In the natural evolution of Barsoom, Zodanga was on the
brink of becoming the most powerful nation on the planet. Then came John
Carter and everything changed. Zodanga’s once proud glory soon faded and
it became nothing more than a large city under Helium’s domination.
The causes of the fall of Zodanga are many, but the chief
cause appears to be their policy of genocide in regards to the Green Martian
hordes. In the end, it was the Green hordes that brought the proud nation
to its knees. Karma is a bitch even on Mars.
We will now examine the data both before and after the
fall of Zodanga. It is my belief that Zodanga has a basis in reality, namely
the city of Chicago. Like its Earthly counterpart, Zodanga is a magnet
for gangsters and political corruption. Although there a lot of good and
respectable people in Zodanga, they seem to be primarily country folk.
Within an eye blink, Zodanga goes from befriending John Carter to being
his most bitter enemy. Let us now see why.
John Carter has just escaped from the arena of the dreaded
Warhoons, a Green Martian horde. He treks for days and finally comes across
the tell-tale sign of human life: tall trees marking a waterway. But first
he is confronted by an enormous building covering four square miles and
two hundred feet high. He has stumbled upon the atmosphere factory, and
it appears to be in the territory of the Zodangan empire. While discussing
his story with the caretaker of the factory, he learns that Zodanga is
the closest city:
“Before I retired for the
night he promised to give me a letter to a nearby agricultural officer
who would help me on my way to Zodanga, which he said, was the nearest
Carter telepathically picks up a signal from the old man
that he plans to kill Carter once he has fallen asleep in case the old
man accidentally gave the code to unlocking the doors to the factory in
his thoughts, but Carter, having read the old man’s mind, recalls the nine
tones of the mental code and telepathically unlocks the doors in the middle
of the night and escapes with Woola.
“‘But be sure that you do not let
them know you are bound for Helium as they are at war with that country.
My assistant and I are of no country, we belong to all Barsoom and this
talisman which we wear protects us in all lands, even among the green men
– though we do not trust ourselves to their hands if we can avoid it,’
he added.” (PM/20.)
He stumbles upon some low rambling buildings in the waterway,
but know one answers after he repeatedly pounds on the doors. He falls
asleep and is awakened the next morning by the three Ptor brothers, who
take him into their homes showing a good side of Zodangan hospitality and
friendship. They feed him and give him a red pigment to disguise his skin
since he is an anomaly on the planet. They give him money and a letter
of introduction to a high official in Zodanga so that he might find employment
either in the army or navy.
He travels down the waterway to the city and discovers
that Dejah Thoris is believed to be dead. He learns this information from
a local noble person who had been in Helium on a diplomatic mission several
“At a second stop I met
some highly cultivated people of the noble class and while in conversation
we chanced to speak of Helium. One of the older men had been there on a
diplomatic mission several years before and spoke with regret of the conditions
which seemed destined ever to keep these two countries at war.
The reader will remember that only John Carter fell into
the hands of the Warhoons after he stood them off so that Sola and Dejah
Thoris could escape on their thoats. We are not told from what horde the
captured Green warrior belonged, but he was likely a Thark in pursuit of
Carter and Dejah Thoris. Why he believed that she was dead is likely because
of the reputation of the Warhoons. What transpired with Sola and Dejah
Thoris after they left John Carter presents a mystery in the Mythos that
must be solved by guess work. But we will wait until we have all of the
information before we make our guess.
“‘Helium,’ he said, ‘rightly boasts
the most beautiful women of Barsoom, and of all her treasures the wondrous
daughter of Mors Kajak, Dejah Thoris, is the most exquisite flower.
“‘Why,’ he added, ‘the people really
worship the ground she walks upon and since her loss on that ill-starred
expedition all Helium has been draped in mourning.
“‘That our ruler should have attacked
the disabled fleet as it was returning to Helium was but another of his
awful blunders which I fear will sooner or later compel Zodanga to elevate
a wiser man to his place.
“‘Even now, though our victorious
armies are surrounding Helium, the people of Zodanga are voicing their
displeasure, for the war is not a popular one, since it is not based on
right or justice. Our forces took advantage of the absence of the principal
fleet of Helium on their search for the princess, and so we have been able
easily to reduce the city to a sorry plight. It is said she will fall within
the next few passages of the further moon.’
“‘And what, think you, may have
been the fate of the princess, Dejah Thoris?’ I asked as casually as possible.
“‘She is dead,’ he answered. ‘This
much was learned from a green warrior recently captured by our forces in
the south. She escaped from the hordes of Thark with a strange creature
of another world, only to fall into the hands of the Warhoons. Their thoats
were found wandering upon the sea bottom and evidence of a bloody conflict
were discovered nearby.’
“While this information was in no
way reassuring, neither was it at all conclusive proof of the death of
Dejah Thoris, and so I determined to make every effort possible to reach
Helium as quickly as I could and carry to Tardos Mors such news of his
granddaughter’s possible whereabouts as lay in my power.” (PM/21.)
Carter arrives at the gates of Zodanga after he orders
Woola to return home to Thark. It is not normal on Barsoom for red men
to have calots as pets. The Martian dog, about the size of a Shetland pony,
would only scare everyone in the city, as would a Earth man followed by
a lion in any large city.
“He seemed to understand
me fully, and when I pointed back in the direction of Thark he turned sorrowfully
away, nor could I bear to watch him go; but resolutely set my face toward
Zodanga and with a touch of heartsickness approached her frowning walls.
So, thus far we have the word of a recently captured Green
warrior that the princess is dead. We have two thoats with no riders and
the sign of a bloody struggle. Finally, we learn that Dejah Thoris is in
the hands of Sab Than. Unfortunately, those are all the clues we are given.
“The letter I bore from them gained
me immediately entrance to the vast, walled city. It was still very early
in the morning and the streets were practically deserted. The residences,
raised high upon their metal columns, resembled huge rookeries, while the
uprights themselves presented the appearance of steel tree trunks. The
shops as a rule were not raised from the ground nor were their doors bolted
or barred, since thievery is practically unknown upon Barsoom. Assassination
is the ever-present fear of all Barsoomians, and for this reason alone
their homes are raised high above the ground at night, or in times of danger.
“The Ptor brothers had given me
explicit directions for reaching the point of the city where I could find
living accomodations and be near the offices of the government agents to
whom they had given me letters. My way led to the central square, or plaza,
which is a characteristic of all Martian cities.
“The plaza of Zodanga covers a square
mile and is bounded by the palaces of the jeddak, the jeds, and other members
of the royalty and nobility of Zodanga, as well as by the principal public
buildings, cafes, and shops.
“As I was crossing the great square
lost in wonder and admiration of the magnificent architecture and the gorgeous
scarlet vegetation which carpeted the broad lawns I discovered a red Martian
walking briskly toward me from one of the avenues. He paid not the slightest
attention to me, but as he came abreast I recognized him, and turning I
placed my hands upon his shoulder, calling out:
“‘Kaor, Kantos Kan!’
“Like lightning he wheeled and before
I could so much as lower my hand the point of his long-sword was at my
“‘Who are you?’ he growled, and
then as a backward leap carried me fifty feet from his sword he dropped
the point to the ground and exclaimed, laughing, “‘I do not need a better
reply, there is but one man upon all Barsoom who can bounce about like
a rubber ball. By the mother of the further moon, John Carter, how came
you here, and have you become a Darseen that you can change your color
“‘You gave me a bad half minute
my friend,’ he continued, after I had briefly outlined my adventures since
parting with him in the arena at Warhoon.
‘Were my name and city known to
the Zodangans I would shortly be sitting on the banks of the lost sea of
Korus with my revered and departed ancestors. I am here in the interest
of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, to discover the whereabouts of Dejah
Thoris, our princess. Sab Than, prince of Zodanga, has her hidden in the
city and has fallen madly in love with her. His father, Than Kosis, Jeddak
of Zodanga, had made her voluntary marriage to his son the price of peace
between our countries, but Tardos Mors will not accede to the demands and
has sent word that he and his people would rather look upon the dead face
of their princess than see her wed to any than her own choice, and that
personally he would prefer being engulfed in the ashes of a lost and burning
Helium to joining the metal of his house with that of Than Kosis. His reply
was the deadliest affront he could have put upon Than Kosis and the Zodangans,
but his people love him the more for it and his strength in Helium is greater
today than ever.
“‘I have been here three days,’
continued Kantos Kan, ‘but I have not yet found where Dejah Thoris is imprisoned.
Today I join the Zodangan navy as an air scout and I hope in this way to
win the confidence of Sab Than, the prince, who is commander of his division
of the navy, and thus learn the whereabouts of Dejah Thoris. I am glad
that you are here, John Carter, for I know your loyalty to my princess
and two of us working together should be able to accomplish much.’” (PM/21.)
Note, there is no word about Sola. In fact, she disappears
from the story until the very end. We must assume that she is wherever
Dejah Thoris is, since they were together when Carter was captured by the
Warhoons. We can guess that Sola and Dejah Thoris were later captured by
Green Martians of either horde but were rescued by the Zodangan air scout
division of the navy who gave the Green Martians a bloody fight to win
the princess. In the end, your guess is as good as mine.
“The plaza was now commencing
to fill with people going and coming upon the daily activities of their
duties. The shops were opening and the cafes filling with early morning
patrons. Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where
we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus. No hand touched the food
from the time it entered the building in its raw state until it emerged
hot and delicious upon the tables before the guests, in response to the
touching of tiny buttons to indicate their desire.
Carter then spies a lone airman stranded on the ground below
being attacked by three Green Martians as he makes his way to one of the
walled fields. Upon closer observation, Carter notes the metal of the Red
Martian as that of the same scout squadron to which Carter is attached.
He descends, and coming up on the Green Martians from behind, rams the
front of his craft between the shoulders of one of the Green warriors,
lopping his head off. The thoats of the other two Green warriors bolt in
fear in opposite directions.
“After our meal, Kantos Kan took
me with him to the headquarters of the air-scout squadron and introducing
me to his superior asked that I be enrolled as a member of the corps. In
accordance with custom an examination was necessary, but Kantos Kan had
told me to have no fear on this score as he would attend to that part of
the matter. He accomplished this by taking my order for examination to
the examining officer and representing himself as John Carter.
“‘This ruse will be discovered later,’
he cheerfully explained, ‘when they check up my weights, measurements,
and other personal identification data, but it will be several months before
this is done and our mission should be accomplished or have failed long
before that time.’
“The next few days were spent by
Kantos Kan in teaching the intricacies of flying and of repairing the dainty
little contrivances which the Martians use for this purpose. The body of
the one-man air craft is about sixteen feet long, two feet wide and three
inches thick, tapering to a point at each end. The driver sits on top of
this plane upon a seat constructed over the small, noiseless radium engine
which propels it. The medium of buoyancy is contained within the thin metal
of the body and consists of the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion,
as it may be termed in view of its properties.
“This ray, like the ninth ray, is
unknown on Earth, but the Martians have discovered that it is an inherent
property of all light no matter from what source it emanates. They have
learned that it is the solar eighth ray which propels the light of the
sun to the various planets, and it is the individual eighth ray of each
planet which ‘reflects,’ or propels the light thus obtained out into space
once more. The solar eighth ray would be absorbed by the surface of Barsoom,
but the Barsoomian eighth ray, which tends to propel light from Mars into
space, is constantly streaming out from the planet constituting a force
of repulsion of gravity which when confined is able to lift enormous weights
from the surface of the ground.
“It is this ray which has enabled
them to so perfect aviation that battle ships far outweighing anything
known upon Earth sail as gracefully and lightly through the thin air of
Barsoom as a toy balloon in the heavy atmospher of Earth.
“During the early years of the discovery
of this ray many strange accidents occurred before the Martians learned
to measure and control the wonderful power they had found. In one instance,
some nine hundred years before, the first great battle ship to be built
with eighth ray reservoirs was stored with too great a quantity of the
rays and she had sailed up from Helium with five hundred officers and men,
never to return.
“Her power of repulsion for the
planet was so great that it had carried her far into space, where she can
be seen today, by the aid of powerful telescopes, hurtling through the
heavens ten thousand miles from Mars; a tiny satellite that will thus encircle
Barsoom to the end of time.
“The fourth day after my arrival
in Zodanga I made my first flight, and as a result of it I won a promotion
which included quarters in the palace of Than Kosis.
“As I rose above the city I circled
several times, as I had seen Kantos Kan do, and then throwing my engine
into top speed I raced at a terrific velocity toward the south, following
one of the great waterways which enter Zodanga from that direction.” (PM/21.)
“Reducing my speed I circled
and came to the ground at the feet of the astonished Zodangan. He was warm
in his thanks for my timely aid and promised that my day’s work would bring
the reward it merited, for it was none other than a cousin of the jeddak
of Zodanga whose life I had saved.
I interrupt at this time to mention one of the enigmas of
Barsoom. Where do all of the feathers come from that the Martians use for
their adornment? We know that no birds or insects pester the Martian farmlands,
but we also know that there are birds and insects on Barsoom. We are told
that voiceless birds inhabit the trees in the Valley Dor, but we are not
told of any other birds on the rest of the planet, except for the Malagors
in Synthetic Men of Mars. Yet, even the Malagors were thought to be extinct
until Ras Thavas brought them back to life in his Jurassic Park experiments.
So, either there are other kinds of birds on the planet in plenty that
are never mentioned in the Mythos, or the feathers are heirlooms handed
down from generation to generation from a time when birds were plentiful
on the planet. Or, perhaps it is just another example of an ERB screw-
up. He was not, after all, the infallible God of Barsoom. Anyway, back
to the story:
“We wasted no time in talk as we
knew that the warriors would surely return as soon as they had gained control
of their mounts. Hastening to his damaged machine we were bending every
effort to finish the needed repairs and had almost completed them when
we saw the two green monsters returning at top speed from opposite sides
of us. When they had approached within a hundred yards their thoats again
became unmanageable and absolutely refused to advance further toward the
air craft which had frightened them.
“The warriors finally dismounted
and hobbling their animals advanced toward us on foot with drawn long-swords.
I advanced to meet the larger, telling the Zodangan to do the best he could
with the other. Finishing my man with almost no effort, as had now from
much practice become habitual with me, I hastened to return to my new acquaintance
whom I found indeed in desperate straits.
“He was wounded and down with the
huge foot of his antagonist upon his throat and the great long-sword raised
to deal the final thrust. With a bound I cleared the fifty feet intervening
between us, and with outstretched point drove my sword completely through
the body of the green warrior. His sword fell, harmless, to the ground
and he sank limply upon the prostrate form of the Zodangan.
“A cursory examination of the latter
revealed no mortal injuries and after a brief rest he asserted that he
felt fit to attempt the return voyage. He would have to pilot his own craft,
however, as these frail vessels are not intended to convey but a single
“Quickly completing the repairs
we rose together into the still, cloudless Martian sky, and at great speed
and without further mishap returned to Zodanga.
“As we neared the city we discovered
a mighty concourse of civilians and troops assembled upon the plain before
the city. The sky was black with naval vessels and private and public pleasure
craft, flying long streamers of gay-colored silks, and banners and flags
of odd and picturesque design.
“My companion signaled that I slow
down, and running his machine close beside mine suggested that we approach
and watch the ceremony, which he said, was for the purpose of conferring
honors on individual officers and men for bravery and other distinguished
service. He then unfurled a little ensign which denoted that his craft
bore a member of the royal family of Zodanga, and together we made our
way through the maze of low-lying air vessels until we hung directly over
the jeddak of Zodanga and his staff. All were mounted upon the small domestic
bull thoats of the red Martians, and their trappings and ornamentation
bore such a quantity of gorgeously colored feathers that I could not but
be struck with the startling resemblance the concourse bore to a band of
the red Indians of my own Earth.” (PM/21.)
“One of the staff called
the attention of Than Kosis to the presence of my companion above them
and the ruler motioned for him to descend. As they waited for the troops
to move into position facing the jeddak the two talked earnestly together,
the jeddak and his staff occasionally glancing up at me. I could not hear
their conversation and presently it ceased and all dismounted, as the last
body of troops had wheeled into position before their emperor. A member
of the staff advanced toward the troops, and calling the name of a soldier
commanded him to advance.
I must take this time to point out the dark irony of all
this before I forget. All of the prominent men in this scene will likely
soon be butchered in the great massacre at the hands of the Green Hordes
under the leadership of Tars Tarkas. Did ERB already know the plot of the
whole story before he wrote it? Or did he just start writing and go with
the flow? I know he made notes as he wrote a story, but did he have fully
written outlines of each plot in advance?
“The officer then recited the nature
of the heroic act which had won the approval of the jeddak, and the latter
advanced and placed a metal ornament upon the left arm of the lucky man.”
It is my belief that ERB had a rough outline in his mind
and then let his mojo do the workin’. Perhaps we are to understand Carter’s
attitude one of acting undercover among one’s enemies, since Zodanga was
at war with Helium. But at this time the only pseudo-allegiance he has
is with the Tharks. Unless, when he pledged to serve Dejah Thoris, he took
on her nation’s interests at the same time. It seems pointless in a well-outlined
plot to have Carter save this man and earn his eternal gratitude just to
later cut him down in the great hall of Than Kosis during the wedding ceremony
If this indeed is the truth, then ERB was one cruel, sadistic
son of a bitch to have the Zodangans so reach out and befriend him just
to have him repay them back with vengeance because the son of their leader
fell madly in love with the most irresistible woman on the planet, creating
a situation where the whole nation had to fall so that by Martian custom
Carter could have his Martian princess.
ERB’s mind is still too deep for me to fully fathom. Now
back to the ceremony:
“Ten men had so been decorated
when the aid called out, “‘John Carter, air scout!’
It is my opinion that Carter is not yet at enmity with Zodanga
when he enters the palace to become part of The Guard. All he wants is
Dejah Thoris. That it is the only interest he has at this time. As I see
it, his whole future political loyalties are formed in the next scene,
when Carter overhears a conversation between Than Kosis, Sab Than, and
“Never in my life had I been so
surprised, but the habit of military discipline is strong within me, and
I dropped my little machine lightly to the ground and advanced on foot
as I had seen the others do. As I halted before the officer, he addressed
me in a voice audible to the entire assemblage of troops and spectators.
“‘In recognition, John Carter,’
he said, ‘of your remarkable courage and skill in defending the person
of the cousin of the jeddak Than Kosis and, singlehanded, vanquishing three
green warriors, it is the pleasure of our jeddak to confer on you the mark
of his esteem.’
“Than Kosis then advanced toward
me and placing an ornament upon me, said: “‘My cousin has narrated the
details of your wonderful achievement, which seems little short of miraculous,
and if you can so well defend a cousin of the jeddak how much better could
you defend the person of the jeddak himself. You are therefore appointed
a padwar of The Guards and will be quartered in my palace hereafter.’
“I thanked him, and at his direction
joined the members of his staff. After the ceremony I returned my machine
to its quarters on the roof of the barracks of the air-scout squadron,
and with an orderly from the palace to guide me I reported to the officer
in charge of the palace.” (PM/21.)
If Dejah Thoris appears too happy with Sab Than in this
scene, we must remember she has been told that John Carter was killed by
the Warhoons. Still, she has apparently spent little time in grieving for
him. I also want to point out the suggested sexual intimacy between the
prince and princess. Perhaps she is happy because her new lover has spent
hours helping her to get through her mental pain. It is likely that this
isn’t the first time she has lost a lover. She is, not to forget, over
three hundred years older than Carter’s civil war era life.
Pay attention to the subtle undertones in the conversation
between Carter and Dejah Thoris when they were captives of the Tharks in
Korad. In this scene Carter struggles over whether he should tell the princess
that he has fallen madly in love with her, a fate also awaiting Sab Than
in the future:
“My first impulse was to
tell her of my love, and then I thought of the helplessness of her position
wherein I alone could lighten the burdens of her captivity, and protect
her in my poor way against the thousands of hereditary enemies she must
face upon our arrival at Thark. I could not chance causing her additional
pain or sorrow by declaring a love which, in all probability she did not
return. Should I be so indiscreet, her position would be even more unbearable
than now, and the thought that she might feel that I was taking advantage
of her helplessness, to influence her decision was the final argument which
sealed my lips.
One can easily imagine John Carter’s beating heart sinking
like the Titanic when the princess wouldn’t directly answer his question.
ERB is informing the reader that Dejah Thoris is not a virgin, even though,
as far as any reader can know, she has never been married. The Red Martians
may be a virtuous people on whole, as ERB keeps reminding us, but there
is ample evidence of fornication to put the general rule to test.
“‘Why are you so quiet, Dejah Thoris?’
I asked. ‘Possibly you would rather return to Sola and your quarters?’
“‘No,’ she murmured, ‘I am happy
here. I do not know why it is that I should always be happy and contented
when you, John Carter, a stranger, are with me; yet at such times it seems
that I am safe and that, with you, I shall soon return to my father’s court
and feel his strong arms about me and my mother’s tears and kisses on my
“‘Do people kiss, then, on Barsoom?’
I asked, when she had explained the word she used, in answer to my inquiry
as to its meaning.
“‘Parents, brothers, and sisters,
yes; and,’ she added in a low, thoughtful tone, ‘lovers.’
“‘And you, Dejah Thoris, have parents
and brothers and sisters?’
“‘And a – lover?’
“She was silent, nor could I venture
to repeat the question.
“‘The man of Barsoom,’ she finally
ventured, ‘does not ask personal questions of women, except his mother,
and the woman he has fought for and won.’” (PM/14.)
So we can well imagine John Carter’s love for the princess
creating an inherent jealousy of Dejah Thoris’s other lovers, all coming
to a head when he surmises that she has been up to her royal lecherous
ways with Sab Than. I would say this is Carter’s psychological breaking
point, where he becomes almost psychopathic in his willingness the depopulate
the entire planet to win
the princess. It sounds like the green monster at work.
I tend to go along with R.E. Prindle’s theory that this
triangle between Carter, Sab Than, and Dejah Thoris, was based on the triangle
between ERB, Frank Martin, the son of a wealthy tycoon, and Emma. (See,
ERBzine #1343.) If
this is true, and there is little reason to doubt it, then ERB learned
what most writers know, that petty grievances, or major ones, over people
and events, can best be worked out in fiction, where it is not a crime.
“The major-domo to whom
I reported had been given instructions to station me near the person of
the jeddak, who, in time of war, is always in great danger of assassination,
as the rule that all is fair in war seems to constitute the entire ethics
of Martian conflict.
Yes, a lot can happen in two days between a man and a maid,
especially when he has her in bondage in a secret hiding place. There may
even be a hint that Sab Than is well endowed and it’s this fact that finally
persuaded her to give in.
“He therefore escorted me immediately
to the apartment in which Than Kosis then was. The ruler was engaged in
conversation with his son, Sab Than, and several courtiers of his household,
and did not perceive my entrance.
“The walls of the apartment were
completely hung with splendid tapestries which hid any windows or doors
which may have pierced them. The room was lighted by imprisoned rays of
sunshine held between the ceiling proper and what appeared to be a ground-glass
false ceiling a few inches below.
“My guide drew aside one of the
tapestries, disclosing a passage which encircled the room, between the
hangings and the walls of the chamber. Within this passage I was to remain,
he said, so long as Than Kosis was in the apartment. When he left I was
to follow. My only duty was to guard the ruler and keep out of sight as
much as possible. I would be relieved after a period of four hours. The
major-domo then left me.
“The tapestries were of a strange
weaving which gave the appearance of heavy solidity from one side, but
from my hiding place I could perceive all that took place within the room
as readily as though there had been no curtain interfering.
“Scarcely had I gained my post than
the tapestry at the opposite end of the chamber separated and four soldiers
of The Guard entered, surrounding a female figure. As they approached Than
Kosis the soldiers fell to either side and there standing before the jeddak
and not ten feet from me, her beautiful face radiant with smiles, was Dejah
“Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga, advanced
to meet her, and hand in hand they approached close to the jeddak. Than
Kosis looked up in surprise, and, rising, saluted her.
“‘To what strange freak do I owe
this visit from the Princess of Helium, who, two days ago, with rare consideration
for my pride, assured me that she would prefer Tal Hajus, the green Thark,
to my son.’
“Dejah Thoris only smiled the more
and with the roguish dimples playing at the corners of her mouth she made
“‘From the beginning of time upon
Barsoom it has been the prerogative of woman to change her mind as she
listed and to dissemble in matters concerning her heart. That you will
forgive, Than Kosis, as has your son. Two days ago I was not sure of his
love for me, but now I am, and I have come to beg of you to forget my rash
words and to accept the assurance of the Princess of Helium that when the
time comes she will wed Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga.’” (PM/22.)
It can, of course, always be argued that she is merely
putting on an act in a diplomatic sacrificial move to save her country
from devastation, putting the best face forward so to speak – but the fact
that ERB explicitly pointed out that she was radiating when she entered
the room – a state that is hard or impossible to fake, should put that
argument to rest. One could just as easily argue that the radiance was
due to the after-glow of good sex. Anyway, Than Kosis is pleased at her
change of mind.
“‘I am glad that you have
so decided,’ replied Than Kosis. ‘It is far from my desire to push war
further against the people of Helium, and, your promise shall be recorded
and a proclamation to my people issued forthwith.’
Wow, if Dejah Thoris did do the nasty with Sab Than, it worked
like a charm. The man is obviously stricken, downright whipped, and well
under the bewitching spell of the princess.
“‘It were better, Than Kosis,’ interrupted
Dejah Thoris, ‘that the proclamation wait the ending of this war. It would
look strange indeed to my people and to yours were the Princess of Helium
to give herself to her country’s enemy in the midst of hostilities.’
“‘Cannot the war be ended at once?’
spoke Sab Than. ‘It requires but the word of Than Kosis to bring peace.
Say it, my father, say the word that will hasten my happiness, and end
this unpopular strife.’
“‘We shall see,’ replied Than Kosis,
‘how the people of Helium take to peace. I shall at least offer it to them.’
“Dejah Thoris, after a few seconds,
turned and left the apartment, still followed by her guards.” (PM/22.)
With the competition of all the other hot babes on Barsoom,
I sometimes forget how outrageously beautiful Dejah Thoris must be. So
far she has driven a white man from Earth, a Green Martian Jeddak, and
now the Prince of Zodanga, absolutely bonkers. Carter’s next move betrays
his frail mental state and will forever seal his fate in Zodanga. That
will be dealt with in Part Two.
ADDENDUM TO "THE RIVER ISS"
I just realized I left out a key passage that helps to
locate at least one above-the-ground reference to the River Iss. It comes
when Sarkoja is confronted with her wickedness in betraying the mother
of Sola by her lover, Tars Tarkas. He gives her an alternative, since he
has experienced a streak of mercy as a result of his friendship with John
“‘Sarkoja,’ said Tars Tarkas,
‘forty years ago you were instrumental in bringing about the torture and
death of a woman named Gozava. I have just discovered that the warrior
who loved that woman has learned in your part in the transaction. He may
not kill you, Sarkoja, it is not our custom, but there is nothing to prevent
him tying one end of a strap about your neck and the other end to a wild
thoat, merely to test your fitness to survive and help perpetuate our race.
Having heard that he would do this, on the morrow, I thought it only right
to warn you, for I am a just man. The River Iss is but a short pilgrimage,
Sarkoja. Come, John Carter.’
This explains why Tars Tarkas knew where the location was
when he decided to take the voluntary pilgrimage when he longed to see
his lover and his good friend, John Carter, again.
“The next morning Sarkoja was gone,
nor was she ever seen after.” (PM/24.)
Thus, one of the locations where you can be sure to find
an ancient skiff left there conveniently by the Holy Therns, is in the
vicinity of Thark. Thus, Thark, Zodanga, the atmosphere factory, and an
above ground location of the River Iss, are all in the same general geographical