I am reading this series of books preparatory to seeing the "John Carter" film that comes out in March. My husband is very excited about it, as he read these books in his youth, and I figured I had best catch up in order to understand the subtext.This book started out very slowly for me, with a great deal of purple Edwardian-era prose that threatened to put me to sleep. John Carter and his partner are both former Confederate officers who, having lost everything in the war, make a rather good gold strike in the Western territories. His partner is killed by local native Americans and Carter goes to hide out in a cave.At this point, he passes out (so far as I can tell) and finds himself on the planet Barsoom, which we call Mars. Due to differing gravity, he is stronger and more agile than the natives and soon acquits himself as a warrior. There are numerous adventures, and Carter finds himself falling in love with Dejah Thoris, a Barsoomian princess. Further adventures ensue, of course, because the course of true love ne'er did run smooth. Carter and Dejah Thoris marry and are happily awaiting the birth of their first child when the atmosphere on Mars changes. Carter knows the secret to fixing the problem, and just as he does, he finds himself back in the aforementioned earthly cave. The book proved far more entertaining once the action on Mars began. I will be reading the next two books in the series to catch up to the film's action. There are two more books after *that,* but I haven't made up my mind yet as to whether those will be read.