A Prince of Mars

by Rob Dorsey
Series: Barsoom fan fiction
Reviewed date: 2022 Jan 24
534 pages

cover art

What we have here is a Barsoom fan fiction novel. It's not bad, but I just couldn't get into it. I'm afraid I did not finish this one.

Here are the notes I took while I was reading, before I gave up.

Page 1: Dorsey starts out by explaining Barsoom is in a parallel universe, then runs us through the late John Carter’s family: his second son Darus is ruler of the Heliumite empire. Prince Darus and his wife have two sons: Prince Carthan and Prince Deajon, and twin daughters: Princess Zurjah and Princess Elona.

How John Carter and Dejah Thoris died is not addressed, nor do we know what happened to Carthoris

Page 2: The author switches back and forth from past tense to present tense.

Page 5: Dorsey uses the term Redman and Redwoman to refer to the red men of Barsoom. I don’t recall Edgar Rice Burroughs doing that.

Page 10: Teyos Than, murderous narcissistic psychopath, is jeddak of Zodanga and leader of the Zodangan Resistance.

Page 12: Zurah Than is a dwar in the First Resistance Army. She is a fearsome fighter with a keen mind, and is leader over a platoon of twenty-four men. So I guess Barsoom is more feminist now. She’s no damsel in distress anyway. She’s still a stunning beauty though.

Page 24: In chapter 1, Prince Darus and his loyal Tharks defeat some ambushing Warhoons, then they encounter some rebel Zodangans. They kill only the dwar, then bring the rest back to Helium. Darus charms the Zodangans by treating them as comrades and inviting them to join the Heliumite empire. In doing so he displays his personal charisma and leadership qualities. Truly Darus is a god among men.

Page 26: This story is set back when John Carter and Dejah Thoris are alive, but what happened to Carthoris? Dorsey clearly says Darus is the “Crown Prince of Helium”, “the only male heir.”

Page 42: Chapter 2: Darus treats the rebel Zodangans as honored guests, to the consternation of Kantos Kan. Darus and his Thark “brother” Torz greet John Carter and Dejah Thoris. Dejah Thoris acts like a hysterical woman when she learns of the dangers Darus has been through.

Page 55: We just had a dozen pages of a Carter family meeting and emotional cry session. I am not liking this.

Page 63: John Carter mentions one of his sons is the Jed of Omean and his daughter is married to the Jed of Gathol. So…is Darus still the only male heir? I’m confused.

Page 65: Ooh, a 9th ray weapon.

Page 66: Wait, Zurah Than is a princess, the sister of Teyos Than. In the introduction Prince Darus is married but his wife is conspicuously unnamed. Dorsey is setting it up for Darus and Zurah Than to be matched up.

Page 68: Zurah Than can envision an old ruin as it was in ages past, a bustling market with “fresh fish and seafood of every kind?” I don’t know. Why would someone who has never seen an ocean imagine a bustling seafood market? I’m probably being too nitpicky.

Page 75: Zido Pinkus is not buying what Helium is selling. He means to assassinate Prince Darus at dinner.

Page 82: I liked ERB’s prudish Victorian sensibilities. This is a bit different.

Page 92: Really? “The War of Northern Aggression?” Are we really taking a crack at American politics now?

Page 111: Rurapendte? A Star Trek reference? Also, I’m disappointed in how incompetent Zido Pinkus was as an assassin. He jumped up on the table, announced his intentions, and was then surprised at being unable to carry out his murderous intentions? Idiot.

Page 115: So far it’s not a bad work of fan fiction. Dorsey doesn’t attempt to mimic ERB’s style, which is fine. So far it doesn’t feel much like an ERB story, but maybe we’ll get some of that Barsoom flavor eventually.

Page 121: The first mention of Carthoris!

Page 136: Oh ho. So Carthoris “not only seems unwilling to return to Helium to take up the responsibilities of his station, but also refuses even to respond to our requests for a discussion of his intentions.” That’s a convenient and totally unconvincing way of getting rid of Carthoris. Why do it anyway? Why not just have Carthoris be the star of the book?

Page 144: Dorsey keeps referring to people by their title and second part of their name. E.g., Kantos Kan is Jedwar Kan. As if Kan is his last name. Never in all of ERB’s writings did he suggest that’s how Barsoomian names work. Kantos Kan’s name is Kantos Kan. Never just Kantos or just Kan. I think. It’s odd that Dorsey treats the names this way.

Page 186: Zido Pinkus is speaking in American country bumpkin dialect to fool the Helium soldiers. This sure isn’t ERB’s Barsoom. I don’t like dialog written in dialect, and this feels too much like Earth and not enough like Barsoom.

Page 202: I’m grumbling a lot but on balance this isn’t a half bad piece of fan fiction. So far so good.

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