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Volume 3318a

The Eighth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom 
Part Three: Gathol, Horz...and Opar (continued)

Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.

B) Horz:

At the beginning of Llana of Gathol, John Carter trades his Batman mask that he wore in Swords of Mars for an Indiana Jones hat:
“When I feel that strange urge for solitude coming over me, it is my usual custom to take a one man flier and range the dead sea bottoms and the other uninhabited wildernesses of this dying planet; for there indeed is solitude. There are vast areas on Mars where no human foot has ever trod, and other vast areas that for thousands of years have known only the giant green men, the wandering nomads of the ochre deserts. 

“Sometimes I am away for weeks on these glorious adventures in solitude.  Because of them, I probably know more of the geography and topography of Mars than any other living man; for they and my other adventurous excursions upon the planet have carried me from the Lost Sea of Korus, in the Valley Dor at the frozen South to Okar, land of the black bearded Yellow Men of the frozen North, and from Kaol to Bantoom; and yet there are many parts of Barsoom that I have not visited, which will not seem so strange when there is taken into consideration the fact that although the area of Mars is more than one fourth that of Earth its land area is almost eight million square miles greater. That is because Barsoom has no large bodies of surface water, its largest known ocean being entirely subterranean. Also I think you will admit, fifty-six million square miles is a lot of territory to know thoroughly. 

“Upon the occasion of which I am about to tell you, I flew northwest from Helium, which lies 30 degrees south of the Equator which I crossed about sixteen hundred miles east of Exum, the Barsoomian Greenwich. North and west of me lay a vast, almost unexplored region; and there I thought to find the absolute solitude for which I craved.” (LG/I-1.)

This is a side of John Carter that is new to the reader. Most of the time he appears to be almost psychopathic in his desire to conquer and fight to the death. He was willing to depopulate an entire planet to win Dejah Thoris, and, if a younger man, would have been willing to set Barsoom on fire to win his daughter, Tara of Helium. This is the time-honored martial mentality. But there is also that side of John Carter that expose him as a adventurer-scientistexplorer. We learn about this side as we learn about his deep desire for solitude, the longing of every hermit and prophet. We are reminded of Jesus in this, the other bearer of the initials, “JC.”

As you have probably guessed by now, solitude will be the last thing Carter experiences on this last of his Barsoomian adventures.

“I had set my directional compass upon Horz, the long deserted city of ancient Barsoomian culture, and loafed along at seventy-five miles an hour at an altitude of five hundred to a thousand feet. I had seen some green men northeast of Torquas and had been forced up to escape their fire, which I did not return as I was not seeking adventure; and I had crossed two thin ribbons of red Martian farm land bordering canals that bring the precious waters from the annually melting ice caps at the poles. Beyond these I saw no signs of human life in all the five thousand miles that lie between Lesser Helium and Horz.

“It is always a little saddening to me to look down thus upon a dying world, to scan the endless miles of ochre, mosslike vegetation which carpets the vast areas where once rolled the mighty oceans of a young and virile Mars, to ponder that just beneath me once ranged the proud navies and the merchant ships of a dozen rich and powerful nations where today the fierce banth roams a solitude whose silence is unbroken except for the roars of the killer and the screams of the dying....

“It was about noon of the third day that I sighted the towers of ancient Horz. The oldest part of the city lies upon the edge of a vast plateau; the newer portions, and they are countless thousands of years old, are terraced downward into a great gulf, marking the hopeless pursuit of the receding sea upon the shores of which the rich and powerful city once stood. The last poor, mean structures of a dying race have either disappeared or are only mouldering ruins now; but the splendid structures of her prime remain at the edge of the plateau, mute but eloquent reminders of her vanished grandeur -- enduring monuments to the hiteskinned fair-haired race which has vanished forever.

“I am always interested in these deserted cities of ancient Mars. Little is known of their inhabitants, other than what can be gathered from the stories told by the carvings which ornament the exteriors of many of their public buildings and the few remaining murals which have withstood the ravages of time and the vandalism of the green hordes which has overrun many of them. The extremely low humidity has helped to preserve them, but more than all else was the permanency of their construction. These magnificent edifices were built not for years but for eternities. The secrets of their mortars, their cements, and their pigments have been lost for ages; and for countless ages more, long after the last life has disappeared from the face of Barsoom, their works will remain, hurtling through space forever upon a dead, cold planet with no eye to see, with no mind to appreciate. It is a sad thing to contemplate.

“At last I was over Horz. I had for long promised myself that someday I should come here, for Horz is, perhaps, the oldest and the greatest of the dead cities of Barsoom. Water built it; the lack of water spelled its doom. I often wonder if the people of Earth, who have water in such abundance, really appreciate it. I wonder if the inhabitants of New York City realize what it would mean to them if some enemy, establishing an air base within cruising radius of the first city of the New World, should  uccessfully bomb and destroy Croton dam and the Catskill water system. The railroads and the highways would be jammed with refugees, millions would die, and for years, perhaps forever, New York City would cease to be.” (LG/I-1.)

Yes, the melancholy of ancient lost, deserted, and dead civilizations. ERB wrote this in his early days in Hawaii, when the threat of air bombardment was at its height. We see this fear expressed in ERB’s depiction of a hypothetical air bombing of key strategic water sources on Earth, and in his later depiction of the equilibrimotor assault on Gathol.

Carter sees a red man in a plaza below being pursued by half a dozen fierce green warriors and he gets adventure whether he seeks it or not. Carter lands and engages the green men in combat. Carter discovers to his shock when the first three of the green men are defeated that the red Martian is not red at all, but white. Carter was fooled by the man's deep bronze tan.

In fact there is nothing red Martian about the man at all. His harness and weapons and everything about him differs from what John Carter has experienced on Mars. The man also wears a headdress, consisting of a leather band that ran around his head just above his brows, with another leather band crossing his head from right to left, and another crossing from the front to the rear. 

The bands are highly ornamented with carving and set with jewels and precious metals. In the center of the band that crosses his forehead is fixed a piece of flat gold in the shape of a spearhead with the point up. Inlaid within it is a strange device in black and red. On top of this, or, to me more exact, under this, he has golden hair.

At first Carter assumes the man is a Thern, but dismisses the idea once he learns that the golden hair is not a wig. Then comes a strange passage:

“I also saw that my companion was strangely handsome. I might say beautiful were it not for the effeminateness which the word connotes, and there was nothing effeminate about the way this man fought or the mighty oaths that he swore when he spoke at all to an adversary. We fighting men are not given to much talk, but when you feel your blade cleave a skull in twain or drive through the heart of a foeman, then sometimes a great oath is wrenched from your lips.

“But I had little time then to appraise my companion, for the remaining three were at us again in a moment. I fought that day I suppose, as I have always fought; but each time it seems to me that I have never fought so well as upon that particular occasion. I do not take great credit for my fighting ability, for it seems to me that my sword is inspired. No man could think as quickly as my point moves, always to the right spot at the right time, as though anticipating the next move of an adversary. It weaves a net of steel about me that few blades have ever pierced. It fills the foeman’s eyes with amazement and his mind with doubt and his heart with fear. I imagine that much of my success has been due to the psychological effect of my swordsmanship upon my adversaries.” (LG/I-1.)

Many commentators have remarked that ERB is making fun of himself and his characters in this novel, but I don’t really see this argument at all. This passage tells us all we need to know about the adventures to come when Carter will be challenged by every strong man and swordsmen from Horz to the hothouse city of Pankor, and on to hidden Invak in the Forest of Lost Men.

By this time in the Barsoomian Mythos, we all know that John Carter is the best swordsman on two planets and we marvel in vicarious joy as we experience in our imaginations the exploits of this gifted superman. ERB was not making fun of himself when he wrote this last Barsoomian epic; he was creating the egotistical joy of being and experiencing the mind and exploits of John Carter.

Anyway, Carter and the strange man immediately dispatch two of the green men, but the third escapes. The white man yells not to let him escape:

“He crossed the courtyard where we had been engaged and made for a great archway that opened out into a broad avenue. I was close behind him, having outstripped both him and the strange warrior. When I came into the avenue I saw the green man leap to the back of one of six thoats waiting there, and at the same time I saw at least a hundred warriors pouring from a nearby building. They were yellow-haired white men, garbed like my erstwhile fighting companion, who now joined in the pursuit of the green man. They were armed with bows and arrows; and they sent a volley of missiles after the escaping quarry, whom they could never hope to overtake, and who was soon out of range of their weapons.” (LG/2.)
Carter ends up hopping on another thoat and slaying the green Martian, much to the delight of the white warriors, who have a peculiar way of showing it. He is told the safety of Horz is more important than his and he should be sentenced to death. But because he has performed a great service for them, they decide to take Carter to their Jeddak for a final sentence.

The white man he aided, Pan Dan Chee, apologizes, but is obedient to the laws of Horz.

“I was escorted through still magnificent avenues flanked by beautiful buildings, still beautiful in decay. I think I have never seen such inspiring architecture, nor construction so enduring. I do not know how old these buildings are, but I have heard Martian savants argue that the original dominant race of white-skinned, yellow-haired people flourished fully a million years ago. It seems incredible that their works still exist; but there are many things on Mars incredible to the narrow, earthbound men of our little speck of dust.

“At last we halted before a tiny gate in a colossal, fortress-like edifice in which there was no other opening than this small gate for fifty feet above the ground. From a balcony fifty feet above the gate a sentry looked down upon us.” (LG/I-3.)

There is a tedious answer and response passage before they are admitted after they are informed that the Jeddak will receive them.
“The citadel was an enormous walled city within the ancient city of Horz. It was quite evidently impregnable to any but attack from the air. Within were pleasant avenues, homes, gardens, shops. Happy, carefree people stopped to look at me in astonishment as I was conducted down a broad boulevard toward a handsome building. It was the palace of the Jeddak, Ho Ran Kim.” (LG/I-3.)
The Jeddak is furious at this breach in security. He calls for an explanation and hears about the exploits of Carter with the green Martians threatening Pan Dan Chee. Ho Ran Kim looks at Carter with his penetrating blue eyes.
“‘John Carter,’ he said, ‘what you have done commands the respect and sympathy of every man of Horz. It wins the thanks of their Jeddak, but –’ He hesitated. ‘Perhaps if I tell you something of our history, you will understand why I must condemn you to death.’ He paused for a moment, as though in thought. 

“At the same time I was doing a little thinking on my own account. The casual manner in which Ho Ran Kim had sentenced me to death had rather taken my breath away. He seemed so friendly that it didn’t seem possible that he was in earnest, but a glance at the glint in those blue eyes assured me that he was not being facetious.

“‘I am sure,’ I said, ‘that the history of Horz must be most interesting; but right now I am most interested in learning why I should have to die for befriending a fighting man of Horz.’

“‘That I shall explain,’ he said.

“‘It is going to take a great deal of explaining, your majesty,’ I assured him.

“He paid no attention to that, but continued. ‘The inhabitants of Horz are, as far as we know, the sole remaining remnant of the once dominant race of Barsoom, the Orovars. A million years ago our ships ranged the five great oceans, which we ruled. The city of Horz was not only the capital of a great empire, it was the seat of learning and culture of the most glorious race of human beings a world has ever known. Our empire spread from pole to pole. There were other races on Barsoom, but they were few in numbers and negligible in importance. We looked upon them as inferior creatures. The Orovars owned Barsoom, which was divided among a score of powerful jeddaks. They were a happy, prosperous, contented people, the various nations seldom warring upon one another. Horz had enjoyed a thousand years of peace.

“‘They had reached the ultimate pinnacle of civilization and perfection when the first shadow of impending fate darkened their horizons – the seas began to recede, the atmosphere to grow more tenuous. What science had long predicted was coming to pass -- a world was dying.

“‘For ages our cities followed the receding waters. Straits and bays, canals and lakes dried up. Prosperous seaports became deserted inland cities. Famine came. Hungry hordes made war upon the more fortunate. The growing hordes of wild green men overran what had once been fertile farm land, preying upon all.

“‘The atmosphere became so tenuous that it was difficult to breathe. Scientists were working upon an atmosphere plant, but before it was completed and in successful operation all but a few of the inhabitants of Barsoom had died. Only the hardiest survived -- the green men, the red men, and a few Orovars; then life became merely a battle for the survival of the fittest.

“‘The green men hunted us as we had hunted beasts of prey. They gave us no rest, they showed us no mercy. We were few; they were many. Horz became our last city of refuge, and our only hope of survival lay in preventing the outside world from knowing that we existed; therefore, for ages we have slain every stranger who came to Horz and saw an Orovar, that no man might go away and betray our presence to our enemies.

“‘Now you will understand that no matter how deeply we must regret the necessity, it is obvious that we cannot allow you live.’

“‘I can understand,’ I said, ‘that you might feel it necessary to destroy an enemy; but I see no reason for destroying a friend. However, that is for you to decide.’

“‘It is already decided, my friend,’ said the Jeddak. ‘You must die.’

“‘Just a moment, O Jeddak!’ exclaimed Pan Dan Chee. ‘Before you pass final judgment, consider this alternative. If he remains here in Horz, he cannot carry word to our enemies. We owe him a debt of gratitude. Permit him then to live, but always within the walls of the citadel.’” (LG/I-4.)

This suggestion meets with everyone’s approval and Ho Ran Kim puts off the death sentence until the next day. In the meantime he sends Carter and Pan Dan Chee – who unfortunately must share Carter’s fate – to the Pits.
“I have never seen such courteous and considerate people as the Orovars; it might almost be a pleasure to have one’s throat slit by one of them, he would be so polite about it. They are the absolute opposites of their hereditary enemies, the green men; for these are endowed with neither courtesy, consideration, nor kindness. They are cold, cruel, abysmal brutes to whom love is unknown and whose creed is hate.” (LG/I-5.)
Pan Dan Chee fights and kills an ulsio, the Martian rat, and he looks for something to wipe the blood off his sword. Carter helps him look and opens a nearby chest: 
“The chest was about seven feet long, two and a half wide and two deep. In it lay the body of a man. His elaborate harness was encrusted with jewels. He wore a helmet entirely covered with diamonds, one of the few helmets I had ever seen upon Mars. The scabbards of his long-sword, his short-sword, and his dagger were similarly emblazoned.

“He had been a very handsome man, and he was still a handsome corpse. So perfectly was he preserved that, in so far as appearances went, he might still have been alive but for the thin layer of dust overlying his features. When I blew this away he looked quite as alive and you or I. 

“‘You bury your dead here?’ I asked Pan Dan Chee, but he shook his head.

“‘No,’ he replied. ‘This chap may have been here a million years.’

“‘Nonsense!’ I exclaimed. ‘He would have dried up and blown away thousands of years ago.’

“‘I don’t know about that,’ said Pan Dan Chee. ‘There were lots of things those old fellows knew that are lost arts today. Embalming, I know, was one of them. There is the legend of Lee Um Lo, the most famous embalmer of all time. It recounts that his work was so perfect that not even the corpse, himself, knew that he was dead; and upon several occasions they arose and walked out during the funeral services. The end of Lee Um Lo came when the wife of a great jeddak failed to realize that she was dead and walked right in on the jeddak, and his new wife. The next day Lee Um Lo lost his head.” (LG/I-5.)

Carter strips the corpse of his trappings and weapons and carries on an absurd conversation with Pan Dan Chee about whether the corpse may still be alive. They step out into a corridor and see a distant light, but they cannot find the source. Then Carter informs Pan Dan Chee that he doesn’t plan on being murdered by the Orovars and plans to find a way out of the pits and Pan Dan Chee tells him it will be his duty to stop him and they will have to fight to the death. They decide they don’t have to kill each other just yet and sit down to play a game of Jetan.
“I opened the leather pocket pouch such as all Martians carry, and took out a tiny, folding Jetan board with all the pieces -- a present from Dejah Thoris, my incomparable mate. Pan Dan Chee was intrigued by it, and it is a marvelously beautiful piece of work. The greatest artist of Helium had designed the pieces, which had been carved under his guidance by two of our greatest sculptors. 

“Each of the pieces, such as Warriors, Padwars, Dwars, Panthans, and Chiefs, were carved in the likeness of well-known Martian fighting men; and one of the Princesses was a beautifully executed miniature carving of Tara of Helium, and the other Princess, Llana of Gathol.

“I am inordinately proud of this Jetan set; and because the figures are so tiny, I always carry a small but powerful reading glass, not alone that I may enjoy them but that others may. I offered it now to Pan Dan Chee, who examined the figures minutely.

“‘Extraordinary,’ he said. ‘I have never seen anything more beautiful.’ He had examined one figure much longer than he had the others, and he held it in his hand as though loath to relinquish it. ‘What an exquisite imagination the artist must have had who created this figure, for he could have had no model for such gorgeous beauty; since nothing like it exists on Barsoom.’

“‘Every one of those figures was carved from life,’ I told him.

“‘Perhaps the others,’ he said, ‘but not this one. No such beautiful woman ever lived.’

“‘Which one is it?’ I asked, and he handed it to me. ‘This,’ I said, ‘is Llana of Gathol, the daughter of Tara of Helium, who is my daughter. She really lives, and this is a most excellent likeness of her. Of course it cannot do her justice since it cannot reflect her animation nor the charm of her personality.’ 

“He took the little figurine back and held it for a long time under the glass; then he replaced it in the box. ‘Shall we play?’ I asked.

“He shook his head. ‘It would be sacrilege,’ he said, ‘to play at a game with the figure of a goddess.’” (LG/I-6.)

They finally have it out but Pan Dan Chee offers no real fight because he cannot kill one whose blood flows in the same veins as Llana of Gathol’s. He tells Carter that he does not wish to die, but wishes to live to see Llana of Gathol. Carter suggests he escape with him for Horz is only four thousand haads away.
“Now I am no matchmaker; nor neither do I believe in standing in the way to prevent the meeting of a man and a maid. I believe in letting nature take her course. If Pan Dan Chee thought he was in love with Llana of Gathol and wished to go to Gathol and try to win her, I only would have discouraged the idea had he been a man of low origin or of a dishonorable nature. He was neither. The race to which he belonged is the oldest of the cultured races of Barsoom, and Pan Dan Chee had proved himself a man of honor.

“I had no reason to believe that his suit would meet with any success. Llana of Gathol was still very young, but even so the swords of some of the greatest houses of Barsoom had been laid at her feet. Like nearly all Martian women of high degree she knew her mind. Like so many of them, she might be abducted by some impetuous suitor; and she would either love him or slip a dagger between his ribs, but she would never mate with a man she did not love. I was more fearful for Pan Dan Chee than I was for Llana of Gathol.” (LG/I-7.)

They see the light again and hear a laugh. They follow it:
“I reached the doorway, and as I stepped into the opening I had a momentary glimpse of a strange figure; and then all was plunged into darkness and a hollow laugh reverberated through the Stygian blackness of the pits of Horz. 

“In my right hand I held the long-sword of that long dead Orovaran from whose body I had filched it. In my left had I held the amazing torch of the Horzians. When the light in the chamber was extinguished, I pushed up the thumb button of my torch; and the apartment before me was flooded with light.

“I saw a large chamber filled with many chests. There was a simple couch, a bench, a table, bookshelves filled with books, an ancient Martian stove, a reservoir of water, and the strangest figure of a man my eyes had ever rested upon. 

“I rushed at him and held my sword against his heart, for I did not wish him to escape. He cowered and screamed, beseeching his life. 

“‘We want water,’ I said; ‘water and food. Give us these and offer us no harm, and you will be safe.’

“‘Help yourselves,’ he said. ‘There is water and food here, but tell me who you are and how you got here to the pits of ancient Horz, dead Horz – dead for countless ages. I have been waiting for ages for someone to come, and now you have come. You are welcome. We shall be great friends. You shall stay here with me forever, as all the countless others have. I shall have company in the lonely pits of Horz.’ Then he laughed maniacally.

“It was evident that the creature was quite mad. He not only looked it, he acted it. Sometimes his speech was inarticulate gibber; often it was broken by meaningless and inopportune laughter – the hollow laugh that we had heard before.

“He appearance was most repulsive. He was naked except for the harness which supported a sword and a dagger, and the skin of his malformed body was a ghastly white -- the color of a corpse. His flabby mouth hung open, revealing a few yellow, snaggled fangs. His eyes were wide and round, the whites showing entirely around the irises. He had no nose; it appeared to have been eaten away by disease.” (LG/I-8.)

They keep a close eye on the man as they drink but Pan Dan Chee declines to eat when he discovers that the meat is that of an ulsio. Carter asks him if he knows a way out of the pits and the old man tells them that they have to rest first.
“I had always heard that it is best to humor the insane; and as I was asking a favor of this creature, it seemed the wise thing to do. Furthermore, both Pan Dan Chee and I were very tired; so we lay down on the couch and the old man drew up a bench and sat down beside us. He commenced to talk in a low, soothing voice.

“‘You are very tired,’ he said, over and over again monotonously, his great eyes fixed first upon one of us and then upon the other. I felt my muscles relaxing. I saw Pan Dan Chee’s lids drooping. ‘Soon you will be asleep,’ whispered the old man of the pits. ‘You will sleep and sleep and sleep, perhaps for ages as have these others. You will only awaken when I tell you to or when I die – and I shall never die. You robbed Hor Kai Lan of his harness and weapons.’ He looked at me as he spoke. ‘Hor Kai Lan would be very angry were he to awaken and find that you have stolen his weapons, but Hor Kai Lan will not awaken. He has been asleep for so many ages that even I have forgotten. It is in my book, but what difference does it make? What difference does it make who wears the harness of Hor Kai Lan? No one will ever uses his swords again; and, anyway, when Ro Tan Bim is gone, maybe I shall use Hor Kai Lan. Maybe I shall use you. Who knows?’” (LG/I-8.)

Carter realizes in time that he is being hypnotized and puts up a strong mental resistance. He realizes the creature intends to eat him. The old man realizes that Carter is winning the mind contest and pulls out his dagger. Carter finally breaks free and lops  off the old man’s head with his long-sword. The old man’s death frees all of his past victims. In the next few moments the chests begin opening and Orovars, long dead, come back to life.
“‘What is the meaning of this?’ demanded a large man, magnificently trapped. ‘Who brought me here? Who are you?’ He looked around him, evidently bewildered, as though searching for some familiar face. 

“‘Perhaps I can enlighten you,’ I said. ‘We are in the pits of Horz. I have only been here a few hours, but if this dead thing on the floor spoke the truth some of you have been here for ages. You have been held by the hypnotic power of this mad creature. His death has freed you.’ 

“The man looked down at the staring head upon the floor. ‘Lum Tar O!’ he exclaimed. ‘He sent for me – asked me to come and see him on an important matter. And you have killed him. You must account to me – tomorrow. Now I must return to my guests.’

“There was a thin layer of dust on the man’s face and body. By that I knew that he must have been here a long time, and presently my surmise was substantiated in a most dramatic manner.’” (LG/I-9)

The Orovar, Kam Han Tor, has an amusing conversation with another Orovar and discovers that he had left his guests twenty years before the other had been hypnotized. He apologizes to Carter, now realizing what a horrible monster Lum Tar O was. He broods:
“‘Twenty years!’ repeated Kam Han Tor, as though he still could not believe it. ‘My great ship! It was to have sailed from the harbor of Horz the day following my banquet – the greatest ship that had ever been built. Now it is old, perhaps obsolete; and I have never seen it. Tell me – did it sail well? Is it still a proud ship?’

“‘I saw it as it sailed out upon Throxeus,’ said the other. ‘It was a proud ship indeed, but it never returned from that first voyage; nor was any word ever heard of it. It must have been lost with all hands.’ 

“Kam Han Tor shook his head sadly, and then he straightened up and squared his shoulders. ‘I shall build another,’ he said, ‘an even greater ship, to sail the mightiest of Barsoom’s five seas.’

“Now I commenced to understand what I had suspected but could not believe. It was absolutely astounding. I was looking at and conversing with men who had lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, when Throxeus and the other four oceans of ancient Mars had covered what are now the vast desert wastes of dead sea bottoms; when a great merchant marine carried on the commerce of the fair-skinned, blond race that had supposedly been extinct for countless ages.” (LG/I-9.)

Carter attempts to inform Kan Tan Hor that Throxeus no longer exists, but the man thinks he is mad. Carter gives up and asks if he knows a way out of the pits. Of course he does, for he was the one who drew up the plans for the pits. Carter explains that by leaving the pits he will be able to prove Throxeus is no more. Just then they are disturbed by a large man entering the chamber:
“As the man finished speaking there was a commotion at the entrance to the chamber. A large man, almost naked, rushed in. He was very angry. ‘What is the meaning of this?’ he demanded. ‘What am I doing here? What are you all doing here? Who stole my harness and my weapons?’ 

“It was then that I recognized him – Hor Kai Lan, whose metal I wore. He was very much excited, and I couldn’t blame him much. He forced his way through the crowd, and the moment he laid eyes upon me he recognized his belongings.

“‘Thief!’ he cried. ‘Give me back my harness and my weapons!’

“‘I’m sorry,’ I said; ‘but unless you will furnish me with others, I shall have to keep these.’

“‘Calot!’ he fairly screamed. ‘Do you realize to whom you are speaking? I am Hor Kai Lan, brother of the jeddak.’

“Kam Han Tor looked at him in amazement. ‘You have been dead over five hundred years, Hor Kai Lan,’ he exclaimed, ‘and so has your brother. My brother succeeded the last jeddak in the year 27M382J4.’

“‘You have all been dead for ages,’ said Pan Dan Chee. ‘Even that calendar is a thing of the dead past.’

“I thought Hor Kai Lan was going to burst a blood vessel then. ‘Who are you?’ he screamed. ‘I place you under arrest. I place you all under arrest. Ho! the guard!’” (LG/I-9.)

Together, they calm him down and they all agree to go to the quays so that Carter can prove to them there is no Throxeus. As they begin to leave, Carter sees the lid of one of the chests move, then he hears his name called from the same direction.
“As I started to investigate, the lid of the chest was thrown aside; and a girl stepped out before me. This was more surprising than my first ancestor would have been, for the girl was Llana of Gathol!

“‘Llana!’ I cried; ‘what are you doing here?’

“‘I might ask you the same question, my revered progenitor,’ she shot back, with that lack of respect for my great age which has always characterized those closest to me in bonds of blood and affection.

“Pan Dan Chee came forward rather open-mouthed and goggle-eyed.

‘Llana of Gathol!’ he whispered as one might voice the name of a goddess. The roomful of anachronisms looked on more or less apathetically.

“‘Who is this person?’ demanded Llana of Gathol.

“‘My friend, Pan Dan Chee of Horz,’ I explained.

“Pan Dan Chee unbuckled his sword and laid it at her feet, an act which is rather difficult to explain by Earthly standards of conduct. It is not exactly an avowal of love or a proposal of marriage. It is, in a way, something even more sacred. It means that as long as life lasts that sword is at the service of him at whose feet it has been laid. A warrior may lay his sword at the feet of a man or a woman. It means lifetime loyalty. Where the object of that loyalty is a woman, the man may have something else in mind. I am sure that Pan Dan Chee did. 

“‘Your friend acts with amazing celerity,’ said Llana of Gathol; but she stooped and picked up the sword and handed it back to Pan Dan Chee hilt first! which meant that she was pleased and accepted his offer of fealty. Had she simply refused it, she would have left the sword lying there where it had been placed. Had she wished to spurn his offer, she would have returned his sword to him point first. That would have been the final and deadly insult. I was glad that Llana of Gathol had returned Pan Dan Chee’s sword hilt first, as I rather liked Pan Dan Chee. I was particulary glad that she had not returned it point first; as that would have meant that I, as the closest male relative of Llana of Gathol available, would have had to fight Pan Dan Chee; and I certainly did not want to kill him.

“‘Well,’ interrupted Kam Han Tor, ‘this is all very interesting and touching; but can’t we postpone it until we have gone down to the quays.’” (LG/I-10.)

On the way out of the pits, Llana relates how she was abducted by Hin Abtol and how she managed to escape and hide in the chest. As they come out of the pits, the Orovars get a mighty surprise:
“‘In a few moments,’ said Kam Han Tor, ‘we shall be looking upon the broad waters of Throxeus.’

“I shook my head. ‘Do not be too disappointed,’ I said.

“‘Are you and your friend in league to perpetuate a hoax upon me?’ demanded Kam Han Tor. ‘Only yesterday I saw the ships of the fleet lying at anchor off the quay. Do you think me a fool, that you tell me there is no longer any ocean where an ocean was yesterday, where it has been since the creation of Barsoom? Oceans do not disappear overnight, my friend.’

“There was a murmur of approval from those of the fine company of nobles and their women who were within earshot. They were loath to believe what they did not wish to believe and what, I realized, must have seemed an insult to their intelligence.

“Put yourself in their place. Perhaps you live in San Francisco. You go to bed one night. When you awaken, a total stranger tells you that the Pacific Ocean has dried up and that you may walk to Honolulu or Guam or the Philippines. I’m quite sure that you wouldn’t believe him.

“As we came up into the broad avenue that led to the ancient sea front of Horz, that assembly of gorgeously trapped men and women looked about them in dumbfounded astonishment upon the crumbling ruins of their once proud city.

“‘Where are the people?’ demanded one. ‘Why is the Avenue of Jeddaks deserted?’

“‘And the palace of the jeddak!’ exclaimed another. ‘There are no guards.’

“‘There is no one!’ gasped a woman.

“No one commented, as they pushed on eagerly toward the quay. Before they got there they were already straining their eyes out across a barren desert of dead sea bottom where once the waters of Throxeus had rolled.

“In silence they continued on to the Avenue of Quays. They simply could not believe the testimony of their own eyes. I cannot recall ever having felt sorrier for any of my fellow men than I did at that moment for these poor people.

“‘It is gone,’ said Kam Han Tor in a scarcely audible whisper.

“A woman sobbed. A warrior drew his dagger and plunged it into his own heart.

“‘And all our people are gone,’ said Kam Han Tor. ‘Our very world is gone.’

“They stood there looking out across that desert waste; behind them a dead city that, in their last yesterday, had teemed with life and youth and energy.

“And then a strange thing happened. Before my eyes, Kam Han Tor commenced to shrink and crumble. He literally disintegrated, he and the leather of his harness. His weapons clattered to the pavement and lay there in a little pile of dust that had been Kam Han Tor, the brother of a jeddak.

“Llana of Gathol pressed close to me and siezed my arm. ‘It is horrible,’ she whispered. ‘Look! Look at the others!’

“I looked about me. Singly, in groups of two or three, the men and women of ancient Horz were returning to the dust from which they had sprung – ‘Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust!’

“‘For all the ages that they have lain in the pits of Horz,’ said Pan Dan Chee, ‘this disintegration has been going slowly on. Only Lum Tar O’s obscene powers gave them a semblance of life. With that removed final dissolution came quickly.’

“‘That must be the explanation,’ I said. ‘It is well that it is so, for those people never could have found happiness in the Barsoom of today -- a dying world, so unlike the glorious world of Barsoom in the full flush of her prime, with her five oceans, her great cities, her happy, prosperous peoples, who, if history speaks the truth, had finally overthrown all the war lords and war mongerers and established peace from pole to pole.’

“‘No,’ said Llana of Gathol, ‘they could never have been happy again. Did you notice what handsome people they were? and the color of their skins was the same as yours, John Carter. But for their blond hair they might have been from your own Earth.’

“‘There are many blond people on Earth,’ I told her. ‘Maybe, after all the races of Earth have intermarried for many ages, we shall develop a race of red men, as has Barsoom. Who knows?’” (LG/I-12.)

Pan Dan Chee reminds Carter that they must fight to the death, but Llana has the final say since Pan Dan Chee has laid his sword at her feet. She chooses that he come with them to Gathol rather than dying by the sword of John Carter. They all go through several more exciting adventures before they all return safe and sound to Gathol and Helium.
“I had brought with me Jad-han and Pan Dan Chee, whom we found among the prisoners of the Panars; and though I was not present at the meeting between Pan Dan Chee and Llana of Gathol, Dejah Thoris has assured me that the dangers and vicissitudes he had suffered for love of the fair Gatholian had not been in vain.” (LG/IV-13.)
Note that ERB did not say that they got married. And now back to Earth and Opar.

C) Opar:

For this section we will assume that Opar was a colony of Atlantis which was founded on Earth by the Orovars or Lotharians or some other ancient sea power on Barsoom. The links will be explained fully in the Analysis section below. Tarzan first hears about Opar during a wild orgy in an African village in The Return of Tarzan. During the dancing Tarzan is intrigued by the gold ornaments the villagers wear:
“It was during this dance that the ape-man first noticed that some of the men and many of the women wore ornaments of gold – principally anklets and armlets of great weight, apparently beaten out of the solid material. When he expressed a wish to examine one of these, the owner removed it from her person and insisted, through the medium of signs, that Tarzan accept it as a gift. A close scrutiny of the bauble convinced the ape-man that the article was of virgin gold.” (RT/15.)
Tarzan is intrigued because he has never seen nor heard of golden ornaments among the savages of Africa. Through further inquiries, he discovers that the gold comes from Opar, a lost city in the jungle. He arranges an expedition and they finally discover the hidden city: 
“But before him was the view that centered his attention. Here lay a desolate valley – a shallow, narrow valley dotted with stunted trees and covered with many great boulders. And on the far side of the valley lay what appeared to be a mighty city, its great walls, its lofty spires, its turrets, its minarets, and domes showing red and yellow in the sunlight. Tarzan was yet too far away to note the marks of ruin – to him it appeared a wonderful city of magnificent beauty, and in imagination he peopled its broad avenues and its huge temples with a throng of happy, active people....

“The outer wall was fifty feet in height where it had not fallen into ruin, but nowhere as far as they could see had more than ten or twenty feet of the upper courses fallen away. It was still a formidable defense.” (RT/19.)

They camp outside the city walls for the night and Tarzan has a hard time keeping the natives from running away in fear. The next day they explore the walls for an entrance:
“For fifteen minutes they marched along the face of the wall before they discovered a means of ingress. Within, a flight of concrete steps, worn hollow by centuries of use, rose before them, to disappear at a sharp turning of the passage  a few yards ahead.

“Into this narrow valley Tarzan made his way, turning his giant shoulders sideways that they might enter at all. Behind him trailed his black warriors. At the turn in the cleft the stairs ended, and the path was level; but it wound and twisted in a serpentine fashion, until suddenly at a sharp angle it debouched upon a narrow court, across which loomed an inner wall equally as high as the outer. This inner wall was set with little round towers alternating along its entire summit with pointed monoliths. In places these had fallen, and the wall was ruined, but it was in a much better state of preservation than the outer wall.

“Another narrow passage led through this wall, and at its end Tarzan and his warriors found themselves in a broad avenue, on the opposite side of which crumbling edifices of hewn granite loomed dark and forbidding. Upon the crumbled debris along the face of the buildings trees had grown, and vines wound in and out of the hollow, staring windows, but the building directly opposite them seemed less overgrown than the others, and in a much better state of preservation. It was a massive pile, surmounted by an enormous dome. At either side of its great entrance stood rows of tall pillars, each capped by a huge grotesque bird carved from the solid rock of the monoliths.” (RT/19.)

The reader can already discern familiar features between Opar and the ancient Martian dead sea bottom cities. They become aware of movement within the ancient temple. Tarzan enters alone into the domelike rotunda:
“The floor of the chamber was of concrete, the walls of smooth granite, upon which strange figures of men and beasts were carved. In places tablets of  yellow metal had been set in the solid masonry of the walls.

“When he approached closer to one of these tablets he saw that it was of gold, and bore many hieroglyphics. Behind this first chamber there were others, and back of them the building branched out into enormous wings. Tarzan passed through several of these chambers, finding many evidences of the fabulous wealth of the original builders. In one room were seven pillars of solid gold, and in another the floor itself was of the precious metal.” (RT/19.)

Tarzan explores further and finally is trapped in a pitch black room where he set upon my unseen enemies:
“Presently they lifted him from the floor, and half dragging, half pushing him, they brought him out of the dark chamber through another doorway into an inner courtyard of the temple. Here he saw his captors. There must have been a hundred of them -- short, stocky men, with great beards that covered their faces and fell upon their hairy breasts.

“The thick, matted hair upon their heads grew low over their receding brows, and hung about their shoulders and their backs. Their crooked legs were short and heavy, their arms long and muscular. About their loins they wore the skins of leopards and lions, and great necklaces of the claws of these same animals depended upon their breasts. Massive circlets of virgin gold adorned their arms and legs. For weapons they carried heavy, knotted bludgeons, and in the belts that confined their single garments each had a long, wicked-looking knife.

“But the feature of them that made the most startling impression upon their prisoner was their white skins – neither in color nor feature was there a trace of the negroid about them. Yet, with their receding foreheads, wicked little closeset eyes, and yellow fangs, they were far from prepossessing in appearance.” (RT/19.)

They leave Tarzan bound on the floor of the inner court of the temple while they troop off to another part of the temple. Tarzan takes in the scene:
“As Tarzan lay there upon his back he saw that the temple entirely surrounded the little inclosure, and that on all sides its lofty walls rose high above him. At the top a little patch of blue sky was visible, and, in one direction, through an embrasure, he could see foilage, but whether it was beyond or in the temple he did not know.

“About the court, from the ground to the top of the temple, were series of open galleries, and now and then the captive caught glimpses of bright eyes gleaming from beneath masses of tumbling hair, peering down upon him from above.” (RT/19.)

He dozes then hears the pattering of feet, and soon the galleries above are full of the hairy men who being to chant. Some of them are on the main floor slowly circling Tarzan, stepping with their feet and chanting, and all of a sudden they rush him.
“At the same instant a female figure dashed into the midst of the bloodthirsty horde, and, with a bludgeon similar to their own, except that it was wrought from gold, beat back the advancing men.” (RT/19.)
She beats off the men with her golden club and then Tarzan realizes it is all part of an elaborate ritual. The girl takes a knife and cuts his bonds. She takes the rope that had been tied around his legs and puts it around Tarzan’s neck and then leads him across the courtyard, through winding corridors, into the remoter parts of the temple. They wind up in a vast chamber where an altar stands in the center:
“Then it was that Tarzan translated the strange ceremony that had preceded his introduction into this holy of holies.

“He had fallen into the hands of descendants of the ancient sun worshippers. His seeming rescue by a votaress of the high priestess of the sun had been but a part of the mimicry of their heathen ceremony – the sun looking down upon through the opening at the top of the court had claimed him as his own, and the priestess had come from the inner temple to save him from the polluting hands of worldlings – to save him as a human offering to their flaming deity.” (RT/20.)

Tarzan receives confirmation of his view by spotting dried blood stains on the altar and the floor, not to mention the human skulls that hung in the niches of the galleries. 

“The priestess led the victim to the altar steps. Again the galleries above filled with watchers, while from an arched doorway at the east end of the chamber a procession of females filed slowly into the room. They wore, like the men, only skins of wild animals caught about their waists with rawhide belts or chains of gold; but the black masses of their hair were encrusted with golden headgear composed of many circular and oval pieces of gold ingeniously held together to form a metal cap from which depended, at each side of the head, long strings of oval pieces falling to the waist.

“The females were more symmetrically proportioned than the males, their features were much more perfect, the shapes of their heads and their large, soft black eyes denoting far greater intelligence and humanity than was possessed by their lords and masters.

“Each priestess bore two golden cups, and as they formed in line along one side of the altar the men formed opposite them, advancing and taking each a cup from the females opposite. Then the chant began once more, and presently from a dark passageway beyond the altar another female emerged from the cavernous depths beneath the chamber.

“The high priestess, thought Tarzan. She was a young woman with a rather intelligent and shapely face. Her ornaments were similar to those worn by her votaries, but much more elaborate, many being set with diamonds. Her bare arms and legs were almost concealed by the massive, bejeweled ornaments which covered them, while her single leopard skin was supported by a close-fitting girdle of golden rings set in strange designs with innumerable small diamonds. In the girdle she carried a long, jeweled knife, and in her hand a slender wand in lieu of a bludgeon.

“As she advanced to the opposite side of the altar she halted, and the chanting ceased. The priests and priestesses knelt before her, while with wand extended above him she recited a long and tiresome prayer. Her voice was soft and musical – Tarzan could scarce realize that its possessor in a moment more would be transformed by the fanatical ecstasy of religious zeal into a wild-eyed and bloodthirsty executioner, who, with dripping knife, would be the first to drink her victim’s red, warm blood from the little golden cup that stood upon the altar.” (RT/20.)

Then her eyes feast on Tarzan’s magnificent form. A commotion ensues between the brute men and the women, Tarzan escapes with La into a hidden chamber. Tarzan discovers that she speaks the ancient tongue of the great apes and with that in common she tells him the history of Opar:
“‘I am La, high priestess of the Temple of the Sun, in the city of Opar. We are descendants of a people who came to this savage world more than ten thousand years ago in search of gold. Their cities stretched from a great sea under the rising sun to a great sea into which the sun descends at night to cool his flaming brow. They were very rich and very powerful, but they lived only a few months of the year in their magnificent palaces here; the rest of the time they spent in their native land, far, far to the north.

“‘Many ships went back and forth between this new world and the old. During the rainy season there were but few of the inhabitants remained here, only those who superintended the working of the mines by the black slaves, and the merchants who had to stay to supply their wants, and the soldiers who guarded the cities and the mines.

“‘It was at one of these times that the great calamity occurred. When the time came for the teeming thousands to return none came. For weeks the people waited. Then they sent out a great galley to learn why no one came from the mother country, but though they sailed about for many months, they were unable to find any trace of the mighty land that had for countless ages borne their ancient civilization – it had sunk into the sea. 

“‘From that day dated the downfall of my people. Disheartened and unhappy, they soon became a prey to the black hordes of the north and the black hordes of the south. One by one the cities were deserted or overcome. The last remnant was finally forced to take shelter within this mighty mountain fortress. Slowly we have dwindled in power, in civilization, in intellect, in numbers, until now we are no more than a small tribe of savage apes.

“‘In fact, the apes live with us, and have for many ages. We call them the first men -- we speak their language quite as much as we do our own; only in the rituals of the temple do we make any attempt to retain our mother tongue. In time it will be forgotten, and we will speak only the language of the apes; in time we will no longer banish those of our people who mate with apes, and so in time we shall descend to the very beasts from which ages ago our progenitors may have sprung.’

“‘But why are you more human than the others?’ asked the man.

“‘For some reason the women have not reverted to savagery so rapidly as the men. It may be because only the lower types of men remained here at the time of the great catastrophe, while the temples were filled with the noblest daughters of the race. My strain has remained clearer than the rest for countless ages my foremothers were high priestesses – the sacred office descends from mother to daughter. Our husbands are chosen for us from the noblest in the land. The most perfect man, mentally and physically, is selected to be the husband of the high priestess.’” (RT/20.)

Tarzan is locked inside the Chamber of the Dead until La can figure out what to do with him, but he discovers a secret passage that leads him eventually to a massive stash of gold bars. Tarzan will periodically dip into this treasure every time he loses money on the stock market or in real estate. But you get the idea: Opar suffered a similar fate as Horz and Lothar.

All right, first the similarities between the ancient race and Opar. First, the Orovars, Lotharians, Therns, the inhabitants of Thuria, and the Oparians, all have white skin. Their hair color varies between auburn, blond, blue, and black. The Therns are obviously descendents of the Orovars, but through mutation they have lost their hair. If we follow our theory through we can speculate that the white race on Earth originated on Mars. Their cities are almost exactly the same, except that the colonies -- Thuria and
Atlantis/Opar -- use stairways instead of inclined ramps. They all use hieroglyphs for their writing. The ancient race and the Oparians were both seafarers. They all suffered a similar fate when on Mars the oceans evaporated while on Earth Atlantis sunk beneath the waves. On Barsoom the ancient ones were hounded by the green hordes, while the Oparians are hounded by
black hordes from the north and south. 

They all are powered with superhuman minds that are able to hypnotize normal people with powerful suggestions. Opar appears to be an exception to this rule, but they have undergone years of degeneracy.

They all practice some kind of solar worship. Issus and Opar each have a Temple of the Sun, and on Thuria, they worship the Flaming God of the sun.

Interplanetary space travel was created in the lifetime of John Carter on Barsoom, so it cannot be ruled out that the ancient race had not invented it. We are forced to assume it in the case of Thuria. Of course, ERB may never had any such thing in mind, but with all these similarities, it is a wonder why he never explicitly stated the connection. I made it the first time I read a Tarzan novel and read of Opar. I kept waiting for ERB to make the connection in subsequent Tarzan novels but he never did.

A fan even wrote a highly controversial work called Tarzan on Mars (see ERBzine #1966) that not only makes such a connection, but makes a genealogical connection between Issus and La. Anyway, it is fun to speculate on the data ERB has given us. It just shows how the imagination of this one man worked. I am grateful that ERB gave his imaginary planet an Atlantis myth. It makes it that much more real.

“Way down below the ocean, 
Where I wanna be, 
She made me."
– Donovan, "Atlantis."

And there you have it, ERB's Gathol, Horz, and Opar:
Part Three of the Eighth Runner-Up of in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom!

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.2.3.4  

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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