensibilities and tastes of a modern audience." —-SF Site

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A Princess of Mars 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 124 reviews.
CraigMiloRogers More than 1 year ago
I was eager to reread this classic novel, especially in light of the upcoming movie adaptation. However, the amount of junk and missing words (presumably OCR errors, but perhaps a reader error) in the copy I downloaded to my Color Nook from the B&N store made it difficult to read and enjoy. I do not recommend the ebook edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Poor quality scan and not proofreading. Chunks of text are missing. I highly recommend the book, but not this edition. Zero stars for this edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started to read the Princess of Mars but quit after the first 7 pages. The quality of transcription was exceedingly poor for this book. words or groups of words missing. I expected higher quality from Barnes and Noble. Good thing it was free.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awful copy. Missing words and sentences. This ebook version is not a book - its a puzzle!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Burroughs' Princess of Mars, he describes a lushly realized Mars (Barsoom to its inhabitants) where former Captain John Carter of Virginia can conquer alien civilizations and win the hand of the Martian Princess, Dejah Thoris, the universe's most beautiful woman. (Contrary to many portrayals in art, yes, Burroughs does describe what she's wearing, and, no, it's nothing more than jewelry.) This was followed by two equally fine novels, The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, as well as a brilliant series of Barsoomian adventures to follow. Is it any wonder a book with such a dreamlike quality can become arguably the world's most widely read novel?
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want a good science fiction series, read the Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, of which A Princess of Mars is the first. Burroughs uses his great imagination and spins a story about John Carter going to mars. I love the series and have read them over and over, trust me science fiction lovers, this book is for you.
Ringslinger More than 1 year ago
It was good and I was really getting into it, but with all the editing errors and the was it was formatted for the nook it was hard to read. I ended up buying the dollar version so I could finish it. I suggest doing the same. What I could understand through the editing erros was good though I recommend it, just not the free copy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend gave me his father's copy to borrow while I was laid up after surgery. I was very skeptical about it because of it's name. After the first page, I was hooked. It is the kind of book you read, and then go to great lengths to find more of the series. I have just found a copy in hardbound after 3 years of looking. 3 years. The book is just that good. Phenominal choice. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I downloaded all four of these, but they will not open and have actually screwed up my nook. I can't open any other books after I have tried to open these books.
Supermeighen More than 1 year ago
John Carter is a Confederate officer in the now post-Civil War world out prospecting for gold when a series of events takes him from the Arizona desert to Mars, which as called by its locals is "Barsoom". Instantly he is forced to fight for his life and adapt to a whole new culture of war and violence with the green martians. While he is with the green martians, they capture a beautiful red martian called Dejah Thoris, who so happens to be the princess of Helium, a great kingdom on Mars. Instantly John Carter falls in love with her, and through more events she is taken from him and he is forced to find her and rescue her. This story is one of the first of its kind ever written. Not necessarily the best writing I have ever read, but nonetheless a precedent in science fiction and fantasy writing. A must read for those who would claim to be versed on classic literature or classic science fiction. Considered to be one of the first pulp sci-fi novels ever written, it was first released as a magazine serial in the earl 1900s.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not usually a fan of early sci-fi because early sci-fi 1) can be corny 2) can have too much drama, as if it were a play translated to book form. This novel does have both of those characteristics but not in large proportion. The creativity of the book (especially considering when it was written) is refreshing, entertaining, and engaging enough to make a reader want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reflow and formatting are horrible. Hopefully better editions will appear as Disney rapes these standards.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its ez to see how all the grate si fi directers get there inspiration from the mars books. The problems in the ereader makes littel dif. To me . I enjoy it very much and could not pput it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read, but it has too many typos;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun read although the editing of this version is pretty bad it is tolerable for a free book I love how the author of Tarzan includes Martian apes in the story!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you spend 99¿ for all 5 of the Mars series there are no errors. All of those annoying /#*drw+%/ which are supposed to be words are gone. These book are understandable. All of them! No guessing. They are wonderful and a dollar well spent. You won't regret it. For me it's like sci-fi in the beginning. The days of its infancy. No matter what types of books you are a fan of you will enjoy these. They have Style and Class. Very well done. A true classic Sanna7125
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good story. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On to the second book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could have done without all of the typos but what can i say? It was a free version of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few novels in the sci-fi arena have instilled the excitement and attention to detail that Burroughs has. I first read the Martian series in High school back in the 60's. I have read each novel (all 10 & 1/2)several times each and still find them as exciting as the first time. This is 'Must Read' material; which you will find yourself using to compare against all others. A brilliant storyteller!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you Harvard for finding and posting this treasure on ebooks. Mr Burroughs is way ahead of his time. This could be excellent fantasy Sci Fi of today. Of course, the prose is masterful of his day and delightful. Something too rare among today's authors. Now we have the task of locating the other titles listed in the back of this wonderful book, which we've no doubt will be of similar caliber.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I very much enjoy the story, this particular edition is very poorly edited and whole chunks of the text are missing or improperly formatted. I recommend finding a better formatted copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago