Encyclopedia Barsoomia Wiki

A Princess of Mars is the first novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian series, originally published under the pseudonym Norman Bean. Presented as a book of memoirs by protagonist John Carter, it relates the story of how he arrived on Mars, became a hero to its people, and won the heart of the beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris of Helium. It was originally published as a serial titled "Under the Moons of Mars".


The story starts with John Carter as a successful gold prospector in Arizona. One day in 1866 he sends his business partner James K. Powell into town to pick up new equipment. As the day wears on, however, he begins to have a terrible feeling that Powell has met with some bad luck, and goes out to search for him. He finds Powell dead, having been killed by a hostile tribe of Apaches who chase after Carter. He seeks refuge in a cave and shortly thereafter falls asleep. When he wakes up he is unable to move and becomes aware that he's not alone in the cave. He desperately tries to break his paralysis and suddenly finds himself naked and looking down at his own body, still lying immobile on the floor of the cave. Panicked, he runs outside and sees Mars in the night sky. He reaches out his arms to the distant planet and suddenly feels himself pulled through space.

He ends up on Mars, called "Barsoom" by its inhabitants. Carter finds that he has great strength and superhuman agility in this new environment as a result of its lesser gravity. He soon falls in with a nomadic tribe of Green Martians, or Tharks, as the planet's warlike, six-limbed, green-skinned inhabitants are known. Thanks to his strength and martial prowess, Carter rises to a high position in the tribe and earns the respect and eventually the friendship of Tars Tarkas, one of the Thark chiefs.

The Tharks subsequently capture Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, a member of the humanoid Red Martian race. The Red Martians inhabit a loose network of city-states and control the desert planet's canals, along which its agriculture is concentrated. Carter rescues Dejah Thoris from the Green men in a bid to return her to her people.

Subsequently Carter becomes embroiled in the political affairs of both the Red and Green Martians in his efforts to safeguard Dejah Thoris. During his adventures he is captured by another Green Martian tribe known as the Warhoons, finds the Atmosphere Factory, and eventually leads a horde of Tharks against the city-state of Zodanga, the historic enemy of Helium. Winning Dejah Thoris' hand, he becomes a Prince of Helium, and the two live happily together for nine years. However, the sudden breakdown of the Atmosphere Factory that sustains the planet's waning air supply endangers all life on Barsoom. In a desperate attempt to save the planet's inhabitants, Carter uses a secret telepathic code that he learned during his previous visit to the factory to enter the building, bringing an engineer along who can restore its functionality. Carter then succumbs to asphyxiation, only to awaken back on Earth, left to wonder what has become of Barsoom and his beloved.

Film Adaptations[]

A Princess of Mars (2009)[]

A Princess of Mars (2009) was the first live-action adaptation of A Princess of Mars (1917). It was a straight-to-video film and was made by Asylum Films to capitalize on the success of James Cameron's Avatar (2009).

John Carter (2012)[]

John Carter (2012) is the second live-action adaptation of A Princess of Mars (1917). While this adaptation was closer to the original source material than A Princess of Mars (2009), it was the biggest box office bomb in history due to poor advertising and/or that the source material had been used highly in other science-fiction works.


External Links[]