As the old saying goes, if you budget is $100m it's a homage, if its $50 it's a rip-off. City of the Beast is a homage to the old Sword and Planet tales of Burroughs and Kline, Brackett and C.L. Moore (and a host of others). Originally titled Warriors of Mars under the name "Edward P Bradbury" when published back in 1965, it probably looked more like rip-off than homage. 45 years later, and with Michael Moorcock a well-known name in the business, it's a bit different.
There is not a lot of point talking about the plot, other than in the broadest terms - earthman is myteriously transported to Mars, fights monsters, meets a girl. The villian is an evil pirate queen who can mesmerise man and beast alike with the power of her mind - and whether this is extreme beauty, magic or some genetic mutation caused by radiation is never made clear. In fact, looking back on that last sentence I may have given the matter more thought than Moorcock did when writing the book. But you know what? That's OK. This is a book that was written to be read and enjoyed, not closely studied, interpreted, deconstructed, and analysed in depth. It's a simple, straightforward adventure story with a few fun flourishes. Its short, punchy and to the point: this is not a multi-volume fantasy epic to fear committing too, it's a one-night stand with a tongue in cheek romp through a fantastic world that never was.