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Volume 3318

The Eighth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom 
Part Three: Gathol, Horz...and Opar
Cartography by Larry Ivie for Readers Guide to Barsoom and AmtorHuck's Map of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.


O, Gathol
I remember
distant Horz and
dark sea bottoms
of ochre haunted quays
Whispered seas of
ghostly gloom
Frowning Issus
bride of Doom.
– from the Chronicles of Gathol.

Gathol is the oldest inhabited city upon Barsoom -- a statement Gahan of Gathol makes to Tara of Helium at their first introduction (CM/1). Of course, that was before the Orovars of Horz were discovered, and perhaps Gahan was still ignorant of the Lotharians. But those cities contained the ancient fair skinned race of Martians, whereas Gathol is inhabited by Red Martians.
Thus, we can surmise that Gathol is the oldest Red Martian inhabited city on Barsoom. 

Gathol and Horz are prominent cities in the dead sea bottom of mighty Throxeus, greatest of the five Martian oceans. Gathol, famous for her diamond mines, and Horz, "the deserted seat of Barsoomian culture and learning." (TMM/12.) So what does Opar, the hidden city in Tarzan’s Africa – the gold colony of Atlantis – have to do with the dead Martian ocean cities? This is a valid question, but as every reader of Barsoom and Tarzan must have speculated, there seems to be an intuitive connection between Opar and Barsoom even though never explicitly made by ERB.

We will present the evidence at the end of this study, and the reader can draw his or her own conclusions. But, as you must have guessed by now, I am one of the readers that advocates a direct relationship which may be no more than a continuity in ERB's brain that worked itself out either consciously and unconsciously in his fiction.


We first learn of Gathol when John Carter introduces his daughter, Tara of Helium, to Gahan, Jed of Gathol, in The Chessmen of Mars, at a midday function in her father's gardens. Tara is thinking of Djor Kantos, son of Carter's closest friend, Kantos Kan. She has been reared to believe that one day she would wed Djor Kantos because it had been the dearest wish of the Warlord and Kantos Kan. But, as we shall see, Tara of Helium is an independent thinker and not even her father chooses to be bound by wishful desires when it comes to the personal fufillment of his daughter.

Tara bathes and receives a full body massage from her naked slave, Uthia, then attends the function with some expectation. She is coming into full womanhood a little slower than most women her age, but is starting to feel her hormones.

She finds Djor Kantos flirting with one of her beautiful friends, Olvia Marthis, daughter of the Jed of Hastor. Before Tara can confront them, she is interrupted by the voice of her father:

“‘Tara of Helium!’ he called, and she turned to see him approaching with a strange warrior whose harness and metal bore devices with which she was unfamiliar. Even among the gorgeous trappings of the men of Helium and the visitors from distant empires those of the stranger were remarkable for their barbaric splendor. The leather of his harness was completely hidden beneath ornaments of platinum thickly set with brilliant diamonds, as were the scabbards of his swords and the ornate holster that held his long, Martian pistol. Moving through the sunlit garden at the side of the great Warlord, the scintillant rays of his countless gems enveloping him as in an aureole of light imparted to his noble figure a suggestion of godliness.

“‘Tara of Helium, I bring you Gahan, Jed of Gathol,’ said John Carter, after the simple Barsoomian custom of presentation.

“‘Kaor! Gahan, Jed of Gahol,’ returned Tara of Helium.

“‘My sword is at your feet, Tara of Helium,’ said the young chieftan.

“The Warlord left them and the two seated themselves upon an ersite bench beneath a spreading sorapus tree.

“‘Far Gathol,’ mused the girl. ‘Ever in my mind has it been connected with mystery and romance and the half-forgotten lore of the ancients. I cannot think of Gathol as existing today, possibly because I have never before seen a Gatholian.’

“‘And perhaps too because of the great distance that separates Helium and Gathol, as well as the comparative insignificance of my little free city, which might easily be lost in one corner of mighty Helium,’ added Gahan. ‘But what we lack in power we make up in pride,’ he continued, laughing. ‘We believe ours the oldest inhabited city upon Barsoom. It is one of the few that has retained its freedom, and this despite the fact that its ancient diamond mines are the richest known and, unlike practically all the other fields, are today apparently as inexhaustible as ever.’

“‘Tell me of Gathol,’ urged the girl. ‘The very thought fills me with interest,’ nor was it likely that the handsome face of the young jed detracted anything from the glamor of far Gathol.

“Nor did Gahan seem displeased with the excuse for further monopolizing the society of his fair companion. His eyes seem chained to her exquisite features, from which they moved no further than to a rounded breast, part hid beneath its jeweled covering, a naked shoulder or the symmetry of a perfect arm, resplendent in barbaric magnificence.” (CM/1.)

Did I mention that Tara of Helium is really hot? We can well imagine Gahan of Gathol getting rather excited as his eyes feast on Tara’s breasts and naked shoulders. We must give him credit for being able to recite a modest history of Gathol to Tara for it must have been difficult for him to focus his thoughts before such exquisite beauty.
“‘Your ancient history has doubtless told you that Gathol was built upon an island in Throxeus, mightiest of the five oceans of old Barsoom. As the ocean receded Gathol crept down the sides of the mountain, the summit of which was the island upon which she had been built, until today she covers the slopes from the summit to base, while the bowels of the great hill are honeycombed with the galleries of her mines. Entirely surrounding us is a great salt marsh, which protects us from invasion by land, while the rugged and ofttimes vertical topography of our mountain renders the landing of hostile airships a precarious undertaking.’

“‘That, and your brave warriors?’ suggested the girl.

“Gahan smiled. ‘We do not speak of that except to enemies,’ he said, ‘and then with tongues of steel rather than of flesh.’

“‘But what practice in the art of war has a people which nature has thus protected from attack?’ asked Tara of Helium, who had liked the young jed’s answer to her previous question, but yet in whose mind persisted a vague conviction of the possible effeminancy of her companion, induced doubtless, by the magnificence of his trappings and weapons which carried a suggestion of splendid show rather than grim utility.

“‘Our natural barriers, while they have doubtless saved us from defeat on countless occasions, have not by any means rendered us immune from attack,’ he explained, ‘for so great is the wealth of Gathol’s diamond treasury that there yet may be found those who will risk almost certain defeat in an effort to loot our unconquered city; so thus we may find occasional practice in the exercise of arms; but there is more to Gathol than the mountain city. My country extends from Polodona (Equator) north ten karads and from the tenth karad west of Horz to the twentieth west, including thus a million square haads, the greater proportion of which is fine grazing land where run our great herds of thoats and zitadars.

“‘Surrounded as we are by predatory enemies our herdsmen must indeed be warriors or we should have no herds, and you may be assured they get plenty of fighting. Then there is our constant need of workers in the mines. The Gaholians consider themselves a race of warriors and as such prefer not to labor in the mines. The law is, however, that each male Gatholian shall give an hour a day in labor to the government. That is practically the only tax that is levied upon them. They prefer however, to furnish a substitute to perform this labor, and as our own people will not hire out for labor in the mines it has been necessary to obtain slaves, and I do not need to tell you that slaves are not won without fighting. We sell these slaves in the public market, the proceeds going, half and half, to the government and the warriors who bring them in. The purchasers are credited with the amount of labor performed by their particular slaves. At the end of a year a good slave will have performed the labor tax of his master for six years, and if slaves are plentiful he is freed and permitted to return to his own people.’” (CM/1.)

Yes, leave it up to ERB to come up with a just system of slavery. Most of his readers at the time could hardly have had any experience of the practice of slavery as instituted in America before the Civil War. But on Barsoom, slavery is the norm and Martians see nothing immoral about it as a system of labor. ERB paints this picture not because he was a pro-slavery racist, but
as a writer creating an experience that had become alien to most Americans. This is what it is like to have slavery without guilt, he seems to be saying. 

Most judgmental moralists are outraged at this aspect of ERB's fiction, but ERB could have cared less about being politically correct when it came to telling a good story. The point ERB is making is that Gathol practices a humane form of slavery in contradistinction to more barbaric practices in the other Martian nations. Tara of Helium, however, changes the subject:

“‘You fight in platinum and diamonds?’ asked Tara, indicating his gorgeous trappings with a quizzical smile.

“Gahan laughed. ‘We are a vain people,’ he admitted, good-naturedly, ‘and it is possible that we place too much value on personal appearances. We vie with one another in the splendor of our accoutrements when trapped for the observance of the lighter duties of life, though when we take the field our leather is the plainest I have ever seen worn by fighting men of Barsoom. We pride ourselves, too, upon our physical beauty, and especially upon the beauty of our women. May I dare say, Tara of Helium, that I am hoping for the day when you will visit Gathol that my people may see one who is really beautiful.’” (CM/1.)

Yes, that Gahan of Gathol is a smooth one all right. But don’t get him wrong: he is not just bragging about the fighting ability of the Gatholians. There is a classic combination move in Jetan, Martian chess, named after Gahan of Gathol. In fact, that move is the direct consequence of his having to prove to Tara of Helium that he is no Gay Blade of the Barsoomian Hollywood,
which I always imagine Gahol to be from Gahan’s description of his people. Tara is flattered, but she keeps her cool:
“‘The women of Helium are taught to frown with displeasure upon the tongue of the flatterer,’ rejoined the girl, but Gahan, Jed of Gathol, observed that she smiled as she said it.
“A bugle sounded, clear and sweet, above the laughter and the talk. ‘The Dance of Barsoom!’ exclaimed the young warrior. ‘I claim you for it, Tara of Helium.’” (CM/1.)
Tara had been anticipating dancing with Djor Kantos. She is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Martian custom and losing face among her peers. Basically, she has been shunned by her beau at a critical moment during the midday function, and not to be doubly dissed beyond endurance, she accepts Gahan’s offer. Slaves go about the crowd distributing small musical instruments of a single string; Djor Kantos realizes his mistake and rushes to the princess, but she shuns him. He is too late. He obviously has been taking the imperious princess for granted and is not worthy.

The Dance of Barsoom is a very 17th century elaborate kind of dance, very boring, except for one position that Gahan uses to his advantage:

“Today, John Carter, Warlord of Mars, with Dejah Thoris, his mate, led in the dancing, and if there was another couple that vied with them in possession of the silent admiration of the guests it was the resplendent Jed of Gathol and his beautiful partner. In the ever-changing figures of the dance the man found himself now with the girl’s hand in his and again with an arm about the lithe body that the jeweled harness but inadequately covered, and the girl, though she had danced a thousand dances in the past, realized for the first time the personal contact of a man’s arm against her naked flesh. It troubled her that she should notice it, and she looked up questioningly and almost with displeasure at the man as though it was his fault. Their eyes met and she saw in his that which she had never seen in the eyes of Djor Kantos. It was at the very end of the dance and they both stopped suddenly with the music and stood there looking straight into each other’s eyes. It was Gahan of Gathol who spoke first.

“‘Tara of Helium, I love you,’ he said.

“The girl drew herself to her full height. ‘The Jed of Gathol forgets himself,’ she exclaimed haughtily.

“‘The Jed of Gathol would forget everything but you, Tara of Helium,’ he replied. Fiercely he pressed the soft hand that he still retained from the last position of the dance. ‘I love you, Tara of Helium,’ he repeated. ‘Why should your ears refuse to hear what your eyes but just now did not refuse to see – and answer?’

“‘What meanest thou?’ she cried. ‘Are the men of Gathol such boors, then?’

“‘They are neither boors nor fools,’ he replied quietly. ‘They know when they love a woman – and when she loves them.’

“Tara of Helium stamped her little foot in anger. ‘Go!’ she said, ‘before it is necessary to acquaint by father with the dishonor of her guest.’” (CM/1.)

There is a lot more going on that meets the eye in this scene. The thing that disturbed Tara the most was something visible, something that her ears refused to hear what was plainly before her eyes. Remember, except for their harnesses, they are both naked.

Gahan is obviously in a highly aroused state and not ashamed to show it. Tara experiences a sexual awakening during the dance when Gahan very obviously cops a feel, sending a chill of arousal up the spine of Tara. She sees something in the eyes of Gahan that she never saw in the eyes of Djor Kantos. We all should be on the same page now.

Next to John Carter, Gahan of Gathol is the most dashing, bad-ass fighting man on the planet of Barsoom. If John Carter is the Clark Gable of Barsoom, Gahan of Gathol is its Errol Flynn. He’s the perfect match for Tara of Helium. As it is, Tara is quite flustered and returns to her room:

“Tara of Helium did not return to her father’s guests, but awaited in her own apartments the word from Djor Kantos which she knew must come, begging her to return to the gardens. She would then refuse, haughtily. But no appeal came from Djor Kantos. At first Tara of Helium was angry, then she was hurt, and always she was puzzled. Occasionally she thought of the Jed of Gathol and then she would stamp her foot, for she was very angry indeed with Gahan. The presumption of the man! He had insinuated that he read love for him in her eyes. Never had she been so insulted and humiliated. Never had she so thoroughly hated a man. Suddenly she turned toward Uthia.

“‘My flying leather!’ she commanded.

“‘But the guests!’ exclaimed the slave girl. ‘Your father, the Warlord, will expect you to return.’

“‘He will be disappointed,’ snapped Tara of Helium.

“The slave hesitated. ‘He does not approve of your flying alone,’ she reminded her mistress.

“The young princess sprang to her feet and seized the unhappy slave by the shoulders, shaking her. ‘You are becoming unbearable, Uthia,’ she cried. ‘Soon there will be no alternative than to send you to the public slave-market. Then possibly you will find a master to your liking.’

“Tears came to the soft eyes of the slave girl. ‘It is because I love you, my princess,’ she said softly. Tara of Helium melted. She took the slave in her arms and kissed her.

“‘I have the disposition of a thoat, Uthia,’ she said. ‘Forgive me! I love you and there is nothing that I would not do for your and nothing would I do to harm you. Again, as I have so often in the past, I offer you your freedom.’

“‘I do not wish my freedom if it will separate me from you, Tara of Helium,’ replied Uthia. ‘I am happy here with you – I think that I should die without you.’ 

“And the girls kissed again. ” (CM/2.)

Surely, this relationship involves more than friendship. They both love each other and show it by their kisses for each other. That this involves a lesbian affair is hinted at further by Tara’s threat to sell her to a master of her liking – that is, to a man. In the end, Tara gets her way and goes flying, trying to get the whole thing of being sexually attracted to a man – a total stranger – out of her mind.
“Far out across the ochre sea-bottoms beyond the twin cities of Helium raced the swift flier of Tara of Helium. Thrilling to the speed and the buoyancy and the obedience of the little craft the girl drove toward the northeast. Why she should chose that direction she did not pause to consider. Perhaps because in that direction lay the least known areas of Barsoom, and, ergo, Romance, Mystery, and Adventure. In that direction also lay far Gathol; but to that fact she gave no conscious thought.

“She did, however, think occasionally of the jed of that distant kingdom, but the reaction to these thoughts was scarcely pleasurable. They still brought a flush of shame to her cheeks and a surge of angry blood to her heart. She was very angry with the Jed of Gathol, and though she should never see him again she was quite sure that hate of him would remain fresh in her memory forever. Mostly her thoughts revolved about another – Djor Kantos. And when she thought of him she thought also of Olvia Marthis of Hastor. Tara of Helium thought that she was jealous of the fair Olvia and it made her very angry to think that. She was angry with Djor Kantos and herself, and she was not angry at all with Olvia Marthis, whom she loved, and so of course she was not jealous really.

The trouble was, that Tara of Helium had failed for once to have her own way. Djor Kantos had not come running like a willing slave when she had expected him, and, ah, here was the rub of the whole thing! Gahan, Jed of Gathol, a stranger, had been a witness to her humiliation. He had seen her unclaimed at the beginning of a great function and he had come to the rescue to save her, as he doubtless thought, from the inglorious fate of a wall-flower. At the recurring thought, Tara of Helium could feel her whole body burning with scarlet shame and then she went suddenly white and cold with rage; whereupon she turned her flier about so abruptly that she was all but torn from her lashings upon the flat, narrow deck.” (CM/2.)

We learn that Uthia is unlikely Tara’s only lesbian lover. It appears that she has also had relations with Olvia Marthis, Princess of Hastor. She probably got her jealousy mixed up in her mind when she saw Djor Kantos flirting with her lover, being not jealous of Olvia, but of Djor Kantos. ERB was very much under the influence of Hollywood and its scandalous lifestyle at the
time he wrote this novel. He also pushed the envelope of censorship in this book and got away with one of the most bizarre near rape scenes in fiction: Tara’s molestation by a headless Rykor while its Kaldane master looks on in voyeuristic joy.

That Tara got her jealousy mixed up in her mind is something of which ERB was aware. He knew enough about psychology to know that often people misread their emotions. Tara has fallen for Gahan but refuses to recognize the truth. After all, he is not only a man but a dandy. She returns for dinner and discovers that her parents are upset for her leaving the midday function, letting down the guests. Carter mildly rebukes her.

“The girl rose, and came and stood beside him and put her arms about his neck.

“‘My proper old Virginian,’ she cried, rumpling his shock of black hair. 

“‘In Virginia you would be turned over your father’s knee and spanked,’ said the man, smiling.

“She crept into his lap and kissed him. ‘You do not love me any more,’ she announced. ‘No one loves me,’ but she could not compose her features into a pout because bubbling laughter insisted upon breaking through.

“‘The trouble is there are too many who love you,’ he said. ‘And now there is another.’

“‘Indeed!” she cried. ‘What do you mean?’

“‘Gahan of Gathol has asked permission to woo you.’

“The girl sat up very straight and tilted her chin in the air. ‘I would not wed with a walking diamond-mine,’ she said. ‘I will not have him.’

“‘I told him as much,’ replied her father, ‘and that you were as good as betrothed to another. He was very courteous about it; but at the same time he gave me to understand that he was accustomed to getting what he wanted and that he wanted you very much. I suppose it will mean another war. Your mother’s beauty kept Helium at war for many years and – well, Tara of Helium, if I were a young man I should doubtless be willling to set all Barsoom afire to win you, as I still would to keep your divine mother,’ and he smiled across the sorapus table and its golden service at the undimmed beauty of Mars’s most beautiful woman.’” (CM/2.)

I must point out the heightened sexuality in this passage. Sure, it is innocent fatherdaughter touching, but it involves intimate touching. Remember, they are both naked, wearing at most formal dining harnesses. When she wraps her arms around her father’s neck, her breasts are likely touching his face. She rumples his hair and he threatens to spank her, which at her age would constitute a semi-sexual act.

She responds by crawling into his lap and kissing him. Both of their genitalia are exposed and we can well imagine a certain amount of groin to groin touching at this point, especially when she sits up straight in his lap at the news that Gahan desires to woo her.

She protests that no one loves her, but she cannot pout because of a bubbling of laughter. What caused the bubbling of laughter? Was it the folly of her words, or, perhaps was it because her father reacted in an improper manner. The latter receives credence when her father then tells her that if he were a young man he would set the whole planet on fire to win her. Well, you get
the idea.

Normally, I would say I was reading way more into this than meets the eye, but when you consider that the novel opens with Tara wearing only a transparent silk scarf, which she swiftly removes to take a bath, after which, still naked, her whole body is massaged by Uthia, a beautiful naked slave girl whom Tara doesn’t hesitate to kiss, then this is far from a normal story and
situation. Then she meets Gahan, whose eyes don’t hesitate to feast on her breasts, which he soon gets to feel during the dance. It is not hard to imagine both Gahan and Carter getting erections under these circumstances.

Dejah Thoris intervenes assuring Tara that in the end she will marry Djor Kantos and that will be that. But Tara doesn’t think so:

“‘No,’ said the girl, ‘the subject irks me, and I shall not marry Djor Kantos, or another – I do not intend to wed.’

“Her father and mother looked at her and smiled. ‘When Gahan of Gathol returns he may carry you off,’ said the former.” (CM/2.)

She leaves her parents who play a game of jetan, then returns to her room and her silks and furs, and, of course, to the warm arms of Uthia. She awakens the next morning while the worst storm in Barsoomian history is raging outside with Uthia still in bed with her:
“At this hour of the day it was her custom to ride one of those small thoats that are the saddle animals of the red Martians, but the sight of the billowing clouds lured her to a new adventure. Uthia still slept and the girl did not disturb her.” (CM/2.)
As you can see, this is another very adult novel, bawdy beneath the surface. Tara will go on to be nearly raped by almost as many men and creatures as Thuvia. By the way, while corresponding with ERB expert, R.E. Prindle, I discovered that ERB wrote Thuvia, Maid of Mars, between April 1914 and June 20, 1914, not in 1915 like I mistakenly stated in the previous article on Aaanthor, Torquas, and Lothar. I also learned that ERB suggested it be titled, Carthoris.

Anyway, getting back to the sexual nature of Tara, when Gahan of Gathol, as Turan the Panthan, finallly wins Tara of Helium in the end – with her believing she has been immoral in abandoning Martian custom for the love of a Panthan – there is no certainty that she is still a virgin. But Gahan has been with her all along for the ride, so knows what kind of woman he has won.

We learn additional minutia about Gathol in Llana of Gathol, the tenth, and, in my opinion, the last true Barsoomian novel. In chapter 1 of the second book of the novel, “The Black Pirates of Mars,” we discover that Gathol is southwest of Horz, the ancient seat of Martian learning and culture. At the beginning of chapter 3 of the third book, “Escape from Mars,” ERB gives us a recapitulation of Gathol:

“Gathol is supposed by many to be the oldest inhabited city on Mars, and is one of the few that has retained its freedom; and that despite the fact that its ancient diamond mines are the richest known and, unlike practically all the other diamond fields, are today apparently as inexhaustible as ever.

“In ancient times the city was built upon an island in Throxeus, mightiest of the five oceans of old Barsoom. As the ocean receded, Gathol crept down the sides of the mountain, the summit of which was the island on which she had been built, until today she covers the slopes from summit to base, while the bowels of the great hill are honeycombed with the galleries of her mines.

“Entirely surrounding Gathol is a great salt marsh, which protects it from invasion by land, while the rugged and ofttimes vertical topography of the mountain renders the landing of hostile airships a precarious undertaking.

“Gahan, the father of Llana, is jed of Gathol, which is very much more than just a single city, comprising, as it does, some one hundred forty thousand square miles, much of which is fine grazing land where run their great herds of thoats and zitidars.” (LG/III-1.)

John Carter, Pan Dan Chee – the Orovar from Horz – Llana of Gathol, and the brother of Janai of Amhor, have all escaped from Kamtol in the Valley of the First Born in a swift flier and approach the boundaries of Gathol:
“We approached Gathol shortly before dawn. Neither moon was in the sky, and it was comparatively dark. The city was dark, too; I saw not a single light. That was strange, and might forebode ill; for Martian cities are not ordinarily darkened except in times of war when they may be threatened by an enemy.

“Llana came out of the tiny cabin and crouched on the deck beside me.

‘That looks ominous,’ she said.

“‘It does to me, too,’ I agreed; ‘and I’m going to stand off until daylight. I want to see what’s going on before I attempt to land.’
“‘Look over there,’ said Llana, pointing to the right of the black mass of the mountain; ‘see all those lights.’

“‘The camp fires of the herdsmen, possibly,’ I suggested.

“‘There are too many of them,’ said Llana.” (LG/III-1.)

Gathol is under siege by Hin Abtol, the Panar from Okar, who had originally abducted Llana and stranded her in Horz. They are forced to land by a Panarian ship shoots a hole in their buoyancy tank.
“That was a good little ship – staunch and swift, as are all the ships of the Black Pirates of Barsoom – and it carried us past the furthest camp fires before it finally settled to the ground just before dawn. We were close to a small forest of sorapus trees, and I thought it was best to take shelter there until we could reconnoiter a bit....

“I walked into the forest, looking for roots or herbs and that life giving plant, the mantalia, the milklike sap of which has saved me from death by thirst or starvation on many an occasion. But that forest seemed to be peculiarly barren of all forms of edible things, and I passed all the way through it and out upon the other side without finding anything that even a starving man would try to eat. 

“Beyond the forest, I saw some low hills; and that gave me renewed hope, as in some little ravine, where moisture might be held longest, I should doubtless find something worth taking back to my companions.” (LG/III-2.)

Carter is captured by a Gatholian patrol and taken to their camp:

“After about half an hour they entered another grove of sorapus, and presently came to a cluster of the rude huts used by the warrior-herdsmen of Gathol. Here was the remainder of the troop to which my captors belonged. These herdsmen are the warriors of Gathol, being divided into regular military units. This one was a utan of a hundred men commanded by a dwar, with two padwars, or lieutenants under him. They remain on this duty for one month, which is equivalent to about seventy days of Earth time; then they are relieved and return to Gathol city.” (LG/III-3.)
Gan Hor, the dwar of the troop, discusses the situation with Carter:
“‘And now,’ I said, ‘tell me what is happening to Gathol. The fact that we were attacked last night, coupled with the ring of camp fires encircling the city, suggests that Gathol is besieged by an enemy.’

“‘You are right,’ replied Gan Hor; ‘Gathol is surrounded by the troops of Hin Abtol, who styles himself Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North. He came here some time ago in an ancient and obsolete flier, but as he came in peace he was treated as an honored guest by Gahan. They say that he proved himself an egotistical braggart and an insufferable boor, and ended by demanding that Gahan give him Llana as a wife – he already had seven, he boasted. 

“‘Of course, Gahan told him that Llana of Gathol would chose her own mate; and when Llana refused his proposal, he threatened to come back and take her by force. Then he went away, and the next day our Princess started out for Helium on a ship with twenty-five members of her personal guard. She never reached Helium, nor has she been seen nor heard of since, until you just told me that she is alive and has returned to Gathol. 

“‘But we soon heard from Hin Abtol. He came back with a large fleet of the most ancient and obsolete fliers that I have ever seen; some of his ships must be over a hundred years old. Hin Abtol came back, and he demanded the surrender of Gathol.

“‘His ships were crammed with warriors, thousands of whom leaped overboard and descended upon the city with equilibrimotors. There was fighting in the avenues and upon the roofs of buildings all of one day, but we eventually destroyed or made prisoners of all of them; so, finding that he could not take the city by storm, Hin Abtol laid siege to it.

“‘He has sent all but a few of his ships away, and we believe that they have returned to the frozen north for reinforcements. We who were on herd duty at the beginning of the investment are unable to return to the city, but we are continually harrasssing the warriors of Hin Abtol who are encamped upon the plain.’

“‘So they are using equilibrimotors,’ I said; ‘it seems strange that peoples from the frozen north should have these. They were absolutely unknown in Okar when I was there.’

“The equilibrimotor is an ingenious device for individual flying. It consists of a broad belt, not unlike the life belt used aboard passenger ships on Earth; the belt is filled with the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion, to a sufficient degree to equalize the pull of gravity and thus to maintain a person in equilibrium between that force and the opposite force exerted by the eighth ray. Attached to the back of the belt is a small radium motor, the controls for which are on the front of the belt; while rigidly attached to and projecting from the upper rim of the belt is a strong, light wing with small hand levers for quickly altering its position. I could understand that they might prove very effective for landing enemy troops in the enemy city by night.

“I had listened to Gan Hor with feelings of the deepest concern, for I knew that Gathol was not a powerful country and that a long and persistent siege must assuredly reduce it unless outside help came. Gathol depends for its food supplies upon the plains which comprise practically all of its territory. The far northwest corner of the country is cut by one of Barsoom’s famous canals; and here the grains, and vegetables, and fruits which supply the city are raised; while upon her plains graze the herds which supply her with meat. An enemy surrounding the city would cut off all these supplies; and while Gahan doubtless had reserves stored in the city, they could not last indefinitely.” (LG/III-3.)

Gahan is no exception as a fighting Gatholian. They defeated an air attack by thousands of enemy soldiers in the streets and rooftops in a battle that lasted an entire day. Her herdsmen warriors don’t hesitate to constantly harrass the encamped enemy outside of the mountain city. These guys are wealthy and good looking, but they are mean, tough, brave warriors when push
comes to shove. That about wraps up the information we have about the land of Gathol and its fabled history. And now let us journey to Horz (pronounced, "whores"), where Hin Abtol has left Llana stranded.
Continued in ERBzine 3318a
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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