Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Review: The Chessmen of Mars

The Chessmen of Mars The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tara of Helium, young daughter of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, is serious bad-ass, killing rapists and dangerous eunuchs, and mouthing off to anyone who tries to disrespect her. Burroughs was clearly before his time when it came to bad-ass women. This pretty much follows the theme of the previous Mars stories, adventures, battles, meeting strange new Barsoom races, except this time it's Tara, and she is completely lost after being blown across the planet on her flier in a horrific wind storm, much like Dorothy in Oz. Sufficiently interesting and entertaining for a story over 100 years old, although the stilted and flowery prose of the time might be off-putting. Again the strength of the Mars books is the exquisite world building that ERB is so good at with many great examples. The story is not without weaknesses. The male hero, and love interest, goes by three different names, which can be confusing. All of the characters in the main location have names formatted like A-AAA, and similar enough to add to the confusion. It also get a bit repetitive with several capture-rescue set pieces. Pretty good book in the Barsoom series. I give it three stars.

The book is in the public domain and available here.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Review: The First Kothar the Barbarian MEGAPACK®: 3 Sword and Sorcery Novels

The First Kothar the Barbarian MEGAPACK®: 3 Sword and Sorcery Novels

The First Kothar the Barbarian MEGAPACK®: 3 Sword and Sorcery Novels by Gardner F. Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gardner Fox was amazingly prolific, writing thousands of comic books, plus a slew of novels and short stories. During the Sword and Sorcery revival in the 1960s, arguably triggered by Lancer republishing Robert E Howard’s Conan pulp stories, Fox wrote these Kothar Barbarian Swordsman stories. Sure, they’re directive as hell, and would have fit right in with Weird Tales in the 1930s, although that’s no reason to be dismissive. All five of the stories republished in these Wildside Press Megapacks are equally fun and entertaining reads. All clearly following in the Howard school of pulp fiction heroics the stories are action-packed and fast moving with no elements of high fantasy to bog things down. Reminded me a lot of video games or Dungeon and Dragons adventures when the adventurer explores a magical world, encountering monster or supernatural beings, then a final battle with the Big Bad or Boss to conclude. A terrific collection of fun and pulpy stories that are well worth the bargain ebook pricing.

The First Megapack at Wildside Press

The Second Megapack at Wildside Press