The seventh installment in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars/Barsoom series, A Fighting Man of Mars, was originally published as a six part serial in the pulp magazine Blue Book in April-September 1930, and collected in book form in 1931. (Above is the original book cover.)
Relayed* by Ulysses Paxton,the protagonist of the previous book, The Master Mind of Mars (reviewed here) to Edgar Rice Burroughs, the story centers on the exploits of Tan Hadron of Hastor. Tan falls in love with Sanoma Tora, the daughter of a rich noble who rejects him because of his low social rank.
Subsequently, Sanona Tora is kidnapped by mysterious forces who have the ability to disintergrate airships. Dispatched by Barsoon's own Warlord, John Carter (making another extended cameo) to rescue the princess, Tan Hadron encounters various bizarre situations and characters, including giantic spiders, the cannibals of U-Gor, the (literally) mad scientist and would-be conquerer Phor Tak. Ghron the perverted Jed (ruler) of Ghasta and the even more depraved Tul Axtar of Jahar, who arranged the kidnapping of Sanoma.
With only a few allies, including a beautiful escaped slave girl Tavia (who distracts Tan Hadron quite a bit) and Nur An, a former Jaharian warrior, Tan must somehow avert world war on Barsoom by stopping both Phor Tak and Tul Axtar. And when Tan is finally reunited with Sanoma... Well, let's say the story takes a very unexpected twist.
Fast paced with a number of exciting moments and lots of aerial battle scenes (including the invisible flyer used by Tan on the Jaharians) and sword fights, A Fighting Man of Mars never flags for a second. The heroes are all solid and strong and the bad guys just plain evil, but Burroughs does give Tan some decent character motivation. And Tavia is a much more self sufficient heroine than we've seen in previous installments.
Overall, A Fighting Man of Mars is a wonderful action packed ride that'll entertain all the fourteen year olds within us. Check it out.
Next: John Carter retakes center stage in Swords of Mars!
*(The book's original prologue is strangely absent from this current edition, which is a shame. The prologue had made clear that the Martian novels co-existed in the same fictional universe as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar (AKA The World at the Earth's Core) and Tarzan novels.)