A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars  - Edgar Rice Burroughs, Frank E. Schoonover, Ray Bradbury I certainly never imagined that I'd read anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs -- let alone something entitled "A Princess of Mars" -- but it was on the Coursera Fantasy and Science Fiction reading list along with a lot of good solid classics that I had read, so I was curious.What a surprise! Of course it was full of battle scenes and there isn't an excessive amount of character development and the princess had to have tiny little hands (because who could fall in love with a woman with normal-sized hands?) but the writing was much better than I expected.The frame for the action-adventure story is actually quite melancholic (rather like the Iliad wrapped in a Walter Scott novel) -- it's no accident that the main character is from the American south. The whole thing is quite nicely crafted: it doesn't wander around needlessly; there's a good balance between world building and action; all the characters act according to their characters so they're not just puppets of the plot. One other aspect of the writing that stood out for me was the quality of the descriptions. They're very evocative, many of them (especially when related to nature and landscapes) are quite beautifully done.One unexpected side to the protagonist: he states very clearly that he has no problem killing people but that it's important to be kind to animals. And he acts on this a number of times even though it's not necessary to the plot. What an odd touch for an adventure story. There are quite a number of little surprises like this.All in all, there are a lot of reasons why this book rises above the genre.

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