Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews City of the Beast or Warriors of Mars [Amazon (1971), Amazon (2007), Publisher, Local Library] by Michael Moorcock, originally published as by Edward P Bradbury, introduction by Kim Mohan.
Well, I can’t say I agree with Michael Moorcock’s dad that the Kane of Old Mars stuff is the author’s best work. Although it’s consciously patterned on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars, the pacing of City of the Beast actually made it read a little bit more like Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race. (If you haven’t read Bulwer-Lytton, it might help to picture Burroughs as the stylistic midpoint between Bulwer-Lytton and Robert E. Howard.) In contrast with both of those earlier authors, though, there was nothing surprising in this novel at all. It almost seemed as if the plot “twists” were executed ironically, since they were foreshadowed so obviously.
I mean, I’m always game for a bit of mostly-naked sword-and-planet, and this was efficiently written. It didn’t take a lot of my time to tear through it, and it gave me some pleasant things to imagine. But it certainly pales beside the original Barsoom of Burroughs, or (better yet) the Barsoom-inspired Mars of Leigh Brackett. Formulaic as it might be, it is a formula I enjoy, so I won’t balk at the subsequent volumes. But I don’t expect brilliance there, if the first is any evidence.