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Volume 3373
Part One
The Tenth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
I ran my sword through his heart from behind . . .Frazetta cover art for the Doubleday edition: Swords and Synthetic. . . cleaving his skull as I raced past him!


Unlike the modern Hollywood trend of making contract killers, hitmen, snipers, and assassins into cultural underground heroes, the censorship that existed during most of ERB's writing career banned depictions that glorified this class of sociopaths; they were to be punished, not allowed to get away with their crimes, and were to be portrayed as morally repugnant creatures. ERB was clearly ahead of his time when he made the assassin a proper Barsoomian hero, like sports, rock, and music stars on Earth today. As in the Barsoomian cultural acceptance of slavery as morally neutral, the likewise morally neutral depiction of the assassin as a heroic figure allowed ERB to give his audience a truly “alien” feel of another culture in all of its barbaric and pagan splendor, providing a counterpoint to our own Western morality, steeped in the judgmental sinner-shame Judeo-Christian tradition as it is.

We learn from perhaps the most morally repugnant assassin on Mars, Rapas the Ulsio, or Rat, in Swords of Mars, that he refers to himself as a “gorthan.” It is not clear if this is the Martian word for an assassin in general or an assassin who is not a member of a guild, to wit, a rogue assassin, such as Rapas. Regardless of any moral apprehensions we may have, being an assassin is an honorable profession on Mars. Many of Barsoom’s most glorious heroes were and are assassins.

In this study, we will examine four of Barsoom’s most notorious assassins: Gor Hajus of Toonol; Gantun Gur of Amhor; Rapas and Ur Jan, both of Zodanga. Our first study is a clear case of an honorable assassin; the next two of miserable dishonorable assassins; and in the last case, half and half.


A) Gor Hajus of Toonol:
We recall from The Master Mind of Mars, that Ras Thavas has trained his Earthly assistant – Ulysses Paxton, aka Vad Varo – in how to transplant human brains into other bodies and has chosen for his study three cases. The first, 378-J-493811-P, the Red Martian warrior from Phundahl, whom he had killed at his advent on Mars in the act of protecting Ras Thavas; the second, the case of the man whose half-brain had been transplanted into that of a Great White Ape, aka Horvan Du; and the third, that of a notorious Toonolian assassin named Gor Hajus.

“The third subject that I had tentatively selected had been a notorious Toonolian assassin, whose audacity, fearlessness, and swordsmanship had won for him a reputation that had spread far beyond the boundaries of his country.

“Ras Thavas, himself a Toonolian, had given me something of the history of this man whose grim calling is not without honor upon Barsoom, and which Gor Hajus had raised still higher in the esteem of his countrymen through the fact that he never struck down a woman or a good man and that he never struck from behind. His killings were always the results of fair fights in which the victim had every opportunity to defend himself and slay his attacker; and he was famous for his loyalty to his friends. In fact this very loyalty had been a contributing factor in his downfall which had brought him to one of Ras Thavas’ ersite slabs some years since, for he had earned the enmity of Vobis Kan, Jeddak of Toonol, through his refusal to assassinate a man who had once befriended Gor Hajus in some slight degree; following which Vobis Kan conceived the suspicion that Gor Hajus had him marked for slaying. The result was inevitable: Gor Hajus was arrested and condemned to death; immediately following the execution of the sentence an agent of Ras Thavas had purchased the body.” (MMM/6.)

Vad Varo has chosen these three because he believes they can assist him in his plan to reunite the body and mind of the lovely Princess of Duhor, Valla Dia. With their assistance, he intents to steal a flier and fly to Phundahl, kidnap the Jeddara, Xaxa, who has stolen Valla Dia's body, bring Xaxa back to Ras Thavas’s island, and retransfer their brains.
“My first task lay in renewing the organs of 378-J-493811-P and of Gor Hajus which had been injured by the wounds that had laid them low; the former requiring a new lung and the latter a new heart, his executioner having run him through with a short-sword. I hesitated to ask Ras Thavas’ permission to experiment on these subjects for fear of the possibility of arousing his suspicions, in which event he would probably have them destroyed; and so I was forced to accomplish my designs by subterfuge and stealth....

“This groundwork carefully prepared, I had comparatively little fear of the results of actual discovery when I set to work upon the warrior of Phundahl and the assassin of Toonol. I chose the former first. His lung was badly injured where the blade has passed through it, but from the laboratory where were kept fractional bodies I brought a perfect lung, with which I replaced the one that I had ruined. The work occupied but half the night. So anxious was I to complete my task that I immediately opened up the breast of Gor Hajus, for whom I selected an unusually strong and powerful heart, and by working rapidly I succeeded in completing the transference before dawn.” (MMM/6.)

Eventually, it comes time to carry out his plan. He revives the Red Phundahlian, Dar Tarus, and Gor Hajus:
“I waited until both appeared quite restored. Dar Tarus was eyeing me with growing recognition that brought a most venomous expression of hatred to his countenance. Gor Hajus was frankly puzzled. The last he remembered was the scene in the death chamber at the instant that his executioner had run a sword through his heart. It was I who broke the silence.

“‘In the first place,’ I said, ‘let me tell you where you are, if you do not already know.’

“‘I know well enough where I am,’ growled Dar Tarus.

“‘Ah!’ exclaimed Gor Hajus, whose eyes had been roaming about the chamber. I can guess where I am. What Toonolian has not heard of Ras Thavas? So they sold my corpse to the old butcher did they? And what now? Did I just arrive?’

“‘You have been here six years,’ I told him, ‘and you may stay here forever unless we three can reach an agreement within the next few minutes, and that goes for you too, Dar Tarus.’

“‘Six years!’ mused Gor Hajus. ‘Well, out with it, man. What do you want? If it is to slay Ras Thavas, no! He has saved me from utter destruction; but name me some other, preferably Vobis Kan, Jeddak of Toonol. Find me a blade and I will slay a hundred to regain life.’ 

“‘I seek the life of none unless he stands in the way of the fulfillment of my desire in this matter that I have in hand. Listen! Ras Thavas had here a beautiful Duhorian girl. He sold her body to Xaxa, Jeddara of Phundahl, transplanting the girl’s brain to the wrinkled old body of the Jeddara. It is my intention to regain the body, restore it to its own brain and return the girl to Duhor.’

“Gor Hajus grinned. ‘You have a large contract on your hands,’ he said, ‘but I can see that you are a man after my own heart, and I am with you. It will give freedom and fighting, and all that I ask is a chance for one thrust at Vobis Kan.’

“‘I promise you life,’ I replied; ‘but with the understanding that you serve me faithfully and none other, undertaking no business of your own, until mine has been carried to a successful conclusion.’

“‘That means that I shall have to serve you for life,’ he repliled, ‘for the thing you have undertaken you can never accomplish; but that is better than lying here on a cold ersite slab waiting for old Ras Thavas to come along and carve out my gizzard. I am yours! Let me up, that I may feel a good pair of legs under me again.’” (MMM/7.)

Gor Hajus fixes the controls of a small, swift flier, which they set loose automatically so that Ras Thavas can see it take off; it flies to the east, away from Toonol; Vad Varo cries out that he going to explore Barsoom, making it appear to Ras Thavas that he is aboard the flier. They then hide in another flier and wait for hours until a crew boards it and flies out of the hangar.

The ship flies the short distance to Toonol, but before it arrives, it is boarded by a search party from a Toonolian ship, for Ras Thavas has alerted the authorities of Vad Varo’s escape.

The commanders know each other and discuss how ridiculous it would be to search the ship since Ras Thavas himself saw them fly away in his own small craft. Thus Vad Varo and his team reach Toonol. However, as they leave the ship, the captain, Bal Zak, captures them, but not for reward, as he tells them:

“‘There are in the breasts of honorable men,’ replied Bal Zak, ‘forces that rise superior to the lust for gold, and while Toonolians are supposedly a people free from the withering influences of sentiment yet I for one am not totally unconscious of the demand of gratitude. Six years ago, Gor Hajus, you refused to assassinate my father, holding that he was a good man, worthy to live and one that had once befriended you slightly. Today, through his son, you reap your reward and in some measure are repaid for the punishment that was meted out to you by Vobis Kan because of your refusal to slay the sire of Bal Zak. I have sent my crew away that none aboard the Vosar but myself might have knowledge of your presence. Tell me your plans and command me in what way I may be of further service to you.’” (MMM/8.)
They tell him and he points out several problems with the plan, especially the problem of having a Great White Ape among them.
“‘I do not need acquaint them with the fact,’ growled Hovan Du. ‘To them I need be but a captive ape. Are such unknown in Toonol?’

“‘Not entirely, though they are rare,’ replied Bal Zak. ‘But there is also the white skin of Vad Varo! Ras Thavas appears to have known nothing of the presence of the ape with you; but he full well knew of Vad Varo, and your description has been spread by every means at his command. You would be recognized immediately by the first Toonolian that lay eyes on you, and then there is Gor Hajus. He has been as dead for six years, yet I venture there is scarce a Toonolian that broke the shell prior to ten years ago who does not know the face of Gor Hajus as well as he knows that of his own mother. The Jeddak himself was not better known to the people of Toonol than Gor Hajus. That leaves but  one who might possibly escape suspicion and detection in the streets of Toonol.’” (MMM/8.)

Bal Zak gives Vad Varo some red pigment to disguise his skin and then directs them to some equilibrimotors as a means of avoiding patrols; Gor Hajus shows Vad Varo how to operate one. They fly to the house of Mu Tel, one of Gor Hajus’ closest friends. However, as they reach it they are stopped by a Toonolian warrior:
“‘Who flies by night?’ a voice commanded.

“‘Friends of Mu Tel, Prince of the House of Kan,’ replied Gor Hajus quickly.

“‘Let me see your night flying permit and your flier’s license,’ ordered the one above us, at the same time swooping suddenly to our level and giving me my first sight of a Martian policeman. He was equipped with a much swifter and handier equilibrimotor than ours. I think that was the first fact to impress us deeply, and it demonstrated the futility of flight; for he could have given us ten minutes start and overhauled each of us within another ten minutes, even though we had elected to fly in different directions. The fellow was a warrior rather than a policeman, though detailed to duty such as our Earthly police officers perform; the city being patrolled day and night by the warriors of Vobis Kan’s army.

“He dropped now close to the assassin of Toonol, again demanding permit and license and at the same time flashing a light in the face of my comrade. 

“‘By the sword of the Jeddak!’ he cried. ‘Fortune heaps her favors upon me. Who would have thought an hour since that it would be I who would collect the reward for the capture of Gor Hajus?’

“‘Any other fool might have have thought it,’ returned Gor Hajus, ‘but he would have been as wrong as you,’ and as he spoke he struck with the short-sword I had loaned him.

“The blow was broken by the wing of the warrior’s equilibrimotor, which it demolished, yet it inflicted a severe wound in the fellow’s shoulder. He tried to back off, but the damaged wing caused him only to wheel around erratically; and then he seized upon his whistle and attempted to blow a mighty blast that was cut short by another blow from Gor Hajus’ sword that split the man’s head open to the bridge of his nose.

“‘Quick!’ cried the assassin. ‘We must drop into the gardens of Mu Tel, for that signal will bring a swarm of air patrols about our heads.’” (MMM/8.)

They succeed in reaching the palace of Mu Tel and Gor Hajus introduces Vad Varo as a man who claims to come from the planet Jasoom. Mu Tel gives them shelter and shows Vad Varo a viewing device that allows Martians to track the goings on of people on Earth. He learns that the allies have won the First World War. As Vad Varo observes both Mu Tel and Gor Hajus together, he muses:
“As I came to know them better, and especially Gor Hajus, I began to realize that much of their flaunted contempt of the finer sensibilities was specious. It is true that generations of inhibition had to some extent atrophied those characteristics of heart and soul which the noblest among us so highly esteem; that friendship’s ties were lax and blood kinship awakened no high sense of responsibility or love even between parents and children; yet Gor Hajus was essentially a man of sentiment, though he would doubtless have run through the heart any who had dared accused him of it, thus perfectly proving the truth of the other’s accusation. His pride in his reputation for integrity and loyalty proved him a man of heart as did his jealousy of his reputation for heartlessness prove him a man of sentiment; and in all this he was but typical of the people of Toonol.” (MMM/9.)
Mu Tel takes them to a secret hangar where he has had a swift flier prepared for them to take them to Phundahl. However, shortly after they take off, another warrior in an eguilibrimotor spots them and blows his whistle. In a few moments a searchlight from an overhead patrol boat shines down on them. They race away but the patrol boat opens fire on them with explosive bullets and they have to take drastic measures:
“Dar Tarus, at the controls, turned the nose of our flier upward directly toward the patrol boat and at the same time shouted at us to concentrate our fire upon her propellers. For myself, I could see little but the blinding eye of the searchlight, and at that I fired with the strange weapon to which I had received my first introduction but a few hours since when it was presented to me by Mu Tel. To me that all searching eye represented the greatest menace that confronted us, and could we blind it the patrol boat would have no great advantage over us. So I kept my rifle straight upon it, my finger on the button that controlled the fire, and prayed for a hit.

“Gor Hajus knelt at my side, his weapons spitting bullets at the patrol boat. Dar Tarus’ hands were busy with the controls and Hovan Du squatted in the bow and growled.

“Suddenly Dar Tarus voiced an exclamation of alarm. ‘The controls are hit!’ he shouted. ‘We can’t alter our course – the ship is useless.’ Almost the same instant the searchlight was extinguished – one of my bullets evidently having found it. We were quite close to the enemy now and heard their shout of anger. Our own craft, out of control, was running swiftly toward the other. It seemed that if there was not a collision we would pass directly beneath the keel of the air patrol. I asked Dar Tarus if our ship was beyond repair.” (MMM/9.)

Dar Tarus informs him that there is not enough time for that and they decide to board the other craft and take it by force. Vad Varo recruits Hovan Du to help him take the ship. When they are fifteen feet below it, with the boarding tackle swinging over their heads, they leap for it. Boarding the ship, they are confronted by a member of the crew:
“The ape had also come up directly in front of a Toonolian warrior and this fellow had let out yell of surprise and sought to draw his sword, but the ape, for all of his great bulk, was too quick for him; and as my eyes topped the rail I saw the mighty anthropoid seize the unfortunate man by the harness, drag him to the side and hurl him to destruction far below. Instantly we were both over the rail and squarely on deck.” (MMM/9.)
They head for the controls and Vad Varo immediately strikes down the pilot. Then they are confronted by four warriors as Dar Tarus and Gor Hajus board the ship:
“‘Look!’ I cried to the enemy, ‘and surrender,’ and I pointed astern.

“One of them turned to look and what he saw brought an exclamation of surprise to his lips. ‘It is Gor Hajus,’ he cried, and then, to me: ‘What is your purpose with us if we surrender?’

“‘We have no quarrel with you,’ I replied. ‘We but wish to leave Toonol and go our way in peace – we shall not harm you.’

“He turned to his fellows while, at a sign from me, my three companions stopped their advance and waited. For a few minutes the four warriors conversed in low tones, then he who at first spoken addressed me.

“‘There are few Toonolians,’ he said, ‘who would not be glad to serve Gor Hajus, whom we had thought long dead, but to surrender our ship to you would mean certain death for us when we reported our defeat at our headquarters. On the other hand were we to continue our defense most of us here upon the deck of this flier would be killed. If you can assure us that your plans are not aimed at the safety of Toonol I can make a suggestion that will afford an avenue of escape and safety for us all.’

“‘We only wish to leave Toonol,’ I replied. ‘No harm can come to Toonol because of what I seek to accomplish.’

“‘Good! And where do you wish to go?’

“‘That I may not tell you.’

“‘You may trust us, if you accept my proposal,’ he assured me, ‘which is that we convey you to your destination, after which we can return to Toonol and report that we engaged you and that after a long running fight, in which two of our number were killed, you eluded us in the darkness and escaped.’

“‘Can we trust these men?’ I asked, addressing Gor Hajus, who assured me that we could, and thus the compact was entered into which saw us speeding rapidly towards Phundahl aboard one of Vobis Kan’s own fliers.” (MMM/9.)

They arrive in Phundahl and Dar Tarus pays his respect to Tur, the god of the Phundahlians. Gor Hajus is an expert on the religion of Tur and fills Vad Varo in on its esoteric doctrines, absurd as they are. Since Dar Tarus’ body – belonging to the noble who had him assassinated – is well known in the court scene, he stays behind while Vad Varo, Gor Hajus, and Hovan Du attempt to enter the Jeddara’s palace by putting on an a smart animal show outside of the gates. Gor Hajus pretends to be the animal’s spokesman while Vad Varo pretends to be the keeper. They arrive at the gates and Gor Hajus addresses the crowd:
“‘Men and women of Phundahl,’ cried Gor Hajus, ‘behold, two poor panthans, who, risking their lives, have captured and trained one of the most savage and ferocious and at the same time most intelligent species of the great white ape of Barsoom ever before seen in captivity and at great expense have brought it to Phundahl for your entertainment and edification. My friends, this wonderful ape is endowed with human intelligence; he understands every word that is spoken to him. With your kind attention, my friends, I will endeavor to demonstrate the remarkable intelligence of this ferocious, man-eating beast – an intelligence that has entertained the crowned heads of Barsoom and mystified the minds of her most learned savants.’

“I thought Gor Hajus did pretty well as a bally-hoo artist. I had to smile as I listened, here upon Mars, to the familiar lines that I had taught him out of my Earthly experience of county fairs and amusement parks, so highly ludicrous they sounded falling from the lips of the Assassin of Toonol; but they evidently interested his auditors and impressed them, too, for they craned their necks and stood in earnest eyed silence awaiting the performance of Hovan Du. Even better, several members of the Jeddara’s Guard pricked up their ears and sauntered towards the gates; and among them was an officer.

“Gor Hajus caused Hovan Du to lie down at word of command, to get up, to stand upon one foot, and to indicate the number of fingers that Gor Hajus held up by growling once for each finger, thus satisfying the audience that he could count; but these simple things were only by way of leading up to the more remarkable achievements which we hoped would win an audience before the Jeddara. Gor Hajus borrowed a set of harness and weapons from a man in the crowd and had Hovan Du don it and fence with him, and then indeed did we hear exclamations of amazement.

“The warriors and the officer of Xaxa had drawn near the gates and were interested spectators, which was precisely what we wished, and now Gor Hajus was ready for the final, astounding revelation of Hovan Du’s intelligence.

“‘These things that you have witnessed are as nothing,’ he cried. ‘Why this beast can even read and write. He was captured in a deserted city near Ptarth and can read and write the language of that country. Is there among you one who, by chance, comes from that distant country?’

“A slave spoke up. ‘I am from Ptarth.’ 

“‘Good,’ said Gor Hajus. ‘Write some simple instructions and hand them to the ape. I will turn my back that you may know that I cannot assist him in any way.’

“The slave drew forth a tablet from a pocket pouch and wrote briefly. What he wrote he handed to Hovan Du. The ape read the message and without hesitation moved quickly to the gate and handed it to the officer standing upon the other side, the gate being constructed of wrought metal in fanciful designs that offered no obstruction to the view or to the passage of small articles. The officer took the message and examined it.

“‘What does it say?’ he demanded of the slave that had penned it.

“‘It says,’ replied the latter: ‘Take this message to the officer who stands just within the gate.’

“There were exclamations of surprise from all parts of the crowd and Hovan Du was compelled to repeat his performance several times with different messages which directed him to do various things, the officer always taking a great interest in the proceedings.

“‘It is marvelous,’ said he at last. ‘The Jeddara would be amused by the performance of this beast. Wait here, therefore, until I have sent word to her that she may, if she so desires, command your presence.’

“Nothing could have better suited us and so we waited with what patience we might for the messenger to return; and while we waited Hovan Du continued to mystify his audience with new proofs of his great intelligence.” (MMM/10.)

They are soon admitted to the palace and ushered in to the Jeddara’s reception chamber. She orders Sag Or, the man who now possesses the real body of Dar Tarus, to remove their weapons, which Vad Varo and Gor Hajus give up reluctantly. She allows the ape to perform but Vad Varo becomes suspicious when she is not impressed. Finally, a noble enters the room and confers privately with the Jeddara. She dismisses him with a curt gesture then turns her eyes on the hapless trio:
“‘Enough of this!’ she cried. Her eyes rested upon mine and she pointed her slim dagger at me. ‘Where is the other?’ she demanded.

“‘What other?’ I inquired.

“‘There were three of you, beside the ape. I know nothing about the ape, nor where, nor how you acquired it; but I do know all about you, Vad Varo, and Gor Hajus, the Assassin of Toonol, and Dar Tarus. Where is Dar Tarus?’ her voice was low and musical and entirely beautiful – the voice of Valla Dia – but behind it I knew was the terrible personality of Xaxa, and I knew too that it would be hard to deceive her, for she must have received what information she had directly from Ras Thavas. It had been stupid of me not to foresee that Ras Thavas would immediately guess the purpose of my mission and warn Xaxa. I perceived instantly that it would be worse than useless to deny our identity, rather I must explain our presence – if I could.

“‘Where is Dar Tarus?’ she repeated.” (MMM/11.)

Vad Varo tells her a good lie about Dar Tarus and does not deny that he is Vad Varo. He tells her he is from Jasoom and wants to learn more about Barsoom, which is why he came to Phundahl.
“‘And you come to Phundahl and seek to gain entrance to my presence and bring with you the notorious Assassin of Toonol that you may see more of Barsoom?’

“‘Gor Hajus may not return to Toonol,’ I explained, ‘and so he must seek service for his sword in some other court than that of Vobis Kan – in Phundahl perhaps, or if not here he must move on. I hope that he will decide to accompany me as I am a stranger in Barsoom, unaccustomed to the manners and ways of her people. I would fare ill without a guide and mentor.’

“‘You shall fare ill,’ she cried. ‘You have seen all of Barsoom that you are destined to see – you have reached the end of your adventure. You think to deceive me, eh? You do not know, perhaps, that I have heard of your infatuation with Valla Dia or that I am fully conversant with the purpose of your visit to Phundahl!’ Her eyes left me and swept her nobles and her warriors. ‘To the pits with them!’ she cried. ‘Later we shall choose the manner of their passing.’

“Instantly we were surrounded by a score of naked blades. There was no escape for Gor Hajus or me, but I thought that I saw an opportunity for Hovan Du to get away. I had had the possibility of such a contingency in mind from the first and always I had been on the look-out for an avenue of escape for one of us, and so the open windows at the right of the Jeddara had not gone unnoticed, nor the great trees growing in the courtyard beneath. Hovan Du was close behind me as Xaxa spoke.

“‘Go!’ I whispered. ‘The windows are open. Go, and tell Dar Tarus what has happened to us,’ and then I fell back away from him and dragged Gor Hajus with me as though we would attempt to resist arrest; and while I thus attracted their attention from him Hovan Du turned towards an open window. He had taken but a few steps when a warrior attempted to halt him; with that the ferocious brain of the anthropoid seemed to seize dominion over the great creature. With a hideous growl he leaped with the agility of a cat upon the unfortunate Phundahlian, swung him high in giant hands and using his body as a flail tumbled his fellows to right and left as he cut a swath towards the open window nearest him.” (MMM/11.)

All hell breaks loose in the chamber and Vad Varo spies Xaxa escaping behind some hangings behind her desk. He grabs Gor Hajus and follows after the Jeddara while everyone is trying to stop Hovan Du from reaching the window.
“Hovan Du was giving a good account of himself. He had discarded his first victim and one by one had seized others as they came within range of his long arms and powerful hands, sometimes four at a time as he stood well braced upon two of his hand-like feet and fought with the other four. His shock of bristling hair stood erect upon his skull and his fierce eyes blazed with rage as, towering high above his antagonists, he fought for his life – the most feared of all the savage creatures of Barsoom. Perhaps his greatest advantage lay in the inherent fear of him that was a part of every man in that room who faced him, and it forwarded my quickly conceived plan, too, for it kept every eye turned upon Hovan Du, so that Gor Hajus and I were able to work our way to the rear of the desk. I think Hovan Du must have sensed my intention then, for he did the one thing best suited to attract every eye from us to him and, too, he gave me notice that the human half of his brain was still alert and watchful of our welfare.

‘Heretofore the Phundahlians must have looked upon him as a remarkable specimen of great ape, marvelously trained, but now, of a sudden, he paralyzed them with awe, for his roars and growls took the form of words and he spoke with the tongue of a human. He was near the window now. Several of the nobles were pushing bravely forward. Among them was Sag Or. Hovan Du reached forth and seized him, wrenching his weapons from him. ‘I go,’ he cried, ‘but let harm befall my friends and I shall return and tear the heart from Xaxa. Tell her that, from the Great Ape of Ptarth.’

“For an instant the warriors and the nobles stood transfixed with awe. Every eye was upon Hovan Du as he stood there with the struggling figure of Sag Or in his mighty grasp. Gor Hajus and I were forgotten. And then Hovan Du turned and leaped to the sill of the window and from there lightly to the branches of the nearest tree; and with him went Sag Or, the favorite of Xaxa, the Jeddara. At the same instant I drew Gor Hajus with me between the hangings in the rear of Xaxa’s desk, and as they fell behind us we found ourselves in the narrow mouth of a dark corridor.” (MMM/11.)

They hide behind a door and find themselves in the Temple of Tur with a massive statue of the god, Tur, looming over their heads. They enter the statue and find the means of controlling its apparatus, consisting of two moving periscopes where the eyes are located and a speaking tube where the mouth is located. By this means, they bring the reign of Xaxa to an end.

Valla Dia is reunited with her own body once again; Tur proclaims Dar Tarus the new Jeddak of Phundahl; and Gor Hajus joins league with Dar Tarus, who orders him to lead an army against the Toonolian warriors who have seized the Tower of Ras Thavas, but only after Ras Thavas agrees to donate some of his work to humanity. The attack against the Toonolians fails and
that’s the last we hear of Gor Hajus, the Assassin of Toonol.

B) Gantun Gur of Amhor:
Gantun Gur, the Assassin of Amhor, makes a brief appearance before the Seven Jeds of Morbus in his original body in Synthetic Men of Mars, as related by Vor Daj:

“While we were still in the council chambers a number of warriors entered with a prisoner, a swaggering red man, a scarred, hard bitten warrior, whose sneering face and haughty, arrogant manner seemed a deliberate, studied affront to his captors and the seven jeds. He was a powerful man, and despite the efforts of the warriors with him he forced his way almost to the foot of the dais before they could restrain him.

“‘Who is this man?’ demanded one of the jeds.

“I am Gantun Gur, the assassin of Amhor,’ bellowed the captive in a great voice. ‘Give me back my sword, you stinking ulsios, and let me show you what a real fighting man can do to these deformed monstrosities of yours and to you, too. They caught me in nets, which is no way for decent men to take a warrior.’

“‘Silence!’ commanded a jed, pale with anger, and smarting under the insult of being called in ill-smelling rat.

“‘Silence?’ screamed Gantun Gur. ‘By my first ancestor! There lives no man can make Gantun Gur keep silent. Come down here and try it, man to man, you snivelling worm.’

“‘Off with him,’ cried the jed. ‘Take him to Ras Thavas to take out his brain and burn it. He can do what he pleases with the body.’

“Gantun Gur fought like a demon, knocking hormads to right and left; and they only subdued him at last by entangling him in their nets. Then, bellowing curses and insults, he was dragged away toward the laboratory.” (SMM/8.)

When Vad Varo returns to the laboratory, Tor-dur-bar – whose head was lopped off by Vor Daj in the first confrontation between John Carter, Vor Daj, and the hormads – has grown a new body, a hideous but incredibly strong body.
“‘Well, here I am as good as new,’ he exclaimed, a broad grin splitting his horrid countenance. ‘What do you think of me?’

“‘I’m glad to have you as a friend,’ I said. ‘I think that new body of yours is very powerful. It’s splendidly muscled.’ And indeed it was.

“‘I should, however, like a body and face like yours,’ said Tor-dur-bar. ‘I was just talking to Ras Thavas about it, and he has promised to get me one, if he can.’

“Instantly I recalled Gantun Gur, the assassin of Amhor, and the doom that had been pronounced upon him by the jed. ‘I think a good body is waiting for you in the laboratory,’ I said; then I told him the story of Gantun Gur. ‘Now it is up to Ras Thavas. The jed said he could do what he pleased with the body.’

“‘We’ll have a look at the man,’ said the Master Mind of Mars, and led the way out toward to reception room where new victims were held pending his orders.

“We found Gantun Gur securely trussed up and heavily guarded. At sight of us he commenced to bellow and rail, insulting all three of us indiscriminately. He appeared to have a most evil disposition. Ras Thavas regarded him for a moment in silence; then he dismissed the warriors and officers who had brought him.

“‘We will take care of this,’ he said. ‘Report to the Council of the Seven Jeds that his brain will be burned and his body put to some good use.’ 

“At that, Gantun Gur broke into such a tirade that I thought he had gone mad, and perhaps he had. He gnashed his teeth and foamed at the mouth and called Ras Thavas everything he could lay his tongue to.

“Ras Thavas turned to Tor-dur-bar. ‘Can you carry him?’ he asked.

“For answer, the hormad picked up the red man as easily as though he had no weight and flung him across one broad shoulder. Tor-dur-bar’s new body was indeed a mountain of strength.” (SMM/8.)

Ras Thavas leads them to a secret chamber behind his study where there are two tables, side by side. He directs Tor-dur-bar to place Gantun Gur on one of the tables and has him securely bound to it. Then Tor-dur-bar lays down on the other table.
“‘You are really going to do it?’ exclaimed Tor-dur-bar. ‘You are going to give me a beautiful new body and face?’

“‘I wouldn’t call it particularly beautiful,’ said Ras Thavas, with a slight smile.

“‘Oh, it is lovely,’ cried Tor-dur-bar. ‘I shall be your slave forever if you do this for me.’

“Although Gantun Gur was securely bound, it took both John Carter and myself to hold him still while Ras Thavas made two incisions in his body, one in a large vein and one in an artery. To these incisions he attached the ends of two tubes, one of which was connected with an empty glass receptacle and the other to a similar receptacle containing the colorless liquid. The connections made, he pressed a button controlling the small motor beneath the table, and Gantun Gur’s blood was pumped into the empty jar while the contents of the other jar were forced into the emptying veins and arteries. Of course Gantun Gur lost consciousness almost immediately after the motor started, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the last of him. When all the blood had been replaced by the colorless liquid, Ras Thavas removed the tubes and closed the openings in the body with bits of adhesive material; then he turned to Tor-dur-bar.

“You’re quite sure you want to be a red man?’ he asked.

“‘I can’t wait,’ replied the hormad.

“Ras Thavas repeated the operation he had just performed on Gantun Gur; then he sprayed both bodies with what he told us was a strong antiseptic solution and then himself, scrubbing his hands thoroughly. He now selected a sharp knife from among the instruments and removed the scalps from both bodies, following the hair line entirely around each head. This done, he sawed through the skull of each with a tiny circular saw attached to the end of a flexible, revolving shaft, following the line he had exposed by the removal of the scalps.

“It was a long and marvelously skillful operation that followed, and at the end of four hours he had transferred the brain of Tor-dur-bar to the brain pan of him who had been Gantun Gur, deftly connected the severed nerves and ganglia, replaced the skull and scalp and bound the head securely with adhesive material, which was not only antiseptic and healing but locally anaesthetic as well.

“He now reheated the blood he had drawn from Gantun Gur’s body, adding a few drops of some clear chemical solution, and as he withdrew the liquid from the veins and arteries, he pumped the blood back to replace it. Immediately following this he administered a hypodermic injection. “‘In an hour,’ he said, ‘Tor-dur-bar will awaken to a new life in a new body.’” (SMM/8.)

It is at this point that Vor Daj conceives the idea of having his brain transplanted into that of Tor-dur-bar’s old body. The operation is performed without Tor-dur-bar’s knowledge so that he will have no idea of what is going on. Having only inhabited his new hormad body for a few minutes before having his brain transplanted into the body of Gantun Gur, Tor-dur-bar never got
a chance to look in a mirror so that when he is confronted by his old body, now inhabited by the brain of Vor Daj, he doesn’t recognize it. Are you confused yet?

Thus ends the career of Gantun Gur, the Assassin of Amhor. You will recall that the new Gantun Gur uses his former position as an assassin to his advantage to gain a position in the guard of Jal Had, Prince of Amhor, eventually helping Vor Daj escape and rescue Janai. Yes, that Tor-dur-bar is a self made man who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps.

7 WONDERS: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII

RUNNERS UP: I.a | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII.2.2b.3a.3b | IX | X.2.3.4 | XI.2.3.

A Princess of Mars
Gods of Mars
Warlord of Mars
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Chessmen of Mars
Mastermind of Mars
A Fighting Man of Mars
Swords of Mars
Synthetic Men of Mars
Llana of Gathol
Skeleton Men of Jupiter
John Carter and the Giant of Mars

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