i highly recommended a princess of mars, the first in the john carter series of books, & i'm going to keep on praising these. john carter is fucking sweet. he's half conan the barbarian, half...superman? in this book he basically ends up in the martian heaven, which turns out to be not quite paradise but instead, plant monsters. also: ape monsters, cannibals. john carter, after a fair amount of adventure, kicks everything's ass. because that is that way he rolls. he's all fighting on airships, submarines, ancient temples, catacombs that are on fire, he doesn't even care. when he shows up to a fight all of the people freak out because it is freaking john carter. oh, also john carter is immortal. & can astrally project. he can, you know.
the colour scheme of the aliens is really of note. in the first book, there are the four-armed, green, "savage" aliens & the humanoid, red, "civilized" aliens. this book introduces two other humanoid aliens-- bald, creepy whites & fight-crazy blacks. the story goes that once upon a time there were yellow, black, & white humanoids on barsoom (mars) & in the latter days of the planet the bloodlines mingled into the red. anyhow, this makes racial critique weird & complicated, which probably speaks well of it. though that isn't to say edgar is free of the prejudices of his time-- he makes sure to point out that they are all formed in the image of a "high race." still, freeing up the colour palate is weird, & his treatment of the greens is really compelling-- the part where the hordes of green men, led by tars tarkis, jeddak of thark, over-run the first born in the courtyards of the temple of issus? that is bloody brilliant.