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4.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten Martian adventure, 2 Dec. 2010
Manly Reading (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Swordsman of Mars is a 1930's sword and planet story by Otis Adelbert Kline, who wrote a lot of this stuff back in the day. His ouvre was primarily based on Venus - Planet of Peril, et al - in contrast to Burroughs' John Carter of Mars novels. So why is this set on Mars...and why did Burroughs write some stories set on Venus...who knows, but the rumors of a feud between the two were probably wrong, and a little publicity never hurt anyone. There is a good introduction by Micheal Moorcock giving us a useful look at Kline, and some background. So, for all that, is Swordsman of Mars any good? Yes.

Harry Thorne, penniless and broken hearted - or rather his consciousness - is sent to Mars by way of "thought-transference" developed by an American scientist, to exchange bodies with a young Prince of Mars. This attempt at "science" may seem laughable today, but really, how he gets to Mars is as relevant as Alice going through the looking glass, except that it explains why he can't jump like he's on a trampoline, and why people think he's someone else. Its what he does once he is there that is relevant.

His mission is to track down another Earthman sent to Mars, a criminal, and to defeat a tyrannical dictator that rules with an steely fist. From this the usual adventures follow - fleeing for one's life, pretty Martian girls (in fact, Thorne finds himself in something of a love triangle; luckily - if somewhat predictably - it is two girls and him) an antogonist to be defeated, strange Martain beasts, etc - and Thorne must use all his wit and strength to avoid death and disaster. There are sieges and battles, all proceeding at a gripping pace.

Kline writes with force, and this is as good as Burroughs' tales of Mars, if set in a distinctly different world. There is nothing "new" here, in one sense, but simply a story well told to sweep along the reader.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: The Swordsman of Mars (Paperback)
Edgar Rice Burroughs success with the Barsoom stories virtually launched the sub genre of what were known as plantary romances and spawned many imitators, one of which was Otis Adelbert Kline.

Harry Thorne is down on his luck disinheritred by his rich family and unemployed This worsened when his fiancee elopes with his best friend and he accepts a proposition from a mysterious professor to travel to Mars. No sooner has he arrived thanhe's in trouble and makes enemies. From then on it's a roller coaster ride of swordplay, captures and escapes from all manner of situations.

Serialised in Argosy magazine the story is written with an economy or words and is very fast paced. The characterisation is what is expected from a 1930's story and some modern readers may find the protagonists steroptyped, though the female leads do break the mould.

While Burroughs novels had some recognisable landscapes they were also alien, invoking a sense of awe wonder and mystery. Kline's Mars though having strange fauna, does not have the same atmosphere and the locations could easily have been set on Earth.

However this book is worth buying and enjoyed as a piece of escapist fun and reading it again after nearly forty years I enjoyed it immensely.
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The Swordsman of Mars
The Swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline (Paperback - 1 Jan. 2009)
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