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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. Whereas 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 3, 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.
This is a fun entry in the John Carter series, one that all lovers of fast-moving fantasy should enjoy.