The Barsoom series is based on the expedition of Earthmen to Mars by a mysterious method of transportation that involves astral projection. John Carter an American Civil War veteran travels to Mars, engages in fierce battles for supremacy with various denizens of the Red Planet and falls in love with and marries one of its lovely inhabitants. In Warlord of Mars, the hero, John Carter's mission is to rescue his wife Princess Dejah Thoris who has been imprisoned by the evil Goddess Issus. Carter explores deeper and further into the planet's far flung regions and discovers all manner of fantastic creatures who he has to vanquish to gain the title of Warlord of Mars.
The novel begins with the escape of Tarzan’s archenemy Nikolas Rokoff from prison, who is intent on getting his revenge. The events in the novel are set shortly after Tarzan has settled in to his new life as Lord Greystroke, a married man and father to baby Jack. Just when things seem to have stabilized, Tarzan once again is faced with unease, as his infant son is kidnapped by Rokoff and his henchman Alexis Paulvich. Subsequently, Tarzan follows a trail supposedly leading to the whereabouts of his son, but instead it leads him straight into Rokoff’s trap. Accordingly, Tarzan finds himself imprisoned on a ship bound for the African east coast. At the same time, Jane suspects that Tarzan might be entering a trap and decides to go after her him. Needless to say, things do not go well for her either, as she too is imprisoned aboard the ship and caught up in Rokoff’s mischievous scheme of revenge. Upon reaching a deserted island, Rokoff abandons Tarzan on its shores, while telling him of his plans to leave infant Jack to be raised among cannibals as one of their own. Marooned, Tarzan must join forces with the animal inhabitants of the island in order to safely reunite his family and free them from the evil grasp of Rokoff.
The novel begins as John Carter returns to Barsoom after his involuntary absence of ten years and finds himself in the Valley Dor, or the Barsoomian afterlife from which no one is permitted to leave. However, the Valley Dor is anything but a spiritual haven and instead Carter discovers that it is a ruse, forged by the Therns, a race of self-proclaimed gods. For eons they have deceived Barsoomians into believing that the pilgrimage to the Valley Dor is a journey to paradise, although in reality most visitors are either killed or enslaved by the Therns. Accompanied by friend Tars Tarkas, the pair tries to escape from the place, and are aided by the confusion caused by an attack by the Black Pirates of Barsoom upon the Therns. Taking advantage of the present mayhem, Carter and his accomplices are able to hijack a Black Pirate flier, killing most of the Pirates in the process and saving a Thern captive. Carter learns that the Black Pirates or the “First Born”, also see themselves as gods therefore clarifying their hatred for the Therns. The Red Planet finds itself in a time of crisis, immersed in religious and schismatic conflict, and it is up to Carter to not only participate but maneuver a planetary scale revolution.
This is the fourth of Burrough’s Tarzan novels. Alexis Paulvitch, a henchman of Tarzan’s now-deceased enemy, Nikolas Rokoff, survived his encounter with Tarzan in the third novel and wants to even the score.
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