Michael Moorcock originally wrote the first Michael Kane book under the name Edward P. Bradbury. I read the DAW version of the book back in the 1970s, I think, and the book carried both titles City of the Beast or Warriors of Mars.
I enjoyed the book a lot when I was a kid because it reminded me so much of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter and Carson Napier novels, which I had only recently discovered because Ace had a robust program to republish all those old books.
Michael Kane is a swordsman (happened upon a French master bladesman who trained him) and a physicist (which I actually expected to see more of as the book progressed—I didn’t). The book was initially released in 1965, so we knew more about Mars than Burroughs did back in 1912 when A Princess of Mars was first released. Moorcock sidesteps this by having the matter transmitter throw his hero back in time as well as to Mars.
All the major pieces are there: a princess who Kane can’t quite connect with, a threatening barbarian horde (blue instead of green Tharks), swordplay, fliers, and alien science. Oh yeah, and lots and lots of captures and escapes and fighting.
I hate to admit it, but I’m no longer my innocent younger self (though I can get back to that quite comfortably, thank you). Moorcock is a better writer than Burroughs, and the this book was action-packed and easier to read, but there’s something about John Carter that just makes him stand out. Maybe it was because Burroughs’s Mars was more fleshed out in some ways, and the people were a lot more diverse.
Still, I breezed through City of the Beast/Warriors of Mars in a few hours and enjoyed the experience. Supposedly, Moorcock was asked to write an homage to Burroughs and that’s how these books came about. At the time, though, Lancer was selling Conan books by the truckload and there were Edgar Rice Burroughs books on every spinner rack of every drug store and supermarket I saw. I’m guessing that had a lot to do with it.
You won’t find anything really new here, but the book is a great romp and timeless in its ideas of heroes and villains and fantasy. The sword-and-planet novels remain as comfort food for me as a reader.
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Paizo Inc. (12 August 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1601251041
- ISBN-13: 978-1601251046
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.3 x 20.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 90.7 g
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