Reading: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs Part Seven

carter_lsmallChapter Eighteen Chained Warhoon

John wakes up to discover he is now the prisoner of a different tribe of Green Men. These folks are from Warhoon, and the leader of the party thinks John has a very brief future as a gladiator in the great games. The Jeddak of this tribe, a guy named Bar Comas is apparently not as much of a jerk as most Green Men appear to be. We know this because Bar Comas does not want to kill John if he doesn’t have to.

Dak Kova, the jed who captured John does not like this plan and starts to cause trouble, calling Bar Comas weak and maudlin. Bar Comas however seems about as weak as a really, really mad grizzly bear because he immediately charges forward and commences with the butt-kicking. Unfortunately for John, Bar Comas loses the fight, and now Dak Kova is in charge. We learn that the Warhoon are a much smaller tribe than the Tharks, possibly because they keep killing each other off.

(What is slightly baffling to me is that John keeps saying how warlike the Green Men are, but this is apparently the first throwdown he has ever seen between two Green Men. It really makes no sense. He gets about half a point for including the tusks in the battle description. I also like the Disney movie Green Man design the best of all the artwork I have seen.)

John is treated much worse by the Warhoon than he had been by the Tharks. The mistreatment mostly takes the form of being confined in a dark cell filled with vermin that have a disturbing habit of cuddling up to him, and not being told when food will be arriving. After an unknown length of time, John goes more than a little crazy. He eventually goes berserk and attacks his jailer. Fortunately, his jailer had the keys to the chains and John’s cell. Unfortunately, some very large vermin turn up and John retreats.

Chapter Nineteen: Battling in the Arena

When John goes to investigate the corpse of his jailer, he discovers that the vermin had dragged the body away, so he’s still stuck in the cell. He makes a firm resolve to remain sane and experiences no further psychoses. (John being John, this of course works.) And interesting thing about the vermin (which may not be classifiable as vermin since they are of Unusual Size) is that they politely wait for their victims to be actually dead before munching. (That is to say, they don’t seem interested in nibbling on John while he is chained up and helpless.)

John makes friends with one of his fellow prisoners, introducing himself as a friend of Helium. (This is actually a silly thing to claim, since he has never been to Helium and his only connection to Helium is Dejah Thoris.) John tells the guy his story and the guy declares that it is certain that Dejah and Sola have reached safety. John’s new buddy is Kantos Kan, who is very free with information about current events. This guy is also part of the fleet of ships had been mustered to avenge or recover Dejah Thoris. (By randomly attacking and massacring two Green Martian communities, two Green Martian communities that had nothing to do with the initial attack. Awesome. So much for all that wonderful idealistic baloney Dejah was talking about earlier.)

Of course, John and Kantos become very good buddies. Also of course, they both end up in the arena for the “great games,” and they both completely destroy their opponents. It soon comes down to just three survivors, John, Kantos, and a Green dude. Kantos clobbers the Green dude, and John and Kantos are aimed toward each other. John quickly devises an escape plan that involves Kantos pretending to kill John and then Kantos going free himself. John also arranges a place where he and Kantos can meet up. Somehow, this is successful because apparently, Green Men do not bother to check if the entertainment is really dead or just spoofing.

  Chapter Twenty: In the Atmosphere Factory

 John waits around for Kantos Kan, but the dude fails to show up. John continues onward, occasionally being attacked by the wildlife. He almost loses to one of the beasties in question, but he is rescued in the nick of time by his adorable frogmonster Woola. John is very happy to see Woola, but also very upset. He declares to us that the only reason Woola would be wandering around loose is because Dejah Thoris is dead, because Woola would have otherwise have followed orders and stayed by Dejah’s side. (People immediately jumping to the conclusion that their Significant Other is dead based on almost no evidence is a frequent occurrence in the Barsoom books.)

John reaches a huge building. The occupants of the huge building are not willing to let him in because he is wearing the bling of the Green Martians, even though he superficially resembles a Red Martian. (They also don’t like his adorable frogmonster.) John eventually talks them into letting him in. The question him and reveal that they have scanned him, and therefore know that he is not of Barsoom. Eventually a little old man dressed only in a gold collar with a pectoral decoration in colors that edge outside the human visible spectrum (but which John can see) comes out.

John is welcomed as a guest and the little old man natters on about his job, which is to oversee this immense factory which produces Barsoom’s atmosphere. He offers to provide John with a letter of introduction so that he can make his way to the nearest Barsoomian city (which is Zodanga). However, John learns via his telepathy that the old dude is actually planning on knifing him in his sleep.

John escapes from the building, and ends up in a nearby community. He receives a much warmer and more polite welcome here. This is a prison-farm, supervised by three brothers and their wives. He stays with them a while, and they recommend he disguise himself to look more like a Red Martian and seek employment in Zodanga’s army or navy. They give him the means to disguise himself, and a small domestic thoat to ride. (Why these folks are so randomly friendly, I have no idea.)

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