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A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs

This is the first in a series of posts reviewing books, as I read them.  Older book reviews here are mostly archives of reviews that I have posted to Amazon, some for computing books, others for cookery books.

I first read A Princess of Mars in my early teens (I was possibly 12 at the time, so not-quite-teens), while living away from home at boarding school.  I think I heard about it somewhere, and I know that I had read some of the Tarzan series much earlier (pre-teens).  It had a profound effect on me, alongside Robert Heinlein at the same time.  It was as a result of reading this that I took up fencing, for one thing.

It is a simple book, not very long when compared with current novels, told in first person by John Carter, from Virginia, once a Captain in the Confederate army, and at the start of the book a miner in Arizona.  One thing that I didn’t pick up on my first reading was the Southern voice in which it is told, something that I had never heard (or read) before.  There’s no point going into the wrong science – which was reasonably current when the book was written, at least as far as the landscape of Mars is concerned.  The scaling effect of gravity on John Carter’s strength, and his ability to jump, was perhaps more obviously wrong.

If you haven’t read this, then you should.  The first three of the series, which would include Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars, are the essentials that anyone should have read.

An interesting diversion is how I got hold of it.  I had been looking for a copy of the trilogy in a desultory way for a number of years, and would happily have paid for a fine print edition, if such a thing could be found (highly unlikely).  I had gone so far as to order a single paperback edition from Amazon, which after many months ended up unsourceable.  Then I had been checking out book reader apps on my iPod touch, and formed a firm preference for Stanza over BookShelfLT.  At the time I had to reject it, despite the better reading controls, because BookShelfLT could give me access to the Baen Free Library, which had a couple of books I wanted to read – and weren’t in print on Amazon.

So, some time later, I found an upgrade to Stanza, which let me access Baen, and I was very happy.  I also discovered that Stanza had included a lot more online libraries, and found A Princess of Mars that way.

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