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

A-Princess-of-Mars-Edgar-Rice-Burro16-small Chapter Twenty Three: Lost in the Sky

 John rushes off to tell Kantos Kan everything he knows. Instead of decrying John’s complete inability to stay undercover, he is horrified that Dejah agreed to marry Sab Than. Apparently, the very idea of a political marriage or marriage alliance is abhorrent.

 Kantos Kan has no clue of how they can remedy this horrific situation! John states that he’d like to settle the problem by killing Sab Than, but can’t for personal reasons. Kantos realizes that this means John is in love with Dejah. After some discussion, Kantos agrees to kill Sab Than so that John’s way to Dejah will be clear. (Apparently Dejah would be able to marry the guy who arranged to have her fiancé killed but not the guy who actually did the deed. Mars has no lawyers because Martian law makes no sense.)

They immediately set out to kill Sab Than, which John acting as Kantos Kan’s accomplice. (You would that being an accessory or accomplice to murder would be nearly as bad as being the murderer, but apparently not. I am also wondering why Dejah didn’t bother to explain to John about this little loophole. Dejah, why do you have to make everything more complicated than it has to be?)

They escape from Zodanga, but John gets lost.

 Chapter Twenty Four: Tars Tarkus Finds a Friend

 While wandering around lost, John flies over a battle field and is shot down. He is able to land his craft and he sees that Tars Tarkus is fighting off some Warhoons. John immediately goes to Tars Tarkus aid, and they both defeat the last of the Warhoons. Tars is surprised to see John, and immediately expresses his gratitude for the assistance.

 They head back to the city together and John stays in Tars quarters while Tars heads off to a meeting. When he gets back from the meeting, he reports that Tal Hajus knows John is in town. Tars offers to help John get the flock out of Dodge, but John disagrees with this plan. After some more conversation, John implies that he will help Tars find a good reason to challenge Tal Hajus.  Then he tells Sola’s story about her parents. Tars now has a very, very good reason to challenge Tal Hajus.

 Before heading off to see the bloodthirsty tyrant, Tars stops off to pay Sarkoja a visit. We learn that there is a loophole in the Martian law that only women can kill other women and only men can kill other men. Tars threatens to have Sarkoja dragged behind a thoat by her neck to test her suitability to breed if she does not take a permanent vacation down the river Iss.

 They head to the throne room where Tal Hajus tries to have John immediately tied up and executed painfully. However, John declares that he has a right to say his piece. Tal Hajus does not agree with this, but a large number of his people do, among them Lorquas Ptomel. When John gets his chance to speak, he immediately nominates Tars Tarkas for the position of Jeddak of Thark. Everyone thinks this is a great idea, and Tars Tarkus fights Tal Hajus and wins.

Tars immediately confers to John the rank of “chieftan.”  In turn, John immediately proposes that the entire horde ally with Helium and invade Zodanga. Tars thinks this is a wonderful idea, and is able to persuade a few smaller hordes to join in on this campaign. Everyone heads to Zodanga and the horde is somehow able to take the gates of the city (and be camped outside it) without a major alarm being raised. (It is the shortest siege in the history of ever.)

Chapter Twenty Five: The Looting of Zodanga

John and friends manage to take the city gates without the rest of the city knowing. (No, I don’t know how.) John and some of his men make it into the palace where they arrive just in time to interrupt a wedding. Apparently, Kantos Kan was not successful in killing Sab Than. Sab Than, understandably upset at having his wedding ruined runs at John with a knife, but his attack is not successful. John takes him hostage and announces that Zodanga has fallen. The Tharks turn up at the wedding party and everyone starts to fight the Tharks.

(Interesting point: when they realize what’s going on, the Zodangans immediately assume that this is a result of Dejah Thoris’ machinations. It is too bad that Burroughs was not able to make this an accurate statement. While his female characters can occasionally be surprisingly astute given the time they are being written in, Burroughs is not really great at political intrigue or at creating plans that don’t involve someone carving maps of the escape route into the floor.)

At the end of the battle, Sab Than is conveniently dead, and John and Dejah are free to marry.

Chapter Twenty Six: Through Carnage to Joy

The forces of Helium arrive and they help to flatten Zodanga. The Heliumites are really impressed by John’s ability to get the Tharks to do what he says! The jeddak of Helium also thinks John would make the best son-in-law ever.

Chapter Twenty Seven: From Joy to Death

We now skip over nine years of marriage and John being himself to bring you dreadful news! The person in charge of the atmosphere factory was found dead and imminent environmental collapse is approaching! No one really knows what to do about this, so they all decide to live their best until they live their last. As the final hours approach, there are dramatic speeches and declarations.

Then, John suddenly knows how to fix the problem! (You will recall that he knows how to open the doors to the atmosphere plant. You may also recall that he may be technically responsible for this disaster to begin with.) Even though everyone is pretty close to death, they are able to take John to the atmosphere plant. Once there, he is able open the doors, but he blacks out before finding out if anyone was able to make it inside and start the engines back up.

Chapter Twenty Eight: At the Arizona Cave

 John wakes up back on Earth, in the cave. He finds a very disturbing scene involving a number of dessicated corpses. We get no explanation for this scene. As far as I can tell, it is just there to be extremely creepy. The book ends on a melancholy note as John wonders whether the Martians were able to reach the pump room in time. John also states that it is possible he might be able to return to Mars someday.

Part Eight|Reading Page


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