o here we are at the second novel of John Carter on Mars, The Gods of Mars. And here, author Edgar Rice Burroughs has something to piss off everyone. Race, religion, it’s all there. Really, just read it as an adventure novel and don’t go too deep.
So poor John Carter has been separated from his adapted Martian home in the Empire of Helium and his beloved Dejah Thoris for a decade. Finally he manages to teleport his sad little self back to Mars, only to appear in the worst prison on the planet, the Valley Dor, which is held to be the Martian afterlife.
See, the thing is, once you pilgrimage there, you cannot return under pain of death. So, yes, nice landing, John.
While there, and after meeting with his old green buddy Tars Tarkas, he fights his way to the literal truth, that a nation of white Martians have been maintaining this convenient fiction of an afterlife for millennia, capturing slave girls and studs from those who float into the valley and leaving the rest to be eaten by giant white apes and blood-sucking plantmen.
But wait, there’s more. The white Martians have their own mythology, that they go into a temple garden and live forever. But jokes on them – black Martians actually play the same scam on them, enslaving the best and killing the rest. Serves them right.
And so there are hectic escapes and heroic battles, ending up with a sprawling sky battle with everyone involved (white, green, red, black, every Martian race was in on it). Overall, a fun book if you like pulp scifi, good silly fun.