A Fighting Man of Mars

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Series: Barsoom 7
Reviewed date: 2006 Jul 5
Rating: 3
239 pages
cover art

"Perhaps," said Nur An, "fish are not such fools as they appear. They may see us approaching and question our motives."

Edgar Rice Burroughs is most famous as the creator of Tarzan, but his Mars series is excellent as well. A Fighting Man of Mars is the seventh in the series, and although the previous books give some nice background information, the story stands on its own. Many fans consider A Fighting Man of Mars the best of the Mars books. I am undecided: a good case can also be made for The Chessmen of Mars.

Unlike most of the preceding Mars tales, A Fighting Man of Mars stars a native man of Mars, not an Earthman. Tan Hadron, a warrior from the city of Helium, must rescue his kidnapped true love: the beautiful but cold-hearted Sanoma Tora. He tracks her to the country of Jahar, ruled by the megalomaniacal Tul Axtar. Under Tul Axtar's leadership, Jahar has invented powerful disintegrator rayguns with which Tul Axtar intends to conquer all of Mars.

So Tan Hadron must not only rescue Sanoma Tora, he must also prevent Tul Axtar from conquering Mars. A lucky coincidence brings Tan Hadron to the castle of Phor Tak, the exiled scientist who invented Tul Axtar's disintegration weapons. Phor Tak has the knowledge necessary to stop Tul Axtar, but he has gone half-insane, and intends to use his knowledge to conquer Mars himself.

"Phor Tak," I said, "you hold here within your grasp two secrets which in the hands of a kindly and beneficient power would bring eternal peace to Barsoom."
"Heigh-oo!" he cried. "I do not want peace. I want war. War! War!"

It's quite a fun read. The first couple of chapters start out slow, but the rest of the book is excellent. Tan Hadron sets off alone to recapture Sanoma Tora, but along the way he picks up companions including the hard-nosed slave woman Tavia, an exiled Jaharian named Nur An, and Nur An's true love Phao. Tan Hadron becomes fast friends with his companions, and learns the value of true, loyal friendship.

A Fighting Man of Mars is out of copyright in most nations. In nations with unreasonable and unconscionable copyright laws, such as the United States, it is not yet in the public domain. But don't let that stop you from reading it online at Project Gutenberg of Australia.

Archive | Search