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Jetan Book Review

Games that originate from literature are not exactly a new thing, but rarely do books exclusively about them get published. Jetan: The Martian Chess of Edgar Rice Burroughs, written by Fredrik Ekman takes an in-depth look at the game taken from the pages of the Barsoom series. This book appeals to both fans of John Carter (the main protoganist in the first 3 books) and fans of abstract strategy games.

Ekman jumps right into his version of the rules in chapter 1. He takes great care in preserving the original text while clarifying particular details. Although we are lucky that Burroughs published the rules of Jetan in the 5th book of the series (The Chessmen of Mars), the text is ambiguous at times causing some dispute.

The early chapters provide a mini biography of Burroughs and describes things about the time in which he lived. This gives the reader a sense of the world that shaped his ideas.

Later chapters describe Jetan in popular culture, proposes chess-like notations for recording purposes and strategy tips for serious players. I especially enjoyed reading about all the different variants people have come up with over the years. This includes the author’s very own Thuria Jetan played on a 8x8 board.

If you looking to learn about Jetan, the Barsoom series, or Edgar Rice Burroughs, this is a great book to add to your collection. It’s a wonderful supplement to the series itself and makes a great reference for the many different variants. I will no doubt be going back to it again and again.