I made a decision a few years back to mix some of the classics that I had missed along the way with the current titles I read. As I have noted before, somehow I totally overlooked the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. So I have been working my way through this series and have completed the fifth of Burroughs’ “Barsoom” books.
“The Chessmen of Mars” follows the adventures of the headstrong daughter of John Carter and Dejah Thoris who flies away in her flyer one evening and becomes lost in a sandstorm of epic proportions. When she comes to rest, Tara, Princess of Helium, finds herself marooned beside a strange city peopled by even stranger creatures who have evolved into two distinct types of humanity — Kaldanes and Rykors. One being nearly all brain the other being all physical body, purely instinct and no higher brain function. The two share a symbiotic relationship.
It is up to Gahan, Jed of the city of Gathol, — who became separated from the rescue party during their search — to assist Tara in her escape. Their eventual getaway lands them in an ancient and even more savage city. In this city the Barsoomian board game of Jetan is played out by warriors who are forced to fight to the death for control of each space. As usual in Burroughs’ stories, they add new characters and beings to their entourage along the way. This enjoyable installment is well worth the read. Like the rest of the series, it twists your mind and forces you to think. It is amazing just how well this Science Fiction series holds up despite the first installment being one hundred years old.