John Carter, after making what amounted to extended cameos in the previous four books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian series (read my reviews of the previous novels here), retakes the spotlight in Swords of Mars, first published as a sixpart serial in Blue Book magazine in 1934-35. (Click here to reserve our copy.)
This time, posing as a mercenary named Vandor, Carter's infiltrated the Guild of Assassins, a sort of trade union of hired killers who've racked up quite a body count.The Guild, operating out of the city of Zodanga, is led by the deadly Ur Jan.
At the same time, Carter also meets up with two rival scientists, Fal Sivas and Gar Nal, both of whom are working on competing spaceship projects. Things get complicated when Ur Jan and Gar Nal kidnap Carter's wife, Dejah Thoris, and whisk her off to the Martian moon Thuria.
Carter is forced to steal Fal Sivas' ship, whose "electronic brain" (a then-ahead-of-its-time-for-1934 guidance system) can be controlled telepathically and follow the kidnappers. But serveral surprises await him and his companions...
Almost two stories in one -a swashbuckling suspense thriller with lots of sword fights in Zodanga and a rousing action adventure on another world (there are some very interesting creatures on Thuria)-, Swords of Mars is another fun entry in the Martian saga. Burroughs is still enjoying himself and shows new dimensions of storytelling, particularly in characterzation.
Except for Dejah Thoris, who's still just a trophy wife/kidnap victim, the other female characters Zanda and Ozara have more weight than the usual Burroughs heroine. Even one of the villains gets a little more depth than previous antagonists in the series.
Swords of Mars is another exciting entry in Burroughs' Martian series. Check it out.
Next: Synthetic Men of Mars!