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Volume 5352

THE MARTIAN LEGION: In Quest of Xonthron
Reviews II

Richard A. Lupoff
Robert Brown
Laurence G. Dunn
Mike Conran
Jack and Carole Bender
Martin Powell
James F. Thompson

Richard A. Lupoff
Look here, I intended to be cool and objective about this book. I mean, I’m supposed to be the Great Authority on Edgar Rice Burroughs. I never claimed that title, but others seem determined to stick me with it. So okay, I thought I’d say a few mildly complimentary words about The Martian Legion in Quest of Xanthron and go downstairs for lunch. Wow, was I ever wrong! I’ve never seen or read anything like this astonishing book.

First of all, it’s huge. You could wallop a burglar over the head with it and then call the cops to haul his unconscious body away. More to the point, it’s gorgeous. Everything about it, starting with the photo-like cover of the Old Man himself smiling benevolently upon an assemblage of his famous creations. Then the end papers, a splendid updatinig of the late Larry Ivie’s classic 1962 map of Barsoom. Third, the copious breathtaking illustrations that make this book come alive in your hands. Time after time I found myself riveted by a marvelous character sketch or action scene.

And after coming to terms with the magnificent production, there’s Jake Saunders’ prodigious novel. Like everything else in this book, it's larger than life. Vast stretches of glorious adventure and dazzling imagery. Saunders not only brings Ed Burroughs himself back to life, he fills the chapters with the cast of Burroughs’ Martian saga, tying in Burroughs’ other creations as introduced in the Tarzan and Pellucidar and Venus cycles.
Plus an array of dynamic figures from the pulps and comic strips: Doc Savage, the Shadow, even Alley Oop. V. T. Hamlin’s Neanderthal Alley Oop and his girlfriend Oola. And did I mention the appendixes, filled with Burroughsiana? Page after page of amazing research.

Here’s my plan: Whatever it takes, snag a copy of this book right away. Before the edition sells out, which I expect it will do, pronto! Don’t wait, because once the copies are gone this thing is going to start escalating in price until it makes your head spin. Take a leave of absence from your job, hole up in your study with a hamper full of sandwiches and a case of brandy, and be prepared to live this book for the next month. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never be the same, and you’ll never regret it, either!

Richard A. Lupoff is the author of two dozen novels and more than 40 short stories, and has edited many science-fantasy anthologies. He is indeed considered the “Great Authority” on the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs, having edited many ERB novels while at Canaveral Press, and written Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure, published in 1965.

Robert Brown
Something totally new in a Tarzan and John Carter adventure but comfortably familiar in tone and style.  That’s the first thing I’d say about The Martian Legion, but certainly not the last.  This is a book that staggers you with the lavishness, the pure beauty of its binding and printing; complete with its stunning box, it is an incredible work of art.  But more than a remarkably beautiful book with incredible art, it is a wonderful story.  As amazing as it sounds, the Shadow, Doc Savage, Carson Napier, Alley Oop, and their associates all blend perfectly into the action-packed story of Tarzan and John Carter on Mars. I cannot remember having more fun with a novel. It kept me completely enthralled.  To put it mildly, this is a “ripping good yarn.”
Robert Brown, longtime ERB fan and collector

Laurence G. Dunn
I have to say that I had trouble putting The Martian Legion down each evening as I knew I had to go to bed at some point. I could hardly wait until I got home from work each evening to continue reading, not because I had a deadline, but because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through.

In The Martian Legion, Barsoom is facing its greatest threat and not even the Warlord of Mars can save it on his own. With the help of his nephew and a few extraordinary men that may not be everyone’s first choice of a ‘dream team’ of heroes, together they meet this new challenge.

Beautifully illustrated and bound in leather, this huge volume is filled with adventure, danger, escapism and excitement in non-stop action from beginning to end. Though the book tells the story through many of its characters, what is interesting and may even have taken the author by surprise, is that the reader finds he is eager to follow the exploits of a completely new character and how his ‘education’ develops in comparison to his famous sire. And for those that love Woola, they will fall head over heels for a calot named Blot.

It was a real pleasure turning each page as I progressed and finding yet another work of art. By the way, I liked the way the thern princess Phaidor developed. It was nice to see her make a comeback.

If this book has a downside is its pure size that works for and against it. The full page illustrations are gorgeous, but it needs to be read at a table rather than an easy chair as it is cumbersome to hold. (A pillow in your lap solves the problem. Buddy) That aside, the book is well written, fast paced and come the end, the reader will want to reach for the next volume.

Laurence G. Dunn, Chairman for the Burroughs Bibliophiles 2005-2012

Mike Conran
Barsoom's atmosphere plant is again failing and the surviving Holy Therns are attempting to use this disaster to re-establish their religion and gain control. Only Xonthron, a book lost for thousands of years, contains the necessary information for repairing the failing plant. John Carter assembles the Martian Legion—a diverse cast of heroes and adventurers—to find the book before the therns do. Each member of the Legion provides a unique talent, all contributing toward the search for the fabled book that will save Barsoom.

Be prepared to explore a vast new world as the Martian Legion travels to places heretofore unexplored on Burroughs’ Barsoom.

When reading the appendixes, take note of the familiar names from the early years of Burroughs fandom.

Upon receiving this incredible leather bound book, among the first things I noticed was how heavy it is. It is a large book (11¼” X 12¼” X 1½”) with 130 beautiful illustrations by Tom Grindberg, Michael Hoffman and Craig Mullins. There are three double-page spreads, 21 full page illustrations, and 106 spot illustrations.

The story is an exciting adventure that will return you to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom.

Mike Conran has edited ERB fanzines over the years and has attended and the annual Dum-Dums regularly for decades.

Jack and Carole Bender
We've immersed ourselves in this magnificent volume. It's just like reading Burroughs!  Jake (Buddy) Saunders has done a fine job of recreating the Burroughs mood and style for his beautiful and fascinating coffee-table sized book, The Martian Legion.  We are pleased that he chose our Alley Oop characters to play key roles along with the likes of Tarzan and The Shadow.  He perfectly has captured the personalities of each.  We’re sure V. T. Hamlin would have been pleased, too!
Jack and Carole Bender, Artists and writer, The Alley Oop comic strip

Martin Powell
This beautiful, coffee table-sized volume is an adventurous joy to experience. From its elegantly rendered thoat and banth leather binding, to the extraordinary quarter-million-word tale within. The reader is not only reacquainted with Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars, but also other Burroughs creations who never met in the original ERB canon. But, that's not all. Non-ERB personalities such as Doc Savage, The Shadow, and—extraordinarily enough—the comic strip caveman Alley Oop (!) are also featured players.

One of my favorite lines, which I never dreamed I'd read in a licensed novel: “The Shadow will go to Mars," gave me chills. If that's not enough, The Martian Legion: In Quest of Xonthron is lavishly illustrated by a virtual who's who of contemporary ERB artists. This is the ideal Edgar Rice Burroughs collectible for the holidays. Highly Recommended.

Martin Powell has the distinction of having written for more of Edgar Rice Burroughs' characters than any other contemporary writer.  His ERB weekly online comic strips can be found at:

James F. Thompson
My review copy of The Martian Legion: In Quest of Xonthron is one of the 3,000 Friends of Barsoom editions, bound in thoat leather.  The book is well constructed with a handsome layout.  The art is uniformly excellent and the full and double page pieces are spectacular.  Hoffman and Grindberg continue the style of art that Burroughs fans connect to the tradition of Frank Frazetta, Roy G. Krenkel, and Thomas Yeates.  Mullins' work reminds me more of the elegant painterly approach of Frank Schooner, with more static formal compositions and use of light.

Within The Martian Legion’s twenty chapters are 131 footnotes, many of them valuable to new readers unfamiliar with the Burroughs canon.  Additional background material is provided in eleven lettered appendices.
My assignment requires me “to avoid spoilers,” so I shall say little about the plot or major events of The Martian Legion.  I do want to comment about the many strengths and few minor weaknesses of the novel.

Saunders is a fine writer, carrying me along multiple character arcs that drive his epic tale.  He vividly depicts Barsoom as I remember it.  Saunders is certainly not attempting to "ape" Burroughs' style (pun intended), but he has a strong voice of his own.  His vocabulary and dialog are appropriate to different times and places and to protagonists from other worlds.  The lack of slang and anachronisms is welcome.  His novel does not have as much humor or satire as a Burroughs novel.

Saunders delivery of action and adventure scenes is more than competent and kept me engaged throughout the entire novel.  Saunders has taken some liberties with some of Burroughs's characters and settings.  These liberties have not interfered with my enjoyment.  Saunders has established from the outset that his story is set in an alternate universe, thus using current scientific theory to justify plot elements, something Burroughs also did.

I enjoyed Saunders's development of some of Burroughs’s minor characters, such as Korak, Meriem, Ghek and Kar Komak, giving them more important roles.  Saunders has also created new characters, including additional children for Tarzan and John Carter.  Saunders introduces two new characters, one from Earth and one from Barsoom, who are thrown together and, after some initial misunderstandings, begin to develop a romantic relationship.

One of the first things that struck me about The Martian Legion:  In Quest of Xonthron and one of my favorite aspects of Saunders’s novel, is that the plot is driven by the resurgence of the Therns and their attempt to establish a new religion with which to again dominate Barsoomian civilization.  The introduction of an elaborate false religion and the efforts to destroy it are pure Burroughs and I am very pleased that has been the main plot arc provided by Saunders.

If you are a fan of art illustrating Burroughs's characters and locales, you will want The Martian Legion for the art program alone!  If you are a fan of fiction involving some Burroughsian characters and locales, you would want The Martian Legion for the story, even if there were no art program!  This is a book every Burroughs fan and collector will want to read and add to his personal library.

 James F. Thompson of Clarksville, TN, is a life long and second generation fan of the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs, a member of The Burroughs Bibliophiles for half a century and currently a member of its Board, an author contributor to a variety of Burroughs fanzines, and founder and list manager of the ERBCOF-List discussion listserv.

Full Content Description and
Ordering Information at:
Martian Legion Intro
Reviews 1
Reviews 2
Reviews 3
Unpacking the Book and Collectibles


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