First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life & Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 3306
The Third Wonder of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.


Thomas Yeates art for the John Carter of Mars Trilogy

Edgar Rice Burroughs saved the best for last in his famous trilogy: A Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, and Warlord of Mars. As Carter fights his way from the South Pole to the North Pole as he tries to rescue his incomparable princess, Dejah Thoris, and stamp out the false religion of Issus, he encounters the North Pole's Great Ice Barrier, the Carrion Caves, and the land of Okar.

Okar is a gloomy, barren world of ice and crevaces which lies between the pole and the Great Ice Barrier. It is populated by Yellow Men with beards who live in hothouse cities, which create a man-made paradise under their crystal-glass domes. It is within these cities that the final drama of the trilogy is played out and where John Carter becomes the Warlord of Mars.

Great Ice Barrier | Carrion Caves | Crystal Dome | Apt ~ Jesse Marsh art in 1952 Dell Comic


John Carter, assisted by Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth, Thuvia’s father, search the border of the Ice Barrier for an entrance to the land of the North Pole. They are constantly harrassed by arctic monsters, mainly the apt:

“It is a huge, white-furred creature with six limbs, four of which, short and heavy, carry it swiftly over the snow and ice; while the other two, growing forward from its shoulders on either side of its long, powerful neck, terminate in white, hairless hands, with which it seizes and holds its prey.

“Its head and mouth are more similar in appearance to those of a hippopotamus than to any other earthly animal, except that from the sides of the lower jawbone two mighty horns curve slightly downward toward the front.

“Its two huge eyes inspired my greatest curiousity. They extend in two vast, oval patches from the center of the top of the cranium down either side of the head to below the roots of the horns, so that these weapons really grow out from the lower part of the eyes, which are composed of several thousand ocelli each.

“This eye structure seemed remarkable in a beast whose haunts were upon a glaring field of ice and snow, and though I found upon minute examination of several that we killed that each ocellus is furnished with its own lid, and that the animal can at will close as many of the facets of his huge eyes as he chooses, yet I was positive that nature had thus equipped him because much of his life was to be spent in dark, subterranean recesses.” (WM/8.)

They are thwarted in finding an entrance until they come across the largest apt they have seen yet, standing eight feet at the shoulder and wearing a golden collar. Unlike all of the other apts, it doesn’t attack them, but wanders off after seeing them. They deduce that this one has been tamed by man and follow it, discovering a cave opening. This is the entrance to the Carrion Caves, the only land entrance to the legendary land of the Yellow Men, of which there is little knowledge:
“My knowledge of the efforts that had been made by countless expeditions to explore that unknown land bade me to caution, for never had flier returned who had passed to any considerable distance beyond the mighty ice-barrier that fringes the southern hem of the frigid zone.” (WM//8.)
Carter muses on the disappearance of the fliers:
“The distance from the barrier to the pole was no more than a swift flier could cover in a few hours, and so it was assumed that some frightful catastrophe awaited those who reached the “forbidden land,” as it had become to be called by the Martians of the outer world.” (WM/8)
The reason for the catastrophe will be a major plot point later in the story. As they make their way through the last cave, Thuvan Dihn relates an ancient Barsoomian legend: 
“‘The ancient chronicles of the first historians of Barsoom – so ancient that we have for ages considered them mythology – record the passing of the yellow men from the ravages of the green hordes that overran Barsoom as the drying up of the great oceans drove the dominant races from their strongholds.

“‘They tell of the wanderings of the remnants of this once powerful race, harassed at every step, until at last they found a way through the ice-barrier of the north to a fertile valley at the pole.’” (WM/8.)

As they will discover, only the last part of the chronicles dealing with a fertile valley is mythology, a fact made clear as Carter and Thuvan Dihn emerge from the caves:
“Beyond the last cave we emerged into a desolate country of snow and ice, but found a well-marked trail leading north. The way was boulder-strewn, as had been that south of the barrier, so that we could see but a short distance ahead of us at any time.” (WM/8.)
They espie six Yellow Martians dressed in black and orange striped furs ambush another Yellow Martian dressed in the pure white skin of the apt. They rescue the one dressed in white, discovering after the assassins are killed that he is Talu, the rebel prince of Marentina:
“‘These from whom you have just saved me are warriors he has sent out to find and slay me, for they know that often I come alone to hunt and kill the sacred apt which Salensus Oll so much reveres. It is partly because I hate his religion that Salensus Oll hates me; but mostly does he fear my growing power and the great faction which has arisen throughout Okar that would be glad to see me ruler of Okar and Jeddak of Jeddaks in his place.

“‘He is a cruel and tyrannous master all hate, and were it not for the great fear they have of him I could raise an army overnight that would wipe out the few that may remain loyal to him. My own people are faithful to me, and the little valley of Marentina has paid no tribute to the court of Salensus Oll for a year.

“‘Nor can he force us, for a dozen men may hold the narrow way to Marentina against a million.’” (WM/9.)

Talu convinces Carter and Thuvan Dihn that it is expedient to visit his city of Marentina before they proceed on to the capital city of Kadabra. It is likely that in Kadabra they will find Dejah Thoris and Thuvia since Salensus Oll is a radical believer in Issus and would have easily given aid and comfort to the leader of the Holy Therns.

A. Marentina.

In Marentina, Carter discovers his first hothouse city and marvels at its beauty:
“The way was over some of the worst traveling I have ever seen, and I do not wonder that in this land where there are neither thoats nor fliers that Marentina is in little fear of invasion; but at last we reached our destination, the first view of which I had from a slight elevation a half-mile from the city.

“Nestled in a deep valley lay a city of Martian concrete, whose every street and plaza and open space was roofed with glass. All about lay snow and ice, but there was none upon the rounded domelike, crystal covering that enveloped the whole city.

“Then I saw how these people combatted the rigors of the arctic, and lived in luxury and comfort in the midst of a land of perpetual ice. Their cities were virtual hothouses, and when I had come within this one my respect and admiration for the scientific and engineering skill of this buried nation was unbounded.” (WM/9.)

Carter discovers that the Yellow Martians are exactly like the Red, Black, and White Martians except for the color of their skin and their fierce beards. They stay in Marentina for three days while Talu gives them a thorough tour of his city:
“The Marentina atmosphere plant will maintain life indefinitely in the cities of the north pole after all life upon the balance of dying Mars is extinct through the failure of the air supply, should the great central plant again cease functioning as it did upon that memorable occasion that gave me the opportunity of restoring life and happiness to the strange world that I had already learned to love so well.

“He showed us the heating system that stores the sun’s rays in great reservoirs beneath the city, and how little is necessary to maintain the perpetual summer heat of the glorious garden spot within this arctic paradise.

“Broad avenues of sod sewn with the seed of the ocher vegetation of the dead sea bottoms carried the noiseless traffic of light and airy ground fliers that are the only form of artificial transportation used north of the gigantic ice-barrier.

“The broad tires of these unique fliers are but rubber-like gas bags filled with the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion – that remarkable discovery of the Martians that has made possible the great fleets of mighty airships that render the red men of the outer world supreme. It is this ray which propels the inherent or reflected light of the planet off into space, and when confined gives to the Martian craft their airy buoyancy.

“The groud fliers of Marentina contain just sufficient buoyancy in their automobile-like wheels to give the cars traction for steering purposes; and though the hind wheels are geared to the engine, and aid in driving the machine, the bulk of this work is carried by a small propeller at the stern.

“I know of no more delightful sensation than that of riding in one of these luxuriously appointed cars which skim, light and airy as feathers, along the soft, mossy avenues of Marentina. They move with absolute noiselessness between borders of crimson sward and beneath arching trees gorgeous with the wondrous blooms that mark so many of the highly cultivated varieties of Barsoomian vegetation.” (WM/9.)

Talu takes them to a barber who gives them fake beards and a lotion to put on their skin to give them a yellow pigment. Appearing as Yellow Martians, they are given orange and black striped fur suits made from the orluk – another arctic monster – and leave Marentina for Kadabra.

Talu gives Carter a special ring that makes a pricking sensation in his flesh when it comes into close proximity with one of its mates, worn by Talu's spies in Kadabra.

B. Kadabra.

They travel all day and soon reach their destination:
“That very evening we came into sight of the walled and glass-roofed city of Kadabra. It lies in a low depression near the pole, surrounded by rocky, snowclad hills. From the pass through which we entered the valley we had a splendid view of this great city of the north. Its crystal domes sparkled in the brilliant sunlight gleaming above the frost-covered outer wall that circles the entire one hundred miles of its circumference.

“At regular intervals great gates give entrance to the city.” (WM/9.)

The gates are all closed for the day and they wait until the next morning to gain entrance.

They do this by joining a Marentina orluk hunting party using the ruse Talu suggested, saying they are from Illal, a remote Okarian city having little or no intercourse with Kadabra. Later that evening the party returns and it is then that Carter learns why all of the fliers that had ventured over the great barrier never returned:

“We had come quite close to the city when my attention was attracted toward a tall, black shaft that reared its head several hundred feet into the air from what appeared to be a tangled mass of junk or wreckage, now partially snowcovered.” (WM/9.)
Carter's attention is then directed by the hunting party to a large flier making its way above the crest of the encircling hills. The hunting party jokes in wonder at the continued folly of the outside world and as the flier gets nearer to the shaft, Carter discovers why:
“Straight for that grim shaft she bore. At the last minute I saw the great blades move to reverse her, yet on she came as though drawn by some mighty, irresistible power.” (WM/9.)
Carter then witnesses the gruesome sight of the flier crashing into the shaft while all the efforts of her crew to escape prove to be in vain. They all end up at the bottom of the shaft as bent and torn wreckage. Carter then understands how the shaft works:
“The shaft was a mighty magnet, and when once a vessel came within the radius of its powerful attraction for the aluminum steel that enters so largely into the construction of all Barsoomian craft, no power on earth could prevent such an end as we had just witnessed.

“I afterward learned that the shaft rests directly over the magnetic pole of Mars, but whether this adds in any way to its incalculable power of attraction, I do not know. I am a fighting man, not a scientist.” (WM/9.)

Carter learns that the shaft is called the Guardian of the North. Several hundred warriors exit through the nearest gate of the city and fall upon any survivors, and as Carter and Thuvan Dihn enter the city, a pack of fierce, gold-collared apts is loosed upon the wreckage to finish whatever the warriors missed.

Guardian of the North | Pit of Plenty
After finding a place to sleep for the night, they explore the city the next day, ending up seeking employment as palace guards in a magnificent building on the plaza opposite the royal grounds. Talu told them to seek employment from Sorav, the commander of the forces of the palace, and Carter discovers some more marvelous inventions as they are processed by an aid:
“The aid took us to his own office first, where he measured and weighed and photographed us simultaneously with a machine ingeniously devised for that purpose, five copies being instantly reproduced in five different offices of the government, two of which are located in other cities miles distant.” (WM/10.)
They are locked in a guard tower until they finish being tested for employment. While in the tower, they look out a barred window and see Dejah Thoris and Thuvia conversing in the palace garden and try to contact them, forgetting they are in the disguise of yellow men. After they are shunned, Thurid arrives and tries to force himself on Dejah Thoris. This enrages Carter so much he bends the bars on the window and leaps out into the garden to punch out Thurid. He is subsequently exposed by Thurid, arrested and sentenced to the Pit of Plenty by Salensus Oll so that he may marry Dejah Thoris:
“Then they led me through long corridors to a court far toward the center of the palace.

“In the center of the court was a deep pit, near the edge of which stood a half dozen other guardsmen, awaiting me. One of them carried a long rope in his hands, which he commenced to make ready as we approached.” (WM/11.)

Carter gets a tingling feeling in his finger as he approaches, tipping him off that one of the guardsmen is one of Talu’s spies. Carter acts as if nothing has happened and is unceremoniously lowered into the pit:
“The pit, which my imagination had pictured as being bottomless, proved to be not more than a hundred feet in depth; but as its walls were smoothly polished it might as well been a thousand feet, for I could never hope to escape without outside assistance.” (WM/11.)
The pit is covered, leaving Carter in utter darkness. Carter eventually receives outside assistance, but first he learns the sadistic purpose of the pit:
For a day I was left in darkness; and then, quite suddenly a brilliant light illumined my strange cell. I was reasonably hungry and thirsty by this time, not having tasted food and drink since the day of my incarceration.

“To my amazement I found the sides of the pit, that I had thought smooth, lined with shelves, upon which were the most delicious viands and liquid refreshments that Okar afforded.

“With an exclamation of delight I sprang forward to partake of some of the welcome food, but ere ever I reached it the light was extinguished, and, though I groped about the chamber, my hands came in contact with nothing beside the smooth, hard wall that I had but felt on my first examination of the prison.

“Immediately the pangs of hunger and thirst began to assail me. Where before I had but a mild craving for food and drink, I now actually suffered for want of it, and all because of the tantalizing sight that I had of food almost within my grasp.

“Once more darkness and silence enveloped me, a silence that was broken only by a single mocking laugh.” (WM/11.)

Carter falls for this cruel joke for a few days, almost goes mad, then recalling the mental fortitude he used in the pits of the Warhoons, he uses his will-power to resist the urge to lunge for the food, having learned that the walls are thick glass and the shelves of food are on the other side. With a rope given to him by Talu’s spy, he ascends out of the pit into a chamber near the
top, and follows the rope to a strange room where he discovers Thurid and an old man in conversation. Here he learns the purpose of the room from Thurid:
“‘You need not more than step from this room for an instant when I give you the signal. I will do the rest, and then, when I am gone, you may come and throw the great switch back in its place, and all will be as before. I need but an hour’s start to be safe beyond the devilish power that you control in this hidden chamber beneath the palace of your master. See how easy,’ and with the words the black dator rose from his seat and, crossing the room, laid his hand upon a large, burnished lever that protruded from the opposite wall.

“‘No! No!’ cried the little old man, springing after him, with a wild shriek. ‘Not that one! Not that one! That controls the sunray tanks, and should you pull it too far down, all Kadabra would be consumed by heat before I could replace it. Come away! Come away! You know not with what mighty powers you play. This is the lever that you seek. Note well the symbol inlaid in white upon its ebon surface.’

“Thurid approached and examined the handle of the lever.

“‘Ah, a magnet,’ he said.” (WM/12.)

With the help of Talu’s spy, Carter rescues Tardos Mors and his son, Mors Kajak, the father of Dejah Thoris, from a weapons chamber where they are chained to a wall. In a desperate fight with the guardsmen, they seek refuge at the top of the Kadabra watchtower, a high and lofty tower with walls made out of solid glass. It is in this fight that we learn why Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak are the greatest fighting Red Martians on the planet. In the glass-walled tower, Carter can see almost all of Okar:
“From this lofty perch a view could be had for miles in every direction. Toward the south stretched the rugged, ice-clad waste to the edge of the mighty barrier. Toward the east and west, and dimly toward the north I descried other Okarian cities, while in the immediate foreground, just beyond the walls of Kadabra, the grim guardian shaft reared its somber head.” (WM/12.)
Carter then witnesses the land forces of Helium, led by Carthoris, battling at the gates of the city. Slowly, they fight their way into the city, later joined by the forces of the green hordes ed by Tars Tarkas, and as the battle rages back and forth below, Mors Kajak cries out and points out the window to the south:
“As I looked in the direction he indicated I saw the cause of his perturbation. A mighty fleet of fliers was approaching majestically toward Kadabra from the direction of the ice-barrier. On and on they came with increasing velocity.

“‘The grim shaft that they call the Guardian of the North is beckoning to them,’ said Mors Kajak sadly, ‘just as it beckoned to Tardos Mors and his great fleet; see where they lie, crumpled and broken, a grim and terrible monument to the mighty force of destruction which naught can resist.’” (WM/13.)

Carter fights his way down to the hidden chamber of the little old man, Solan, to throw the switch in time to save the fleet. But before doing so, he has the greatest swordfight he has ever had with any Martian:
“Never in my life have I seen such wondrous swordsmanship and such uncanny agility as that ancient bag of bones displayed. He was in forty places at the same time, and before I had half a chance to awaken to my danger, he was like to have made a monkey of me, and a dead monkey at that.

“It is strange how new and unexpected conditions bring out unguessed ability to meet them.

“That day in the buried chamber beneath the palace of Salenus Oll I learned what swordsmanship meant, and to what heights of sword mastery I could achieve when pitted against such a wizard of the blade as Solan.” (WM/13.)

The lessons learned make Carter such a sword master that he is voted at the end of the novel the Warlord of Barsoom.

C. Pankor.

Pankor is an anomaly of the North Pole, for it is inhabited by a lost race of Red Men, and unknown for ages to the Yellow Men. We learn of this city in the third installment of Llana of Gathol, in a story entitled “Escape from Mars.” 

Carter has just escaped from the Great Rift Valley of the Firstborn with Llana, Pan Dan Chee of the ancient city of Horz, and Jad-han, brother of Janai of Amhor, in a swift Black Pirate flier. As they approach Gathol to return Llana to her parents, they discover a huge army encamped around the city. They decide to land a safe distance away to find out what is going on before entering Gathol. In consequence, Carter is separated from the others and Llana is recaptured by Hin Abtol, Jeddak of Pankor, the same man she escaped from in Horz. Hin Abtol’s rise to power is relayed to Carter by Llana while they are still in Horz in the first installment of Llana of Gathol, entitled, “The Ancient Dead.” Carter has asked her to explain how she ended up in Horz:

“‘It has been many years,’ she began, ‘since you were in the kingdom of Okar in the frozen north. Talu, the rebel prince, whom you placed upon the throne of Okar, visited Helium once immediatley thereafter. Since then, as far as I have ever heard, there has been no intercourse between Okar and the rest of Barsoom.’

“‘What has all that to do with your being in the pits of Horz?’ I demanded.

“‘Wait!’ she admonished. ‘I am leading up to that. The general belief has been that the region surrounding the North Pole is but sparsely inhabited and by a race of black-bearded yellow men only.’

“‘Correct,’ I said.

“‘Not correct,’ she contradicted. ‘There is a nation of red men occupying a considerable area, but at some distance from Okar. I am under the impression that when you were there the Okarians themselves had never heard of these people.

“‘Recently there came to the court of my father, Gahan of Gathol, a strange red man. He was like us, yet unlike. He came in an ancient ship, one which my father said must have been several hundred years old – obsolete in every respect. It was manned by a hundred warriors, whose harness and metal were unknown to us. They appeared fierce and warlike, but they came in peace
and were received in peace.

“Their leader, whose name was Hin Abtol, was a pompous braggart. He was an uncultured boor; but, as our guest, he was accorded every courtesy. He said that he was Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North. My father said that he thought that Talu held that title.

“‘ “He did,” replied Hin Abtol, “until I conquered his country and made him my vassal. Now I am Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North. My country is cold and bleak outside our glazed cities. I would come south, looking for other lands in which my people may settle and increase.”

“‘My father told him that all the arable lands were settled and belonged to other nations which had held them for centuries.

“‘Hin Abtol merely shrugged supercilliously. “When I find what I wish,” he said, “I shall conquer its people. I, Hin Abtol, take what I wish from the lesser peoples of Barsoom. From what I have heard, they are all weak and effete; not hardy and warlike as are we Panars. We breed fighting men, in addition to which we have countless mercenaries. I could conquer all of Barsoom if I choose.””’ (LG/I-10.)

Hin Abtol is keeping his word as he lays seige to Gathol. Carter puts on the red pigment he received from the Ptor brothers, and by a ruse, enters Hin Abtol’s camp. He manages to deceive the drunken Admiral of Hin Abtol’s fleet and receives command of one of Hin Abtol’s obsolete ships, the Dusar. He discovers that most of Hin Abtol’s men hate him and that few of them are Panars but captured men from other places. He learns that Hin Abtol has taken Llana back to Pankor and enlists a non-Panar crew to help him, one of them being his old friend, Tan Hadron of Hastor.

Once they cross the ice barrier, however, the crew mutinies out of fear of being “frozen” again, stranding Carter and a Panar named Gor-don – whom Carter has rescued from a burning ship the Dusar destroyed while making their escape – while forcing Tan Hadron to fly the Dusar out of harm’s way. Here we learn why the city was unknown for so long to the yellow men. As
Carter begins to head south, Gor-don stops him:

“‘Where are you going?’ he asked; ‘only death lies in that direction for a man on foot.’

“‘I know that,’ I relied; ‘death lies in any direction we may go.’

“The Panar smiled. ‘Pankor lies just beyond those hills,’ he said. ‘I have hunted here many times on this side of them; we can be in Pankor in a couple of hours.’” (LG/III-11.)

For Carter’s safety, they agree to enter Pankor with Gor-don acting as if Carter is his slave, and Carter lets Gor-don lead the way:

“Gor-don led the way with confidence over that trackless waste to a narrow gorge that split the hills. One unfamiliar with its location could have passed along the foot of the hills within a hundred yards of its mouth without ever seeing it, for its ice – and snow – covered walls blended with the surrounding snow to hide it most effectively.

“It was rough going in that gorge. Snow covered broken ice and rocks, so that we were constantly stumbling and often falling. Transverse fissures crossing the gorge formed a labyrinth of corridors in which a man might be quickly lost. Gor-don told me this was the only pass through the hills, and that if an enemy ever got into it he would freeze to death before he found his way out again.” (LG/III-11.)

Amazing: August 1941 - Yellow Men of Mars - (Llana of Gathol) - J. Allen St. John
They are attacked by an apt, which I mention because the scene appears both on the cover the original August 1941 issue of Amazing Stories – drawn by J. Allen St. John – where it first appeared, and on the cover of the Ballantine pocket book edition illustrated by Michael Whelan. (See ERBzine #0738.) We will discuss the drawing by J. Allen St. John in more detail below.

They survive the encounter, with Carter again saving the life of Gor-don, and then come across the city:

“As we talked, we continued on through the gorge; and presently came out upon a snow covered plain upon which rose one of those amazing, glass covered, hot-house cities of Barsoom’s North Polar region....

“Pankor was much like Kadabra, the capital city of Okar, only much smaller. Though the country around it and up to its walls was clothed in snow and ice, none lay upon the great crystal dome which roofed the entire city; and beneath the dome, a pleasant, springlike atmosphere prevailed. Its avenues were covered with the sod of the mosslike ocher vegetation which clothes the sea bottoms of the red planet, and bordered by well kept lawns of crimson Barsoomian grass. Along these avenues sped the noiseless traffic of light and airy ground fliers which I had become familiar in Marentina and Kadabra long years before.” (LG/III-11.)

As Gor-don’s personal bodyguard, Carter, passing himself off again as Dotar Sojat, is given some liberty to explore the city. On one of his outings, he is selected by an officer for a work patrol, and it is here that he learns why the crew of the Dusar mutinied and what they meant about being “frozen”:
“He led us out of the market place and along an avenue of poorer shops, to the city wall. Here, beside a small gate, was a shed in which was a stock of aptfur suits. After we had each donned one of these, in accordance with the officer’s instructions, he unlocked the small gate and led us out of the city into the bitter cold of the Arctic, where such a sight met my eyes as I hope I may never see again. On row after row of racks which extended as far as I could see hung frozen human corpses, thousands upon thousands of them, hanging by their feet, swinging in the biting wind.

“Each corpse was encased in ice, a transparent shroud through which their dead eyes stared pleadingly, reproachfully, accusingly, horribly. Some faces wore frozen grins, mocking Fate with bared teeth.

“The officer had us cut down twenty of the bodies, and the thought of the purpose for which they seemed obviously intended almost nauseated me. As I looked upon those endless lines of corpses hanging heads down, I was reminded of winter scenes before the butcher shops of northern cities in my native country, where the bodies of ox and bear and deer hung, frozen, for the gourmet to inspect.” (LG/III-12.)

Gino D'Achille art: Ballantine 1973
This scene, drawn by Gino D’Achille, can be found on the Ballantine paper back cover in ERBzine #0738. The frozen men are taken back to the city and thawed out, Carter carrying one of them all by himself, attracting the attention of the officer. As the thawed men come to, they are given harnesses and led away by an attachment of warriors. The officer is impressed with Carter’s superhuman strength, has him give a demonstration, then lets him go. When Carter returns to Gor-don, he asks him the reason for the frozen men:
“‘It is part of Hin Abtol’s mad scheme to conquer all of Barsoom and make himself Jeddak of Jeddaks and Warlord of Barsoom. He has heard of the famous John Carter, who holds these titles; and he is envious. He has been at the preserving of human beings by freezing for fully a hundred years. At first it was only a plan by which he might have great numbers of slaves available at any time without the expense of feeding them while they were idle. After he heard of John Carter and the enormous wealth of Helium and several other empires, this grandiose scheme of conquest commenced taking form.

“‘He had to have a fleet; and as no one in Pankor knew how to build airships, he had to acquire them by trickery and theft. A few crossed the ice barrier from some of the northern cities; these were lured to land by signals of friendship and welcome; then their crews were captured and all but one or two of them frozen in. Those who were not had promised to train Panars in the handling of the ships. It has been a very slow process of acquiring a navy; but he has supplemented it by visiting several of the northern cities, pretending friendship, and then stealing a ship or two, just as he pretended friendship for Gahan of Gathol and then stole his daughter.

“‘His present attack on Gathol is merely a practice campaign to give his officers and warriors experience and perhaps at the same time acquire a few more ships.’

“‘How many of those frozen men has he?’ I asked.

“‘He has accumulated fully a million in the last hundred years,’ replied Gor-don; ‘a very formidable army, if he had the ships to transport them.’

“On this dying planet, the population of which has been steadily decreasing for probably a million years, an army of a million warriors would indeed be formidable; but led by Hin Abtol and officered by Panars, two million disloyal warriors would be no great menace to such a power as Helium.” (LG/III-12.)

The officer reports the strength of Dotar Sojat to Hin Abtol, and the Jeddak demands that Gor-don transfer ownership to himself. He is escorted to the palace and discovers on one side of it that his personal flier – stolen by Hin Abtol in Horz – is displayed like a trophy. It is here that he is pitted for the amusement of Hin Abtol against two adversaries, Rab-zov, the strongest man
in Pankor, and then Ul-to, the greatest swordsman of Pankor, both of whom he easily defeats.

His discovers that Llana of Gathol is beside Hin Abtol in the crowd and subtlely directs her to the flier while he slowly hacks Ul-to to pieces. He maneuvers Ul-to close to the flier just as Hin Abtol notices Llana in the flier and calls an alarm. All hell breaks loose as Carter finishes off Ul-to, Llana lifts off the flier, Carter leaps on board, then together at last, they escape Pankor by crashing through the crystal dome.


Those that claim that ERB was not a true science fiction author can’t really have read about the Third Wonder of Barsoom. There are more marvelous inventions in the hothouse cities than to be found in most classic science fiction stories. Under these crystal domes, we find sunray tanks and atmosphere factories generating summer and springlike temperatures, airy ground fliers, a massive shaft-magnet, and an advanced form of a law enforcement fax-like machine that is still futuristic even by today's standards. Outside of the domes are terrible arctic monsters and a million men frozen in suspended animation.

And ERB created almost all of these in 1913. No wonder he revisited them again in 1940 when he wrote the four stories that make up Llana of Gathol. It is noteworthy that two of these stories first appeared under different names: “The Ancient Dead” first appeared in the March 1941 issue of Amazing Stories as “The City of Mummies,” and “Escape from Mars” first appeared in the August 1941 issue of Amazing Stories as “The Yellow Men of Mars,” as the astute reader would have realized after looking at the cover. (ERBzine #0738.)

Amazing: March 1941 - The City of Mummies (Llana of Gathol) J. Allen St. John

Amazing: August 1941 - Yellow Men of Mars - (Llana of Gathol) - J. Allen St. JohnAmazing: October 1941 - Invisible Men of Mars (Llana of Gathol) - J. Allen St. John

The dilemma raised by this title is obvious. The Panars, unlike the Yellow Men from Okar, are Red Men. The only yellow man ever mentioned is Talu, rebel prince of Marentina, and that mention only appears in “The City of Mummies,” not in “The Yellow Men of Mars.” This really disturbed me. What could possibly be the reason for this strange title?

Having studied political science in college in the late Sixties and Early Seventies, with an emphasis on Soviet Foreign Policy, my first theory was that because of the changing political climate between 1940 and 1948, ERB changed the Yellow Men into Red Men. The Japanese were no longer a threat, while the Red Russians were.

Not having a copy of the original March and August 1941 editions of Amazing Stories, to compare with the 1948 edition of Llana of Gathol, I was unable to confirm my theory and went to the only ERB expert I could think of, the amazing George McWhorter. It was his impression that Ray Palmer, who took over the Ziff-Davis pulp magazines in 1939 came up with the title “Yellow Men of Mars” because he thought it sounded catchy and would appeal to a wider reading audience.

This answer was unappealing to me, so Mr. McWhorter then went to his favorite ERB historian, Bob Barrett. His answer appears to be dead on. Because, for whatever reason – probably color contrast with a snow-white background – J. Allen St. John chose to color the apt on the cover yellow instead of white. Wanting the cover to match with the title, Palmer called the story “The Yellow Men of Mars.” Bizarre, yes. Crazy, yes. But the truth is often stranger than fiction.

And there you have it, the Third Wonder of Barsoom: 
The Hothouse Cities of Okar!

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.

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

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2011/2017 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.