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The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom, #5)
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The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom #5)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  4,245 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Pawn of Blood

Held captive by grotesque bodiless heads, Princess Tara of Helium was rescued by a warrior who dared not reveal his name. But escape led the daughter of the Warlord of Mars into even more loathsome peril - as the prize in a bloody game of living chess.

Cover art by Michael Whelan
Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 1979 by Ballantine Books (first published 1922)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matt
Depending on my mood, this is either my favorite or second favorite of the Barsoom books. As with my other favorite, 'A Fighting Man of Mars', the hero of the story isn't that veritable demigod Virginian, John Carter, but a native Martian - in this case Gahan the Jed (or King) of Gathol - a small but very prosperous city state. The story concerns Gahan's attempts to woo the young daughter of John Carter, Tara, who rebuffs Gahan because he does not seem to her to be modest, rugged, and martial en ...more
James
With the fifth book in the Barsoom series, much like Burroughs ability to recycle his stories, I thought I could just repost my review of book four – Thuvia, Maid of Mars – as it pretty much still applies to this novel too. Burroughs again recycles his damsel in distress (of course she's gorgeous), his introduction of two new species of Barsoomians (surprisingly close to Helium to have gone unnoticed), the courageous rescue (by a spurned suitor). It could, again, so easily be the same novel with ...more
Sandy
"The Chessmen of Mars," Edgar Rice Burroughs' 5th John Carter novel out of 11, first appeared in serial form in the magazine "Argosy All Story Weekly" from February to April 1922. It is easily the best of the Carter lot to this point; the most detailed, the most imaginative, and the best written. Carter himself only appears at the beginning and end of the tale. Instead, our action heroes are his daughter, Tara, who gets lost in a rare Barsoomian storm while joyriding in her flier and blown halfw ...more
Ron
I give up. Burrough's Barsoom series has devolved into a Captain-Bill's-Whiz-Bang stories of the simple sensationalism, appropriate at best for adolescent boys.

Even though I have several more editions in my Nook, I doubt if I'll read them soon.

A waste of time and electrons--at least the trees were spared.
Kent
A pretty darn good one in the Mars series. I felt Thuvia, Maid of Mars was a little lacking, but this one makes up for that. This one, again, does not focus on John Carter, but rather his daughter Tara, which he suddenly has. She gets captured by the Kaldanes, which are spider-like creatures and can attach themselves to these headless human bodies, called rykors, and control them for their own use. She also gets captured by the Manatorians, which are the chess players; but they play using real p ...more
Morilyn
My Grandfather owned a copy of this book & he offered it to me to read when I was @ home sick with measles over 50 years ago. It was my introduction to that mystifying & magical world of Science Fiction. Thus began my lifelong love of all things "other worlds" written, filmed, on TV... Amazing author, story & grandfather!
Brent
On our trip to Mars this time, we find more lost and forgotten cities, one of which is inhabited by some of the most disturbing creatures ever to be described on paper. Along with great Burroughs style adventure, and classic characters. Well played Mr. Burroughs, well played.
Dave
“The Chessmen of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs is the fifth book in the Barsoom series. After “Thuvia, Maid of Mars” was something of a disappointment, this installment may be the best of the series. As with the prior book, this one focuses on different characters than any of the earlier books in the series, this time the focus is John Carter’s daughter Tara, and Gahan, the Jed of Gathol. The story was originally published as a serial in “Argosy All-Story Weekly” in the February 18th, 25th, Marc ...more
Derek
On one hand, I'm relieved that Burroughs was willing to at least advance the story by focusing on the slightly more interesting next generation. On the other, the plot falls squarely into the well-grooved tire tracks of the previous books: the protagonists are lost far from home and fall into various perilous lost cities and civilizations.

I did like that Tara of Helium was at some level the main character, which puts her in a more dynamic position than Dejah Thoris had been, and at some level sh
...more
Thom Swennes
To categorize this narrative as science fiction (as it is often referred to as) would, in my opinion, be erroneous as no science is involved. A more fitting genre would be fantasy or maybe to be more unambiguous, action fantasy. Tara, the daughter of John Carter the Virginian visitor to Mars that has graced many of Burroughs’ stories with his action-packed presence, goes out on a joy ride in her flying machine and is caught in a terrible storm. This storm blows her craft to unknown parts of the ...more
Mary Catelli
In which John Carter has only a bit part. His daughter Tara -- newly introduced for the work -- has center stage, as does the jeddak of Gathol, Gahan, who meets her af her father's house -- and doesn't impress her.

Also, the man her father wants her to marry does not get her for a dance, because he had asked another woman first. Between the two of them, she goes flying to relieve her spirits, and gets caught in a windstorm.

Gahan goes to help with the search, gets torn from his ship, and through a
...more
Joseph
One of my two favorite Barsoom books outside of the initial trilogy. (The other being A Fighting Man of Mars.) Again it's in third person, allowing for different points of view. This time, though, we get a proper John Carter prologue/intro explaining how ERB obtained the manuscript. Very similar to Thuvia, Maid of Mars in structure (lone warrior goes off after missing princess, encounters lost cities and perils and (SPOILER!) gets the girl in the end) but there just seems to be a spark here that ...more
Marcus M.
If you have ever watched the show: DOCTOR WHO, I can tell you that one of that series' most iconic villains was heavily influenced by some of the creatures in this JOHN CARTER novel. The beasts in this story are a group of small, cepholopodic/ crusteacius heads called Kaldanes, who are totally lacking in emotions of any kind, posess an unnaturally high level of intelligence and who use completely seporate bodies to move around.
Of course, I'm saying that these guys are basically Daleks without
...more
Ivan
I think this book caught me off guard. The last book from this collection was good but not as good as its predecesors. So when I started The Chessmen of Mars, I still had the bittersweet taste of Thuvia, Maid of Mars. In the beginning, it was kind of boring, giving a look of a little presumptous girl as she inherited all the Glory of the Warlord of Barsoom. I think she was a careless, selfish and a swagger.
But then, as she was lost in a far away place in Barsoom, the book made me feel anxiety,
...more
Kat
Tara of Helium had a little more to do than most of Burroughs' ladies, but about halfway through the book she basically vanishes from the plot and becomes the Macguffin in constant need of rescuing. The adventure was good, and I shouldn't complain too loudly, given when the book was written, but it would have been cool to see the heroine front and center through the whole thing (especially since Gahan of Gathol was kind of a derp who just flailed around waiting for everybody else to tell him whe ...more
Angus Whittaker
I downloaded this book from booksshouldbefree.com (which I recommend, even though some of the readers stink) and got out of it pretty much what I expected to: it was another entertaining, if overly dramatic/romantic, Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp fiction novel. Having read several books from all three series, I definitely like the Barsoom Series much better than the Tarzan series or Caspak series. The Barsoom novels all share in common a few things: a hot princess, a hot prince, monsters, rescues, w ...more
Bill Zodanga
Please note, this 5 star rating is based on my long ago memories of this book - I may have read it greater than 20 years ago. I recall reading and really liking it, and even kept the book to read again in the future (something I only do with good, or otherwise significant books). The memories of an old man are sometimes faulty so this could really only warrant 3.5 to 4.5 stars, instead of the 5 I gave it. Once I re-read the book I will update this rating/review to more accurately reflect my thou ...more
Deepak Menon
And extraordinary fantasy by Edgar Rice Burroughs - a story based on the divorce of the Intellect From the Physical - two species evolve - one physically strong but devoid of any brain function except the basic functions of eating, breathing and toiletry, while the other species latches on to their spinal cord and sits like a brain on them, guiding them to do all their work while themselves getting their pleasure only from thinking!
A great book for a 14 year old to read and I never forgot this b
...more
Mary
Out of all the John Carter books I think I enjoyed this one the best.
Burroughs introduced a couple pretty strange Barsoom creatures in this story, the Kaldanes, and the Rykors. Two separate creatures but dependent on one another.
The story was kind of halloweenish in one regard with the horrible looking Kaldanes and other events that involve superstitious fear of the Manatarians.
The story also has a philosophical aspect of maintaining a healthy balance between mind and body.



Rob
Another wildly imaginative story from Edgar Rice Burroughs. I'm amazed at the fanastical ideas he comes up with each story. Although sometimes contrived the events in the story are fun to read. What impresses me most is the creativity behind each book in this series. Each story is usually about some kine of near war with another nation on Mars, it's the journey and the details of the outcome for those events that make the books entertaining and enjoyable stories.
Marts  (Thinker)
In this the 5th of John Carter's continuing adventures, Tara, Princess of Helium and Carter's daughter is captured...
Larry Page
Part of a rather strange Sci-Fi series with a cast of unbeliveablely strange creatures with confusing names.
We must remember that at the time there was widespread belief that there was life on Mars so it is not suprising that it was quite popular in the 1920s and considered by some to be a must read. However, IMHO it just doesn't fare well in the test of time. I must say that Mr. Burroughs had a fertile and impressive imagination and even invented a playable Martian version of chess, the rules o
...more
Bill Hohl
Just as good as the first 4!
Jeff Stockett
This was another fun installment in the world of Barsoom. Once again, the hero is not John Carter. The main character is his daughter Tara. Tara, as it turns out, is a spoiled brat. At the beginning of the book I really didn't like her. Then as the book went on it turned out that she was stupid in addition to being spoiled.

But, luckily, she is not the "hero" of the book. The hero is Gahan of Gathol. He turns out to be super awesome and likable. He follows Tara across the planet in an attempt to
...more
Rygo Quinlan
This volume in the Mars series follows the adventures of Tara of Helium, daughter of John Carter aka the Warlord of Mars. She gets lost in a single-person flier during a storm and ends up in captivity in a faraway city. Gahan of Gathol, who admired her back in her home town of Helium but was rebuffed, gets another chance. He disguises himself as a lowly mercenary or Panthan called Turan and fights to save Tara in the deadly games held in the city of Manator. (She doesn't recognise him as Gahan.) ...more
Sherri
If you saw the 2012 movie John Carter then you know about John Carter the human that makes it to Mars and falls in love with Deja Thoris. This book is about John Carter and Dejah Thoris' daughter Tara, and her escapades in the wild lands of Mars.

Tara attends a ball at her father's palace and meets Gahan of Gathol who is a prince or a Jed. She is unimpressed with him and snubs him at the ball, especially since she is to wed another.

Some very bad winds come up the next morning after the ball and d
...more
Lindsay
What is there to say about Burroughs' novel? It's no literary masterpiece, it's plots are quite card-board cutout similar to his previous novels, his female characters disrespect over their hero's are vexing--the whole "I love you! I hate you!" back and forth. But, the guy is brilliant.
Most of you are going--WHA? Well, granted all the prior statements are true I still love Burroughs--he is simply a FUN writer. Sure, his books thus far have been pretty repetitive in a sense of plot but he weaves
...more
Robert Saunders
These were considered "planetary romances" according to one source back when this series from the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, was written. This series of about 10 books started in 1912 and culminated around 1948. There's an odd mention of a book in 1964, but the other had been dead for 14 years by then. Plus there are a few shorts published in some pulp periodicals of the 1940s (where many of these stories appeared in years prior).

Today we call this stuff sci-fi, but it's quite diff
...more
Eero
The kaldanes and their rykors are among the more interesting ERB's inventions. How neat it would be to have a detachable body! Of course the point of them is to poke fun at people who place a too high value on pure intellect, by literally separating the brain from the body. I don't think this kind of symbiosis is as terribly far-ferched as many other details of the Mars books, although I don't really buy the idea that kaldanes don't need air.

The story is a huge improvement over the previous one,
...more
wally
#18 from burroughs, edgar rice, for me...i've read the other 4 in this series...this being the 5th, kindle version. when all else fails, free books downloaded to the kindle are tough to beat. #3 & # 4 had some surprisingly vivid imagery, scenery, it shakes, it bakes, it twists and turns, given the time in which they were written, so...we'll see how it goes.

story begins:
prelude
john carter comes to earth

shea had just beaten me at chess, as usual, and, also as usual, i had gleaned what question
...more
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Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.
More about Edgar Rice Burroughs...
A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1) Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1) The Gods of Mars (Barsoom, #2) The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3) The Land That Time Forgot (Caspak, #1-3)

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“Fortunate indeed are those in which there is combined a little good and a little bad, a little knowledge of many things outside their own callings, a capacity for love and a capacity for hate, for such as these can look with tolerance upon all, unbiased by the egotism of him whose head is so heavy on one side that all his brains run to that point.” 11 likes
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