This is a bad book.
It’s got high adventure! It’s got a sci fi premise that holds up 105 years after it’s first publication! The first person narration is a bit old fashioned but it works!
It’s also one of the most racist things I’ve ever read. One could try the old “It’s a product of its time!” Well, it’s time was hella racist too, so that’s not wrong.
John Carter, a white, Virginian, Confederate, Civil War veteran, is unexplainedly transported to Mars while running from Apaches who are trying to kill him for invading their territory to search for gold. He awakens in a strange place and deduces that he must be on the Red Planet. Carter is the Gary Stu to end all Gary Stus. How the hell are you going to know that it must be Mars?
He is the immediate master of all nature and peoples that he encounters by virtue of being a Virginian gentleman. He is stronger than everyone because he is used to heavier Earth gravity (which is amazing! We know Mars has less gravity. It’s so frustrating when a work has really cool mechanics and sci fi concepts that are surrounded in the worst tropes). He is captured and immediately becomes a lord of the green people. They capture a princess of the red people (ugh) and she falls in love with him!
He is better at taming the domesticated beasts of Mars, flying the vehicles of Mars, riding the horse beasts of Mars. You name, he’s better at it. Because he is the only white man on the planet.
It’s the White Savior Trope without any couching whatsoever. It’s no surprise that this book is from the same writer who brought us Tarzan.
It’s interesting to look back at early sci fi and see what parts older works of speculative fiction have held up and which are absolute garbage.