Book: The Warlord of Mars
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Warlord of Mars is the third book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series, which are set on a dying but not yet dead Mars. The Warlord of Mars follows The Gods of Mars and, together with A Princess of Mars, forms what is effectively a trilogy. Although the series does continue for many books beyond this, and John Carter does appear again and narrate the story in later books, these are the only three books that tell a continuous story from his viewpoint. This book follows on from The Gods of Mars, with no return to Earth in-between as there was in the first two books, although it is set about six Martian months after the events in The God of Mars.
In The Gods of Mars John Carter had returned to Barsoom after ten years on Earth to appear in the Valley Dor, which was the entrance to the Martian underworld in traditional Martian religion. There, he discovered that this religion of the red men of Mars had been manipulated to benefit the Therns, the white men of Mars and one of the three original Martian races. In turn, the Therns had also been manipulated by the First Born, or black men of Mars, the second of the three races. John Carter's allies had crushed the strongholds of both the Therns and the First Born, with the friend that Carter had made amongst the First Born, Xodar, becoming their Jeddak, or King.
Unlike A Princess of Mars which can function as a stand-alone novel, as well as being the first book in this John Carter trilogy, neither The Gods of Mars nor The Warlord of Mars can really do this as they are more two parts of the same continuing story.
Once again, John Carter is travelling across the surface of Mars in search of his beloved Dejah Thoris, meeting new people making new allies and, frequently, killing a lot of the people he does meet. In this book, the third and final of the original races of Martians are met, the yellow men of Mars.
Carter's previous proficiency with a sword becomes even greater, as his abilities which would be superior on Earth are now verging on the superhuman on Mars. No mention of his skill, if any, as a marksman is apparent as, even though Barsoom possesses guns that fire a radium based projectile, it is dishonourable to attack with a gun someone who attacks with a sword. Like for like is the rule when it comes to weapons combat. His abilities that aren't related to combat seem somewhat lacking; he makes several pretty obvious mistakes, similar to the one that resulted in Dejah Thoris being imprisoned in the Temple of the Sun in the first place. Admittedly, without said mistakes the book would be a lot shorter.
The radium based technology of the Martians becomes more evident, radium being used in generators and even light sources.. Back when the novels were written in the early twentieth century, radium was still fairly new and the harmful effects of its' radiation were not yet full know. It was only later that it would become apparent how dangerous radium is. Radium light bulbs would likely kill their users.
The Warlord of Mars is more of the same sword based adventure fiction journeying of the first two books. It definitely cannot be read by itself; instead both A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars need to be read first, or what plot there is amongst all the violent action will become unfathomable.