THE MARTIAN OCEANS AND THEIR CITIES
The Eighth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
Part Two: Aaanthor, Torquas, and Lothar
(continued from ERBzine
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
Carthoris and Thuvia tell the strange man from Lothar where they are
from, but the man has never heard of Helium or Ptarth:
“‘I know of nothing beyond the Lotharian
hills,’ he said. ‘Naught may live there beside the hideous green hordes
of Torquas. They have conquered all Barsoom except this single valley and
the city of Lothar. Here we have defied them for countless ages, though
periodically they renew their attempts to destroy us. From whence you come
I cannot guess unless you be descended from the slaves the Torquasians
captured in early times when they reduced the outer world to their vassalage;
but we had heard that they destroyed all other races but their own.’...
They inquire about the lost bowmen but discover that no man has left the
city that day, only a score or so of the sacred banths exited the gate.
They protest, having witnessed thousands of bowmen leaving the city. Their
host then asks them to look up the street and they see a great army of
bowmen marching towards them. The host draws their attention away from
the army and then asks them to turn and look again. The army has vanished.
They have many questions so the host takes them to Tario, the Jeddak of
Lothar, who will answer all that they want to know. He then leads them
down the broad avenue from which the phantom army had marched.
“After considerable parleying he consented to
admit them to the city, and a moment later the wheel-like gate rolled back
within its niche, and Thuvia and Cathoris entered the city of Lothar.“All
about them were evidences of fabulous wealth. The facades of the buildings
fronting upon the avenue within the wall were richly carven, and about
the windows and doors were ofttimes set foot-wide borders of precious stones,
intricate mosaics, or tablets of beaten gold bearing bas-reliefs depicting
what may have been bits of the history of this forgotten people.
“He with whom they had conversed across the wall
was in the avenue to receive them. About him were a hundred or more men
of the same race. All were clothed in flowing robes and all were beardless.
“Their attitude was more of fearful suspicion
than antagonism. They followed the new-comers with their eyes but spoke
no word to them.” (TMM/6.)
“For half an hour they walked along lovely
avenues between the most gorgeous buildings that the two had ever seen.
Few people were in evidence. Carthoris could not but note the deserted
appearance of the mighty city.
They enter a lofty chamber where a man reclines on a rich couch standing
upon a high dais. Their guide, Jav, tells them to follow his example: he
throws himself headlong on the floor, then rises on his hands and knees
and crawls towards the dais, swinging his head back and forth and wiggling
like a dog.
“At last they came to the royal palace. Carthoris
saw it from a distance, and guessing the nature of the magnificent pile
wondered that even here there should be so little sign of activity and
“‘Here,’ said their guide, ‘is the palace of Tario.’
“As he spoke Carthoris again let his gaze rest
upon the wondrous palace. With a startled exclamation he rubbed his eyes
and looked again. No! He could not be mistaken. Before the massive gate
stood a score of sentries. Within the avenue leading to the main building
was lined on either side by ranks of bowmen. The gardens were dotted with
officers and soldiers moving quickly to and fro, as though bent upon the
duties of the minute....
“‘I thought that you just said that there were
no soldiers in Lothar,’ said the Heliumite, with a gesture toward the guardsmen.
‘What are these?’
“‘Ask Tario,’ replied the other. ‘We shall soon
be before him.’” (TMM/6.)
“Thuvia glanced quickly toward Carthoris.
He was standing erect, with high-held head and arms folded across his broad
chest. A haughty smile curved his lips.” (TMM/6.)
I throw this quote in because it shows us what ERB is up to. It was unnecessary
for ERB to tell us what Carthoris was doing at this point from Thuvia’s
point of view. He could have just stated what Carthoris was doing without
mentioning Thuvia. Therefore he is telling us psychologically what it going
through her mind. She is checking out all of his actions to see if they
comport with what he has told her in all “honesty.”
Tario and Carthoris have a stare-down, then Tario asks Jav to identify
the two strangers to Lothar to him:
“‘O Tario, most glorious Jeddak,’ replied
Jav, ‘these be strangers who came with the hordes of Torquas to our gates,
saying that they were prisoners of the green men. They tell strange tales
of cities far beyond the Lothar.’” (TMM/6.)
Tario commands Jav to teach the strangers how to properly respect him.
Jav turns in rage upon Carthoris and Thuvia and commands them to prostrate
themselves before Tario, but Carthoris places his hand on the hilt of his
sword. Before he knows it, he is surrounded by a score of bowmen. Carthoris
pulls out his sword, SCHWING!, and the bowmen draw back their slim shafts.
What is Tario doing during this dangerous moment? He is a true Lothario:
he only has seduction of women in mind:
“Tario half raised himself upon one elbow.
For the first time he saw the full figure of Thuvia, who had been concealed
behind the person of Carthoris.
Again ERB gives us more than one way to interpret this scene with the use
of the term “full figure.” We can think of her full figure as all of her
or, more particularly, we can think of her as a full-breasted woman. In
other words, it means that he caught sight of her breasts and genitalia.
“‘Enough!’ cried the Jeddak, raising a protesting
hand, but at that very instant the sword of the Heliumite cut viciously
at its nearest antagonist.” (TMM/7.)
The fact that ERB used this term when others were just as suitable,
gives me reason to believe he meant the latter. This view is reinforced
by the fact that Thuvia is naked. It is even further reinforced by Tario’s
response. He halts his bowmen when he catches sight of her full figure
and then makes them disappear.
Tario changes his demeanor and tells Jav that they must first determine
if the strangers knowingly affronted them before determining what measures
must be taken for proper punishment:
“Then he turned to Carthoris, but ever
his gaze wandered to the perfect lines of Thuvia’s glorious figure, which
the harness of a Barsoomian princess accentuated rather than concealed.”
All doubts as to ERB’s meaning of “full figure” should have dissolved at
Tario is obviously a breast man. As for leather straps accentuating
breasts, one has only to pick up a dominatrix magazine to fully visualize
what ERB had in mind. Thuvia is one knock out babe with the morality of
a Holy Thern.
Remember, ERB is writing this story in 1915 and because of strict censorship,
must hint at things and use double-entendres if he wants to get away with
bawdy fiction. Anyway, Carthoris informs Tario that the Prince of Helium
and Princess of Ptarth prostrate themselves before no man.
“Tario looked at Carthoris for a long
time. At last he spoke.
Since there are no women in Lothar, and the Lotharians mistakenly believe
they and the Green Hordes are all that remain on Barsoom, then the presence
of Thuvia must have had a real impact on every real male in Lothar. And
Thuvia is no ordinary woman.
“‘There is no other jeddak upon Barsoom than Tario,’
he said. ‘There is no other race than that of Lothar, unless the hordes
of Torquas may be dignified by such an appellation. Lotharians are white;
your skins are red. There are no women left upon Barsoom. Your companion
is a woman.
“He half rose from the couch, leaning far forward
and pointing an accusing finger at Carthoris.
“‘You are a lie!’ he shrieked. ‘You are both lies,
and you dare to come before Tario, last and mightiest of the jeddaks of
Barsoom, and assert your reality. Some one shall pay well for this, Jav,
and unless I mistake it is yourself who has dared thus flippantly to trifle
with the good nature of your jeddak.
“‘Remove the man. Leave the woman. We shall see
if both be lies. And later, Jav, you shall suffer for your temerity. There
be few of us left, but – Komal must be fed. Go!’” (TMM/7.)
Carthoris reluctantly leaves with Jav after he tells him it is best
for them in the current situation. Carthoris looks back at Thuvia and tries
to make her understand that it is in her own best interest that he leaves.
“For answer she turned her back full
upon him, but not without first throwing him such a look of contempt that
brought the scarlet to his cheek.” (TMM/7.)
Carthoris may have had two hits previously, but he has just struck out
big time. He hesitates and Jav threatens the bowmen on Carthoris if he
doesn’t come with him. Carthoris obeys, leaving Thuvia alone with the Lothario
Tario . One can only guess how Tario hopes to determine the reality of
the Princess of Ptarth.
Carthoris and Jav chat. Jav tells him that he believes he is real, leading
Carthoris to inquire as to the disappearing bowmen. Jav explains:
“‘You have seen,’ replied the other.
‘We send out our deathless archers -- deathless because they are lifeless,
existing only in the imaginations of our enemies. It is really our giant
minds that defend us, sending out legions of imaginary warriors to materialize
before the mind’s eye of the foe.
Carthoris presses him, asking how is it that the dead bodies of the bowmen
were piled high on the field of battle. Jav explains:
“‘They see them – they see their bows drawn back
– they see their slender arrows speed with unerring precision toward their
hearts. And they die – killed by the power of suggestion.’” (TMM/7.)
“‘It is but to lend reality to the scene,’
replied Jav. ‘We picture many of our own defenders killed that the Torquasians
may not guess that there are really no flesh and blood creatures opposing
Carthoris asks about the banths and discovers that the ones that left the
gate with the archers were not real but the ones left scavenging on the
field were. Jav tells him that this is demanded by the realists among them.
Jav is a realist, but Tario is an etherealist.
“‘Once that truth became implanted in their minds,
it is the theory of many of us, no longer would they fall prey to the suggestion
of the deadly arrows, for greater would be the suggestion of the truth,
and the more powerful suggestion would prevail – it is law.’” (TMM/7.)
“The etherealists maintain that there is no such thing as matter
-- that all is mind. They say that none of us exists, except in the imagination
of his fellows, other than as an intangible, invisible mentality.
Jav waves his hand and immediately Carthoris is confronted with a table
full of food and drink. They have a long sophomoric discussion about the
reality of the food before them which is rarely clear and full of contradictions.
Finally they get around to discussing Komal.
“‘According to Tario, it is but necessary that we all unite in imagining
that there are no dead Torquasians beneath our walls, and there will be
none, nor any need of scavenging banths.’
“‘You, then, do not hold Tario’s beliefs?’ asked Carthoris.
“‘In part only,’ replied the Lotharian. ‘I believe, in fact I know,
that there are only some ethereal creatures. Tario is one, I am convinced.
He has no existence except in the imagination of his people.
“‘Of course, it is the contention of all of us realists that all etherealists
are but figments of the imagination. They contend that no food is necessary,
nor do they eat; but any one of the most rudimentary intelligence must
realize that food is a necessity to creatures having actual existence.’
“‘Yes,’ agreed Carthoris, ‘not having eaten today I can readily agree
with you.’” (TMM/7.)
“‘Who is Komal?’ asked Carthoris. ‘I
heard your jeddak speak of him.’
Jav tells him how they first tried to just frighten off the Green Hordes,
but they did not frighten, and they had to go on to more drastic measures.
Jav explains the evolution of the techniques that he had seen that very
day. Then Carthoris remembers Thuvia and decides to take her some food.
Jav demands that he stays, but Carthoris decides to leave anyway. He has
an idea of how he can thwart the imaginary bowmen. But then they hear a
“Jav bent low toward the ear of the Heliumite,
looking fearfully about before he spoke.
“‘Komal is the essence,’ he whispered. ‘Even the
etherealists admit that mind itself must have substance in order to transmit
to imaginings the appearance of substance. For if there were really no
such thing as substance it could not be suggested – what never has been
cannot be imagined. Do you follow me?’
“‘I am groping,’ replied Carthoris dryly.
“‘So the essence must be substance,’ continued
Jav. ‘Komal is the essence of the All, as it were. He is maintained by
substance. He eats. He eats the real. To be explicit, he eats the realists.
That is Tario’s work.
“‘He says that inasmuch as we maintain that we
alone are real we should, to be consistent, admit that we alone are proper
food for Komal. Sometimes, as today, we find other food for him. He is
very fond of the Torquasians.’
“‘And Komal is a man?’ asked Carthoris.
“‘He is All, I told you,’ replied Jav. ‘I know
not how to explain him in words that you will understand. He is the beginning
and the end. All life
emanates from Komal, since the substance that
feeds the brain with imaginings radiates from the body of Komal.
“‘Should Komal cease to eat, all life upon Barsoom
would cease to be. He cannot die, but he might cease to eat, and, thus,
“‘And he feeds upon the men and women of your
belief?’ cried Carthoris.
“‘Women!’ exclaimed Jav. ‘There are no women in
Lothar. The last of the Lotharian females perished ages since, upon that
cruel and terrible journey across the muddy plains that fringed the half-dried
seas, when the green hordes scourged us across the world to this our last
hiding-place – our impregnable fortress of Lothar.
“‘Scarce twenty thousand men of all the countless
millions of our race lived to reach Lothar. Among us were no women and
no children. All these had perished by the way.
“‘As time went on, we, too, were dying and the
race fast approaching extinction, when the Great Truth was revealed to
us, that mind is all. Many more died before we perfected our powers, but
at last we were able to defy death when we fully understood that death
was merely a state of mind.
“‘Then came the creation of mind-people, or rather
the materialization of imaginings. We first put these to practical use
when the Torquasians discovered our retreat, and fortunate for us it was
that it required ages of search upon their part before they found the single
tiny entrance to the valley of Lothar.’” (TMM/7.)
Carthoris brushes Jav aside and rushes down the corridor with sword
Then, in ERB’s classic cliffhanger style, the scene shifts back to Thuvia
and Tario just as Carthoris is leaving with Jav. Thuvia is left with a
feeling of foreboding. She has not had the luxury of Jav’s lecture, and
still knows nothing of the Lotharians. Meanwhile Tario is staring at her
through half-closed eyes, an ERB euphemism for lust.
“‘Come nearer,’ he said, and, as she
approached: ‘Whose creature are you? Who has dared to materialize his imaginings
of a woman? It is contrary to the customs and the royal edicts of Lothar.
Tell me, woman, from whose brain have you sprung? Jav’s? No, do not deny
it. I know that it could be no other than that envious realist. He seeks
to tempt me. He would see me fall beneath the spell of your charms, and
then he, your master, would direct my destiny and – my end. I see it all!
I see it all!’
Yes, this is ERB’s stock in trade near rape scene. Did you notice how Tario
went from believing Thuvia was a lie to a full hypnotic seduction the moment
he realized she was real.
“The blood of indignation and anger had been rising
to Thuvia’s face. Her chin was up, a haughty curve upon her perfect
“‘I know naught,’ she cried, ‘of what you are
prating! I am Thuvia, Princess of Ptarth. I am no man’s creature. Never
before today did I lay eyes upon him you call Jav, nor upon your ridiculous
city, of which even the greatest nations of Barsoom have never dreamed.
“‘My charms are not for you, nor such as you.
They are not for sale or barter, even though the price were a real throne.
And as for using them to win your worse than futile power --’ She ended
her sentence with a shrug of her shapely shoulders, and a little scornful
“When she had finished Tario was sitting upon
the edge of his couch, his feet upon the floor. He was leaning forward
with eyes no longer half closed, but wide with a startled expression in
“He did not seem to note the lese majeste of her
words and manner. There was evidently something more startling and compelling
about her speech than that.
“Slowly he came to his feet.
“‘By the fangs of Komal!’ he muttered. ‘But you
are real! A real woman! No dream! No vain and foolish figment of the mind!’
“He took a step toward her, with hands outstretched.
“‘Come!’ he whispered. ‘Come, woman! For countless
ages have I dreamed that some day you would come. And now that you are
here I can scarce believe the testimony of my eyes. Even now, knowing that
you are real, I still half dread that you may be a lie.’
“Thuvia shrank back. She thought the man mad.
Her hand stole to the jeweled hilt of her dagger. The man saw the move,
and stopped. A cunning expression entered his eyes. Then they became at
once dreamy and penetrating as they fairly bored into the girl’s brain.
“Thuvia suddenly felt a change coming over her.
What the cause of it she did not guess; but somehow the man before her
began to assume a new relationship within her heart.” (TMM/8.)
Perhaps there was a good reason the women chose to perish with their
children rather to be around these men any longer. Anyway, Tario has managed
to get inside the head of the Thern thinking Princess:
“No longer was he a strange and mysterious
enemy, but an old and trusted friend. Her hand slipped from the dagger’s
hilt. Tario came closer. He spoke gentle, friendly words, and she answered
him in a voice that seemed hers and yet another's.
Did you catch the “hidden spring of sentiment within her”? That’s the same
spring Solomon tapped with the dark skinned Rose of Sharon in the Bible:
“He was beside her now. His hand was up her shoulder.
His eyes were down-bent toward hers. She looked up into his face. His gaze
seemed to bore straight through her to some hidden spring of sentiment
“Her lips parted in sudden awe and wonder at the
strange revealment of her inner self that was being laid bare before her
consciousness. She had known Tario forever. He was more than friend to
her. She moved a little closer to him. In one swift flood of light she
knew the truth. She loved Tario, Jeddak of Lothar! She had always loved
“A fountain of gardens, a well of living
waters, and streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south;
blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved
come into his garden, and his pleasant fruits.
I think you get the idea. Thuvia is getting wet. Tario sensed her Thern
morality and went for the jugular. If Thuvia is getting wet, imagine the
state Tario must be in. Thuvia gets closer and closer to Tario even after
he feels her shoulder. We are not told what happened with Tario’s hands
after that, but we can imagine. Did Thuvia do anything with her hands in
return? ERB is silent on these essential facts, but, because of the censors,
he had to be. We learn below that at this point they were in each others
arms. Whatever was going on between them ends suddenly when Tario blows
“I have come into my garden, my sister, my spouse:
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with
my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea,
drink abundantly, O beloved.” (The Song of Solomon, 4:15 - 5:1.)
“The man, seeing the success of his strategy,
could not restrain a faint smile of satisfaction. Whether there was something
in the expression of his face, or whether from Carthoris of Helium in a
far chamber of the palace came a more powerful suggestion, who may say?
But something there was that suddenly dispelled the strange, hypnotic influence
of the man.
This is another of ERB's euphemisms: listen to the love. Come on, think
about it. What is there to hear? But there is a lot to feel and I believe
that was what Tario was really talking about.
“As though a mask had been torn from her eyes,
Thuvia suddenly saw Tario as she had formerly seen him, and, accustomed
as she was to the strange manifestations of highly developed mentality
which are common upon Barsoom, she quickly guessed enough of the truth
to know that she was in grave danger.
“Quickly she took a step backward, tearing herself
from his grasp. But the momentary contact had aroused within Tario all
the long-buried passions of his loveless existence.
“With a muffled cry he sprang upon her, throwing
his arms about her and attempting to drag her lips to his.
“‘Woman!’ he cried. ‘Lovely woman! Tario would
make you queen of Lothar. Listen to me! Listen to the love of the last
of the jeddaks of Barsoom.’” (TMM/8.)
“Thuvia struggled to free herself from
But of course they don’t release their arrows for they are only in Tario’s
mind and he has lost consciousness. Did you see how far ERB took the rape
scene? Just as far as he was allowed under the current standards of the
age. Rape was not allowed to be described in legal fiction. If you wanted
to legally read a description of rape at the time you had to read a court
transcript of a
“‘Stop, creature!’ she cried. ‘Stop! I do not
love you. Stop, or I shallscream for help!’
‘“‘Scream for help,’” he mimicked. ‘And who within
the halls of Lothar is there who might come in answer to your call? Who
would dare enter the presence of Tario, unsummoned?’
“‘There is one,’ she replied, ‘who would come,
and, coming, dare to cut you down upon your own throne, if he thought you
had you offered affront to Thuvia of Ptarth!’
“‘Who, Jav?’ asked Tario.
“‘Not Jav, nor any other soft-skinned Lotharian,’
she replied; ‘but a real man, a real warrior – Carthoris of Helium!’
“Again the man laughed at her.
“‘You forget the bowmen,’ he reminded her. ‘What
could your red warrior accomplish against my fearless legions?’
“And he caught her roughly to him, dragging her
towards his couch.
“‘If you will not be my queen, you shall be my
“‘Neither!’ cried the girl.
“As she spoke the single word there was a quick
move of her right hand; Tario, releasing her, staggered back, both hands
pressed to his side. At the same instant the room filled with bowmen, and
then the jeddak of Lothar sank senseless to the marble floor.
“At the instant he lost consciousness the bowmen
were about to release their arrows into Thuvia’s heart.” (TMM/8.)
Anyway, Carthoris arrives with Jav on his heels. Thuvia sees Carthoris
in a new way and struggles with the idea of her betrothal. At first everyone
believes Tario has been slain, but he is still alive and seals Carthoris,
Thuvia, and Jav in his chamber, sentencing them all to die the Death. Hours
go by. Thuvia snuggles up next to Carthoris:
“Thuvia of Ptarth drew quite close to
him. She felt safer with the feel of his arm against hers, and with the
contact of her the man took a new grip upon himself.” (TMM/8.)
Then the floor becomes a trap, sinking in all directions, they slide toward
“Better to cling to the smooth stone
he kicked off his sandals of zitidar hide and with his bare feet braced
himself against the sickening tilt, at the same time throwing his arms
supportingly about the girl.
Then the floor gives away totally and they are dumped into a chamber below
where the Death awaits them:
“In her terror her own hands clasped about the
man’s neck. Her cheek was close to his. Death, unseen and of unknown form,
seemed close upon them, and because unseen and unknowable, infinitely more
“‘Courage, my princess,’ he whispered.
“She looked up into his face to see smiling lips
above hers and brave eyes, untouched by terror, drinking deeply of her
“Carthoris, still clasping Thuvia tightly
to his breast, came to the ground catlike, breaking the shock for the girl.
Scarce had his feet touched the rough stone flagging of this new chamber
than his sword flashed out ready for instant use. But though the room was
lighted, there was no sign of enemy about.
Komal proves to be a huge banth, but, of course, Jav has no idea that Thuvia
is a banth whisperer. Komal is soon putty in her hands and she leads the
way out of the chamber to explore for an exit. Komal’s lair has another
opening into an arena and they are soon above ground once again. No one
is around. They ask Jav why this is so:
“Carthoris looked toward Jav. The man was pasty
white with fear.
“‘What is to be our fate?’ asked the Heliumite.
‘Tell me, man! Shake off your terror long enough to tell me, so I may be
prepared to sell my life and that of the Princess of Ptarth as dearly as
“‘Komal!’ whispered Jav. ‘We are to be devoured
“‘Your deity?’ asked Carthoris.
“The Lotharian nodded his head.” (TMM/9.)
“‘Poor Lothar,’ he said. ‘It is indeed
a city of ghosts. There are scarce a thousand of us left, who once were
numbered in the millions. Our great city is peopled by the creatures of
our own imagninings. For our own needs we do not take the trouble to materialize
these peoples of our brain, yet they are apparent to us.” (TMM/9.)
Jav then demonstrates this truth to Carthoris and Thuvia by summoning up
a scene from Lothar’s dim past with a wave of his hand:
“The sight that met them was awe-inspiring.
Where before there had been naught but deserted pavements and scarlet swards,
yawning windows and tenantless doors, now swarmed a countless multitude
of happy, laughing people.
The ocean is called Throxus only in this story. It later becomes Throxeus.
Why was the "e" added? Either ERB liked the sound of it better or it was
always Throxeus and the typist made a mistake. Anyway, the three of them
accompanied by Komal open the city gate and exit. Tario, standing on the
city wall above the gate, sends out a company of bowmen in pursuit. Jav
panics, but Carthoris gets an idea and tells Jav to hurl his own imaginary
bowmen against Tario’s imaginary bowmen. An absurd battle ensues.
“‘It is the past,’ said Jav in a low voice. ‘They
do not see us – they but live the old dead past of ancient Lothar – the
dead and crumbled Lothar of antiquity, which stood upon the shore of Throxus,
mightiest of the five oceans.
“‘See those fine, upstanding men swinging along
the broad avenue? See the young girls and the women smile upon them? See
the men greet them with love and respect? Those be seafarers coming up
from their ships which lie at the quays at the city’s edge.
“‘Brave men, they – ah, but the glory of Lothar
has faded! See their weapons. They alone bore arms, for they crossed the
five seas to strange places where dangers were. With their passing passed
the martial spirit of the Lotharians, leaving, as the ages rolled by, a
race of spineless cowards.
“‘We hated war, and so we trained not our youth
in warlike ways. Thus followed our undoing, for when the seas dried and
the green hordes encroached upon us we could do naught but flee. But we
remembered the seafaring bowmen of the days of our glory – it is the memory
of these which we hurl upon our enemies.’” (TMM/9.)
While Jav and Tario are thus engaged, Carthoris heads off with Thuvia
to look for the tunnel of escape from the valley of Lothar. Jav sees them
and for the first time realizes that he too wants to possess Thuvia of
Ptarth. He gets a cunning look in his eye:
“The thing that lay beyond that look
had been deep in his heart since first he had laid eyes upon Thuvia of
Ptarth. He had not recognized it, however, until now that she seemed to
about to pass out of his existence.
Jav is playing with their minds. He finally arranges a cease fire with
Tario for the night, and Thuvia watches in fascination as both sides dig
in and make camp for the night. She asks Jav why so much detail is necessary
for imaginary armies. He relates to her what he had told Carthoris before:
the realists demand it.
“He centered his mind upon the Heliumite and
the girl for an instant.
“Carthoris saw Thuvia of Ptarth step forward with
outstretched hand. He was surprised at this sudden softening toward him,
and it was with a full heart that e let his fingers close upon hers, as
together they turned away from forgotten Lothar, into the woods, and bent
their steps toward the distant mountains.
“As the Lotharian had turned toward them, Thuvia
had been surprised to hear Carthoris suddenly voice a new plan.
“‘Remain here with Jav,’ she had heard him say,
‘while I go to search for the passage through the cliffs.’
“She had dropped back in surprise and disappointment,
for she knew that there was no reason why she should not have accompanied
him. Certainly she should have safer with him than left here alone with
“And Jav watched the two and smiled his cunning
“‘Then too,’ continued the Lotharian,
‘there is always the hope, which with us is little short of belief, that
some day these materializations will merge into the real – that they will
remain, some of them, after we have dissolved their fellows, and that thus
we shall have discovered a means for perpetuating our dying race.
We see that Jav too has a bit of the Lothario in him. Thuvia begins to
pick up a bad vibe with Jav and maybe something else more visible:
“‘Some there are who claim already to have accomplished
the thing. It is generally supposed that the etherealists have quite a
few among their number who are permanent materializations. It is even said
that such is Tario, but that cannot be, for he existed before we had discovered
the full possibilities of suggestion.
“‘There are others among us who insist that none
of us is real. That we could not have existed all these ages without material
food and water had we ourselves been material. Although I am a realist,
I rather incline toward this belief myself.
“‘It seems well and sensibly based upon the belief
that our ancient forbears developed before their extinction such wondrous
mentalities that some of the stronger minds among them lived after the
death of their bodies – that we are but the deathless minds of individuals
“‘It would appear possible, and yet insofar as
I am concerned I have all the attributes of corporeal existence. I eat,
I sleep’ – he paused, casting a meaning look upon the girl – ‘I love!’”
“Thuvia could not mistake the palpable
meaning of his words and expression. She turned away with a little shrug
of disgust that was not lost upon the Lotharian.
ERB is at it again. The rape scene cut off in the middle to create another
cliffhanger. The focus switches back to Carthoris, who has just discovered
that Thuvia is not by his side. He snaps out of the spell and rushes back
to Lothar where he finds the mangled remains of Jav.
“He came close to her and seized her arm.
“‘Why not Jav?’ he cried. ‘Who more honorable
than the second of the world’s most ancient race? Your Heliumite? He has
gone. He has deserted you to your fate to save himself. Come, be Jav’s!’
“Thuvia of Ptarth rose to her full height, her
lifted shoulder turned toward the man, her haughty chin upraised, a scornful
twist to her lips.
“‘You lie!’ she said quietly. ‘The Heliumite knows
less of disloyalty than he knows of fear, and of fear he is as ignorant
as the unhatched young.’
“‘Then where is he?’ taunted the Lotharian. ‘I
tell you he has fled the valley. He has left you to your fate. But Jav
will see that it is a pleasant one. Tomorrow we shall return into Lothar
at the head of my victorious army, and I shall be jeddak and you shall
be my consort. Come!’ And he attempted to crush her to his breast.
“The girl struggled to free herself, striking
at the man with her metal armlets. Yet still he drew her toward him until
both were suddenly startled by a hideous growl that rumbled from the dark
wood close behind them.” (TMM/9.)
Let’s forget the cliffhanger effect for now and skip ahead a couple
of chapters to see what happened. Was Thuvia raped?
“Thuvia of Ptarth, battling for more
than life against the lust of Jav, cast a quick glance over her shoulder
toward the forest from which had rumbled the fierce growl. Jav looked,
Ironically, Jav thus confirmed that he was real and got to insure that
Komal kept radiating the substance for the imaginings. Yes, it pays to
be a banth whisperer. If you’re counting, that makes three near rape misses
for Thuvia: Astok; Tario; and now Jav. What is it about her that sends
out such an irresistible signal? Anyway, with Komal as her guide and bodyguard,
she leaves the valley and returns to Aaanthor, where she believes Carthoris
was headed. Of course, they pass each other in the woods.
“What they saw filled each with apprehension.
It was Komal, the banthgod, rushing wide-jawed upon them!
“Which had he chosen for his prey? Or was it to
“They had not long to wait, for though the Lotharian
attempted to hold the girl between himself and the terrible fangs, the
great beast found him at last.
“Then, shrieking, he attempted to fly toward Lothar,
after pushing Thuvia bodily into the face of the man-eater. But his flight
was of short duration. In a moment Komal was upon him, rending his throat
and chest with demoniacal fury.
“The girl reached their side a moment later, but
it was difficulty that she tore the mad beast from its prey. Still growling
and casting angry glances back upon Jav, the banth at last permitted itself
to be led away into the wood.” (TMM/112.)
When Carthoris discovers from the remains of Jav that Thuvia has gone
the way he just came, he makes mad haste back to the tunnel:
“It was dawn when he reached the mouth
of the dark tunnel that would lead him to the other world beyond this valley
of ghostly memories and strange hypnotic influences and menaces.
ERB tells us in a footnote in chapter 6 that a haad, or Barsoomian mile,
contains about 2,339 Earth feet. An Earth mile is 5,280 feet. If I am reading
him correctly, from the entrance of the tunnel to the southernmost boundary
of the Torquasians is about one hundred and fifty haads, and from the boundary
to Aaanthor is another two hundred haads, meaning that Aaanthor is not
“Within the long, dark passages he met with no
accident or obstacle, coming at last into the light of day beyond the mountains,
and no great distance from the southern verge of the domains of the Torquasians,
not more than one hundred and fifty haad at the most.
“From the boundary of Torquas to the city of Aaanthor
is a distance of some two hundred haads, so that the Heliumite had before
him a journey of more than one hundred and fifty Earth miles between him
and Aaanthor.” (TMM/10.)
within the boundaries of Torquas. Thus, Carthoris has a trek of 350
haads in front of him, or about 150 Earth miles.
Time for the calculator. Remember, ERB was making approximations. Hmm,
350 haads x 2, 339 Earth feet = 818,650 Earth feet. 150 Earth miles
x 5,280 Earth feet = 792,000 Earth feet.
Close enough for horseshoes. As Carthoris journeys he comes across
a strange sight:
“As he followed rapidly downward toward
the dead sea bottom, where he knew he must lose the spoor in the resilient
ochre vegetation, he was suddenly surprised to see a naked man approaching
him from the north-west.
It is never clear which side is right in the debate between the realists
and etherealists. Both sides seem to score some major points but the fact
that Kar Komak is resurrected out of thin air because of someone’s mental
suggestion lends credence to the etherealists having the stronger position.
But we can’t take any of this seriously for, after all, ERB is just having
“As the fellow drew closer, Carthoris halted to
await his coming. He knew that the man was unarmed, and that he was apparently
a Lotharian, for his skin was white and his hair auburn.
“He approached the Heliumite without sign of fear,
and when quite close called out the cheery Barsoomian ‘kaor’ of greeting.
“‘Who are you?’ asked Carthoris.
“‘I am Kar Komak, odwar of the bowmen,’ replied
the other. ‘A strange thing has happened to me. For ages Tario has been
bringing me into existence as he needed the services of the army of his
mind. Of all the bowmen it has been Kar Komak who has been oftemost materialized.
“‘For a long time Tario has been concentrating
his mind upon my permanent materialization. It has been an obsession with
him that some day this thing could be accomplished and the future of Lothar
assured. He asserted that matter was nonexistent except in the imagination
of man – that all was mental, and so he believed that by persisting in
his suggestion he could eventually make of
me a permanent suggestion in the minds of all
“‘Yesterday he succeeded, but at such a time!
It must have come all unknown to him, as it came to me without my knowledge,
as, with my horde of yelling bowmen, I pursued the fleeing Torquasians
back to their ochre plains.
“‘As darkness settled and the time came for us
to fade once more into thin air, I suddenly found myself alone upon the
edge of the great plain which lies yonder at the foot of the low hills.
“‘My men were gone back to the nothinness from
which they had sprung, but I remained – naked and unarmed.
“‘At first I could not understand, but at last
came a realization of what had occurred. Tario’s long suggestions had at
last prevailed, and Kar Komak had become a reality in the world of men;
but my harness and my weapons had faded away with my fellows, leaving me
naked and unarmed in a hostile country far from Lothar.’
“‘You wish to return to Lothar?’ asked Carthoris.
“‘No!’ replied Kar Komak quickly. ‘I have no love
for Tario. Being a creature of his mind, I know him too well. He is cruel
and tyrannical – a master I have no desire to serve. Now that he has succeeded
in accomplishing permanent materialization, he will be unbearable, and
he will go on until he has filled Lothar with his creatures. I wonder if
he has succeeded as well with the maid of Lothar.’
“‘I thought there were no women there,’ said Carthoris.
“‘In a hidden apartment in the palace of Tario,’
replied Kar Komak, ‘the jeddak has maintained the suggestion of a beautiful
girl, hoping that some day she would become permanent. I have seen her
there. She is wonderful. But for her sake I hope that Tario succeeds not
so well with her as he has with me.’” (TMM/10.)
return to Aaanthor:
“And so they came, upon the morning of
the third day, within sight of the glistening domes of distant Aaanthor.”
There is little or no more information given about dead sea-bottom cities
or their inhabitants after this point. However, we are given further geographical
information about Barsoom:
“Aaanthor lies in fifty south latitude,
and forty east of Horz, the deserted seat of Barsoomian culture and learning,
while Dusar lies fifteen degrees north of the equator and twenty degrees
east from Horz.” (TMM/12.)
Of course, there is one last connection made between the Lotharians and
the Therns when Carthoris must convince Vas Kor, the spy who sabotaged
Carthoris’s directional compass, that Kar Komak can be trusted even though
he has white skin and auburn hair:
“‘Kar Komak,’ he explained, ‘is, as you
can see, a thern. He has wandered far from his icebound southern temples
in search of adventure. I came upon him in the pits of Aaanthor; but though
I have known him so short a time, I can vouch for his bravery and loyalty.”
This story is too good to give any more away, so we will bid goodbye to
Aaanthor, Torquas, and Lothar for now.
When you open your eyes and read with discernment you can see clearly
that ERB wrote this series for adults. He would leave Barsoom behind for
another six years before he returned with The Chessmen of Mars.
Perhaps it took him this long to get Thuvia out of his system.
Who was Thuvia in real life? Was she a real person? If she wasn’t then
ERB was like Tario and his maid of Lothar, perhaps hoping by his suggestion
alone he could materialize this wanton babe into real life. After all,
Barsoom and all its life only exist in the mind that time forgot. They
only live when the mind of ERB is explored by other readers who love adventure,
horror, and romance. Keep the dream alive. The Barsoomian Mythos exists!
And there you have it, ERB’s Aaanthor, Torquas, and Lothar:
Part Two of the Eighth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom!