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The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom #5)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,443 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Impetuous and headstrong, Tara, Princess of Helium and daughter of John Carter, defies the elements by flying into a rare, fierce Martian storm. Hurtled half a planet from her home she is threatened by grotesque, flesh eating monsters and barbarous warriors.
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Tantor Media (first published 1922)
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Jul 22, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 22, 2011 Sandy rated it it was amazing
"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
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
Mar 24, 2012 Ron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Powder River Rose
Burroughs wrote some very good books and I'm pleased to have read them. I think there are a couple more in the series but they are not available in audio so I likely will never get to them. John Carter's daughter Princess Tara is carried away by the wind to the land of heads that separate from their bodies and then on to a deadly chess game. The narrator Gene Engene is not bad and has a great sci-fi voice but his character voices never stay pure; they interchange a lot.

It was a nice intro for h
May 05, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it
“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
Jul 21, 2012 Kent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 14, 2014 Morilyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
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!
Feb 19, 2014 Brent rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 28, 2016 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sword-and-planet
Great fun; I'm not quite sure why it took me so long. Once again Burroughs' vast imagination is on display, as he creates another pair of lost civilizations on Barsoom. The first is a symbiosis where the brains have become separate creatures from their bodies. The second is a human-taxidermy obsessed culture with an entire underworld of secret passages and haunted areas in its capital. My main quibble is this: The whole premise of the series is that John Carter, who is from Earth - or at least h ...more
May 12, 2010 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sword-and-planet
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
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
Jun 12, 2012 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 17, 2012 Marcus M. rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 22, 2012 Ivan rated it it was amazing
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,
May 28, 2013 Kat rated it liked it
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
Noel Coughlan
May 30, 2016 Noel Coughlan rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
Again, John Carter himself is mercifully in the background. Again, the book concentrates on a couple. Tara is daughter of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. I’m intrigued as to where her name comes from. Given that her brother is called Carthoris, shouldn’t she be called Dejohn? Gahan, the jed (chief) of Gathol, loves her though she is engaged to another. (Sound familiar?) When she is lost while flying in a storm, Gahan sets out to rescue her.

This time, we go to two places nobody ever leaves: the lan
Angus Whittaker
Apr 21, 2014 Angus Whittaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I downloaded this book from (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
Mar 06, 2010 Bill Zodanga rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 09, 2012 Deepak Menon rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 05, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Mar 29, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it
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.
Àlvar Mercadé Ibáñez
El autor Edgar Rice Burroughs repite la misma fórmula que usó en el anterior libro Thuvia, Maid of Mars: poner a John Carter en la nevera y usar de protagonista a uno de sus hijos; en este caso a su hija.

El argumento no dista mucho de su novela predecesora, aunque ésta novela que hoy terminé de leer, mejora a su predecesora ya que en ésta contiene algunas situaciones humorísticas, mención de honor para el personaje de Ghek el kaldane y las escenas que tienen lugar en relación al dormitorio de O
Jan 11, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp, sci-fi
Burroughs was actually a very diverse storyteller, though that's certainly not the impression you'd get from reading the JOHN CARTER series. It's a little shocking how often Burroughs recycled the same basic storyline: beautiful princess is captured by a previously unknown alien race, dashing hero falls in love with her at first sight, hero rushes to save her, hero is captured, hero escapes, princess melts in his arms, the calvary arrives just in the nick of time, the end. THE CHESSMEN OF MARS r ...more
Apr 04, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started this, I didn't think I would like it as much as I did.
It begins with John Carter back on Earth in his Martian garb, telling his son on Earth (a character not previously mentioned), a story about his Mars born daughter (another character not mentioned in other volumes).

I won't go into the plot overmuch, but he does introduce the most gruesome creatures yet encountered on Barsoom. The Kaldane are large heads that have spider like legs and pincers, that use the Rykor, headless bodie
Aug 01, 2015 Sailorx rated it did not like it
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An Odd1
Jan 04, 2015 An Odd1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

Scary. This time girl takes lead. Horrid opponents. Surprise help.

Helium Princess Tara's flyer caught in storm, lands in Bantoom, where "kaldanes" crawl and wiggle into headless "rykors". Helpful keldane Ghek likes singing of Tara, frees her from hypnotic power of King Ludd. Suitor rich proud Gahan of Gathol, expert swordsman, wins her love as 'Turan', mercenary panthan.

Extravagant repetitive blather about sun "flaming lover .. hot Lothario" and moons "c
Benjamin Elliott
This is the last of the Barsoom novels that is currently available in the public domain it appears. It also seemed to be much longer than the others that I have read. I think the page numbers back this up, but some of the sections seem to drag a little bit as well. You almost get two distinct books with the sections in Bantoom and Manator, but that isn't unique to this book.
In terms of a more broad look at the strengths and weaknesses of the series to this point, there are definitely some of bot
This novel is worlds away from the first four in the series. I really enjoyed this one, and in particular I enjoyed the protagonist Tara. She may have been a bit of a snot at times, but for 1922 she was an amazing heroine. She stabbed three men through the chest over the course of this story, and stuffed one in a closet with the help of another young woman.

For once the male protagonist didn't steal the entire story, and half his rescues failed and needed Tara to take care of things, which I appr
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Barsoom (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)
  • The Gods of Mars (Barsoom, #2)
  • The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3)
  • Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Barsoom, #4)
  • The Master Mind of Mars (Barsoom, #6)
  • A Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom, #7)
  • Swords of Mars (Barsoom, #8)
  • Synthetic Men of Mars (Barsoom, #9)
  • Llana of Gathol (Barsoom, #10)
  • John Carter of Mars (Barsoom, #11)

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