"The Warlord of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs picks up where "The Gods of Mars" left off. This novel was published from December of 1913 to March of 1914 in "All-Story" as a serial, and then published as a novel in September of 1919. Unlike "A Princess of Mars", neither "The Gods of Mars" nor "The Warlord of Mars" can easily stand alone. The former volume ends in a cliff-hanger, and this novel relies on the reader knowing what is going on. Also, it is to the benefit of the reader to start with the first in the series to have a complete background for the entire story, though one could probably get by without it.
Unlike the first two books of the series, this one does not open with a forward in which the author presents the fantastic tale as true, but that undoubtedly is due to the fact that the story was left with a rather abrupt ending in the previous book. As with the previous installments of the series, there is plenty of action, and more than a few amazing coincidences, where John Carter just happens to be in the right spot at the right time to overhear a key piece of information, but in many ways that is what adds to the fun.
Burroughs continues to take the reader on a trek around the Red Planet. After covering the dead seas and meeting the Red and Green Martians in the first book, and then heading to the south pole in the second book to meet the White and Black Martians, it is not too big of surprise that in this book he heads to the polar north, and there we find yet another race, the Yellow Martians, and along with them a host of new enemies, and some new allies as well. There are also some new monsters to be faced in the north.
The story is basically one big chase seen, starting with John Carter following a Thurid, a black dator. Thurid had sworn fealty to Xodar, but John Carter knew that Thurid had a great deal of hatred for him and so was suspicious. His suspicions, prove to be well founded, as he learns that Thurid is conspiring with Matai Shang, the Father of the Therns, another enemy. From spying on them, he learns that there is a way to rescue his beloved Dejah Thoris who was imprisoned at the end of "The Gods of Mars." And so it goes, with John Carter always seemingly one step away from recovering his beloved, as he follows them from the south pole, to Kaol, to the frozen north, where the lands of the hidden Yellow Martians lie. It is there, where John Carter finally is able to face his foes, both in personal combat, as well as a battle of armies between his allies and those of his enemies.
As with the previous books in the series, there are times when the reader is far ahead of John Carter as to what is going on, but as with the amazing coincidences it is part of the fun of reading these stories. These books make for great light escapist reading, and are far better at what they do then so much of what has been written by others since. Burroughs simply has a knack for telling an entertaining tale, and it is oh so easy for the reader to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. This installment meets the expectations set in the first two books of the series.