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Volume 3381
The Eleventh Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom 
Part Five

Tars Tarkas
Rafael Kayanan Gallery
J. Allen St. John
Thark Warrior by J. Allen St. John
ERBzine Thark Galleries

Thark Green Man
Rafael Kayanan Gallery
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.

C) Tars Tarkas Triumphant

A strange new idea has entered into the mind of Tars Tarkas: the idea of friendship. In fact, the title of chapter 24 of A Princess of Mars is called “Tars Tarkas Finds a Friend.” One might at first think that this idea might diminish the ability of Tars Tarkas to have a psychological edge in combat, but you would be wrong.

In fact, Tars Tarkas, his secret wife and their daughter, Sola, are mutations among the Green Men, evidence of evolving higher consciousness in the minds of certain individuals.

These new factors of friendship and love make him even a greater warrior than before, as witnessed in the following scene after the great battle with the Warhoons.

“On our return to the city after the battle we had gone directly to Tars Tarkas’ quarters, where I was left alone while the chieftan attended the customary council which immediately follows an engagement.

“As I sat awaiting the return of the green warrior I heard something move in an adjoining apartment, and as I glanced up there rushed suddenly upon me a huge and hideous creature which bore me backward upon the pile of silks and furs upon which I had been reclining. It was Woola – faithful, loving Woola. He had found his way back to Thark and, as Tars Tarkas later told me, had gone immediately to my former quarters where he had taken up his pathetic and seemingly hopeless watch for my return.

“‘Tal Hajus knows that you are here, John Carter,’ said Tars Tarkas, on his return from the jeddak’s quarters; ‘Sarkoja saw and recognized you as we were returning. Tal Hajus as ordered me to bring you before him tonight. I have ten thoats, John Carter; you may take your choice from among them, and I will accompany you to the nearest waterway that leads to Helium. Tars Tarkas may be a cruel green warrior, but he can be a friend as well. Come, we must start.’

“‘And when you return, Tars Tarkas?’ I asked.

“‘The wild calots, possibly, or worse,’ he replied. ‘Unless I should chance to have the opportunity I have so long waited of battling with Tal Hajus.’

“‘We will stay, Tars Tarkas, and see Tal Hajus tonight. You shall not sacrifice yourself, as it may be that tonight you can have the chance you wait.’

“He objected strenuously, saying that Tal Hajus often flew into wild fits of passion at the mere thought of the blow I had dealt him, and if ever he laid his hands upon me I would be subjected to the most horrible tortures.

“While we were eating I repeated to Tars Tarkas the story which Sola had told me that night upon the sea bottom during the march to Thark.

“He said but little, but the great muscles of his face worked in passion and in agony at recollection of the horrors which had been heaped upon the only thing he had ever loved in all his cold, cruel, terrible existence.

“He no longer demurred when I suggested that we go before Tal Hajus, only saying that he would like to speak to Sarkoja first. At his request I accompanied him to her quarters, and the look of venomous hatred she cast upon me was almost adequate recompense for any future misfortunes this accidental return to Thark might bring me.

“‘Sarkoja,’ said Tars Tarkas, ‘forty years ago you were instrumental in bringing about the torture and death of a woman named Gozava. I have just discovered that the warrior who loved that woman has learned of your part in the transaction. He may not kill you, Sarkoja, it is not our custom, but there nothing to prevent him tying one end of a strap about your neck and the other end to a wild thoat, merely to test your fitness to survive and help perpetuate our race. Having heard that he would do this on the morrow, I thought it only right to warn you, for I am a just man. The river Iss is but a short pilgrimage, Sarkoja. Come, John Carter.’

“The next morning Sarkoja was gone, nor was she ever seen after.” (PM/24.)

I always felt short-changed by this scene. After all the villainy that the Green Martian witch had put both Sola and Dejah Thoris through, I imagined a really horrible end for her. As it was, ERB used the scene as a demonstration of the kindness that Tars Tarkas had learned as the result of the idea of friendship. 

But wait! I forgot what is in actual store for Sarkoja at the end of her pilgrimage. What better end could be imagined for her that having her skull smashed in by the tail of a Plant Man, having her blood drained by the same, and then being eaten by the Great White Apes? And, after all, ERB doesn’t want to divert our attention away from the Charles Bronson Death Wish scenario forming as Carter and Tars Tarkas decide to keep their appointment with Tal Hajus:

“In silence we hastened to the jeddak’s palace, where we were immediately admitted to his presence; in fact, he could scarcely wait to see me and was standing erect upon his platform glowering at the entrance as I came in.

“‘Strap him to that pillar,’ he shrieked. ‘We shall see who it is dares strike the mighty Tal Hajus. Heat the irons; with my own hands, I shall burn the eyes from his head that he may not pollute my person with his vile gaze.’

“‘Chieftans of Thark,’ I cried, turning to the assembled council and ignoring Tal Hajus, ‘I have been a chief among you, and today I have fought for Thark shoulder to shoulder with her greatest warrior. You owe me, at least, a hearing. I have won that much today. You claim to be just people –’

“‘Silence,’ roared Tal Hajus. ‘Gag the creature and bind him as I command.’

“‘Justice,’ Tal Hajus,’ exclaimed Lorquas Ptomel. ‘Who are you to set aside the customs of ages among the Tharks.’

“‘Yes, justice!’ echoed a dozen voices, and so, while Tal Hajus fumed and frothed, I continued.

“‘You are a brave people and you love bravery, but where was your mighty jeddak during the fighting today? I did not see him in the thick of battle; he was not there. He rends defenseless women and little children in his lair, but how recently has one of you seen him fight with men? Why, even I, a midget beside him, felled him with a single blow of my fist. Is it of such that the Tharks fashion their jeddaks? There stands beside me now a great Thark, a mighty warrior and a noble man. Chieftans, how sounds, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark?’

“A roar of deep-toned applause greeted this suggestion.

“‘It but remains for this council to command, and Tal Hajus must prove his fitness to rule. Were he a brave man he would invite Tars Tarkas to combat, for he does not love him, but Tal Hajus is afraid; Tal Hajus, your jeddak, is a coward. With my bare hands I could kill him, and he knows it.’ 

“After I ceased there was tense silence, and all eyes were riveted upon Tal Hajus. He did not speak or move, but the blotchy green of his countenance turned livid, and the froth froze upon his lips.

“‘Tal Hajus,’ said Lorquas Ptomel in a cold, hard voice, ‘never in my long life have I seen a jeddak of the Tharks so humiliated. There could be but one answer to this arraingment. We wait it.’ And still Tal Hajus stood as though petrified.

“‘Chieftans,’ continued Lorquas Ptomel, ‘shall the jeddak, Tal Hajus, prove his fitness to rule over Tars Tarkas?’

“There were twenty chieftans about the rostrum, and twenty swords flashed high in assent.

“There was no alternative. That decree was final, and so Tal Hajus drew his longsword and advanced to meet Tars Tarkas.

“The combat was soon over, and, with his foot upon the neck of the dead monster, Tars Tarkas became jeddak among the Tharks.” (PM/24.)

Remembering the state of degeneracy that Tal Hajus had been in when he tried to rape Dejah Thoris, it is no wonder that his duel with Tars Tarkas was not a battle worthy of Homeric description. But with the Green Martian enthusiasm at an all-time high, John Carter makes his messianic move that brings the Green Men into alliance with the Red Men of Helium by making them the enemy of the Red Men of Zodanga, thus changing the natural evolution and balance of power in Barsoomian history and politics by introducing a wild card.
“His first act was to make me a full-fledged chieftan with the rank I had won by my combats the first few weeks of my captivity among them.

“Seeing the favorable disposition of the warriors toward Tars Tarkas, as well as toward me, I grasped the opportunity to enlist them in my cause against Zodanga. I told Tars Tarkas the story of my adventures, and in a few words had explained to him the thought I had in mind.” (PM/24.)

Carter’s cause against Zodanga is motivated by a complex series of events and customs and emotions, not always rational. In the natural order of things, the two greatest empires on Barsoom are Zodanga and Helium, with Zodanga poised to be ascendant. Zodanga has seized upon the opportunity of Helium being relatively defenseless as her ships are scattered over the face of the planet searching for their beloved Princess, Dejah Thoris. Zodanga thus launched an invasion force against the twin cities that is on the verge of toppling the seat of the Helium Empire.

This act of war, however, is unpopular among many Zodangas, most of whom live in the rural outlying areas of the cultivated waterways. Thus, the Zodangans are a divided people.

Plus, their capital city is also, like Helium, not fully protected since most of her navy and army have been dispatched to seize Helium.

Even though all of the Red Martian Zodangans he has met so far have extended kindness to him – he even saved a high ranking officer in Jeddak Than Kosis’ court – he ends up throwing his allegiance toward Helium because of his love for Dejah Thoris and his jail-house friendship with Kantos Kan. These feelings lead to the death of four brave unfortunate guards, ending with Carter fleeing from Zodanga with the death penalty weighing heavily over his head. He needs to defeat Zodanga before they defeat Helium, or compromise her in a marriage between Princess Dejah Thoris and Prince Sab Than of Zodanga.

Carter needs a powerful ally, and he finds that ally in Tars Tarkas. With an army of Green Men at his command, there is nothing to stop him. Because of his developing higher consciousness, Tars Tarkas is swift to realize how such an alliance can advance his horde above all the others:

“‘John Carter has made a proposal,’ he said, addressing the council, ‘which meets with my sanction. I shall put it to you briefly. Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium, who was our prisoner, is now held by the jeddak of Zodanga, whose son she must wed to save her country from devastation at the hands of the Zodangan forces.

“‘John Carter suggests that we rescue her and return her to Helium. The loot of Zodanga would be magnificent, and I have often thought that had we an alliance with the people of Helium we could obtain sufficient assurance of sustenance to permit us to increase the size and frequency of our hatchings, and thus become unquestionably supreme among the green men of all Barsoom. What say you?’

“It was a chance to fight, an opportunity to loot, and they rose to the bait as a speckled trout to a fly.

“For Tharks they were wildly enthusiastic, and before another half hour had passed twenty mounted messengers were speeding across dead sea bottoms to call the hordes together for the expedition.

“In three days we were on the march toward Zodanga, one hundred thousand strong, as Tars Tarkas had been able to enlist the services of three smaller hordes on the promise of the great loot of Zodanga.” (PM/24.)

This reminds me of the scene in Lawrence of Arabia, where Lawrence enlists the aid of Anthony Quinn’s tribe on the promise of the great loot in Aqaba. As it is, the lust for loot works wonderfully:
“At the head of the column I rode beside the great Thark while at the heels of my mount trotted my beloved Woola.

“We traveled entirely by night, timing our marches so that we camped during the day at deserted cities where, even to the beasts, we were all kept indoors during the daylight hours. On the march Tars Tarkas, through his remarkable ability and statesmanship, enlisted fifty thousand more warriors from various hordes, so that, ten days after we set out we halted at midnight outside the great walled city of Zodanga, one hundred and fifty thousand strong.

“The fighting strength and efficiency of this horde of ferocious green monsters was equivalent to ten times their number of red men. Never in the history of Barsoom, Tars Tarkas told me, had such a force of green warriors marched to battle together. It was a monstrous task to keep even a semblance of harmony among them, and it was a marvel to me that he got them to the city without a mighty battle among themselves.” (PM/24.)

I can imagine vividly an aerial view of this scene: the great horde, one hundred and fifty thousand strong, approaching the great wall of Zodanga, in full barbaric anticipation of the great bloodshed and looting to come. With the advent of John Carter, Barsoomian history is reaching its zenith.
“But as we neared Zodanga their personal quarrels were submerged by her greater hatred for the red men, and especially for the Zodangans, who had for years waged a ruthless campaign of extermination against the green men, directing special attention toward despoiling their incubators.” (PM/24/)
Here we detect another fatal flaw in Zodangan foreign policy: genocide of the Green Men. Yes, Sieg Heil! We may view Carter as another Clint Eastwood “Man With No Name,” who takes sides arbitrarily to his own advantage, knowing that each side is just as bad as the other and neither to be trusted – but in Carter’s choice of Helium over Zodanga, it appears he made the right moral and socio-political choice.

As far as my reading of the text goes, I don’t know of any policy of genocide toward the Green Men practiced in the Empire of Helium. Their policy seems to be that of moderate toleration. From the speech Dejah Thoris gave to the Thark council, it appears that Helium would have welcomed some kind of alliance. As it is, in John Carter, Helium has their alliance, even though they don’t know it yet.

“Now that we were before Zodanga the task of obtaining entry to the city devolved upon me, and directing Tars Tarkas to hold his forces in two divisions out of earshot of the city, with each division opposite a large gateway, I took twenty dismounted warriors and approached one of the small gates that pierced the walls at short intervals. These gates have no regular guard, but are covered by sentries, who patrol the avenue that encircles the city just within the walls much as our metropolitan police patrol their beats.

“The walls of Zodanga are seventy-five feet in height and fifty feet thick. They are built of enormous blocks of carborundum, and the task of entering the city seemed, to my escort of green warriors, an impossibility. The fellows who had been detailed to accompany me were of one of the smaller hordes, and therefore did not know me.

“Placing three of them with their faces to the wall and arms locked, I commanded two more to mount their shoulders, and a sixth I ordered to climb upon the shoulders of the upper two. The head of the topmost warrior towered over forty feet from the ground.

“In this way, with ten warriors, I built a series of three steps from the ground to the shoulders of the topmost man. Then starting from a short distance behind them I ran swiftly up from one tier to the next, and with a final bound from the broad shoulders of the highest I clutched the top of the great wall and quietly drew myself to its broad expanse. After me I dragged six lengths of leather from an equal amount of my warriors. These lengths we had previously fastened together, and passing one end to the topmost warrior I lowered the other end cautiously over the opposite side of the wall toward the avenue below. No one was in sight, so lowering myself to the end of the leather strap, I dropped the remaining thirty feet to the pavement below.

“I had learned from Kantos Kan the secret of opening these gates, and in another moment my twenty great fighting men stood within the doomed city of Zodanga.

“I found to my delight that I had entered at the lower boundary of the enormous palace grounds. The building itself showed in the distance a blaze of glorious light, and on the instant I determined to lead a detachment of warriors directly within the palace itself, while the balance of the great horde was attacking the barracks of the soldiery.

“Dispatching one of the men to Tars Tarkas for a detail of fifty Tharks, with word of my intentions, I ordered ten warriors to capture and open one of the great gates while with the nine remaining I took the other. We were to do our work quietly, no shots were to be fired and no general advance made until I had reached the palace with my fifty Tharks. Our plans worked to perfection. The two sentries we met were dispatched to their fathers upon the banks of the lost sea of Korus, and the guards at both gates followed them in silence.” (PM/24.)

Already you can see the idea of the Martian paradise beginning to form in the mind of ERB as he concludes this first episode of the Barsoomian Mythos. As it was, Newell Metcalf, his editor at All-Story Magazine, suggested he do a story on ritualized religion on Mars and the rest is history, concluding with the apocalypic Battle of Kadabra. But first, the first apocalypse:
“As the great gate where I stood swung open my fifty Tharks, headed by Tars Tarkas himself, rode in upon their mighty thoats. I led them to the palace walls, which I negotiated easily without assistance. Once inside, however, the gate gave me considerable trouble, but I finally was rewarded by seeing it swing upon its huge hinges, and soon my fierce escort was riding acrosss the gardens of jeddak of Zodanga.” (PM/25)
As Carter approaches he can see inside the palace throne room, he sees his beloved princess about to be married. Immediately, he goes into action.
“It was an impressive and beautiful ceremony, I presume, but to me it seemed to most fiendish sight I had ever witnessed, and as the ornaments were adjusted upon her beautiful figure and her collar of gold swung open in the hands of Than Kosis I raised my long-sword above my head, and, with the heavy hilt, I shattered the glass of the great window and sprang into the midst of the astonished assemblage. With a bound I was upon the steps of the platform beside Than Kosis, and as he stood riveted with surprise I brought my long-sword down upon the golden chain that would have bound Dejah Thoris to another.” (PM/25.)
Carter has an epic swordfight with Than Kosis, his son, Sab Than, and a few of the officers and the guards. He kills Than Kosis, but he cannot kill Sab Than because the killer of a woman’s betrothed cannot become her husband. He must wait for Tars Tarkas to do the deed.
“The Tharks were having their hands full in the center of the room, and I began to realize that nothing short of a miracle could save Dejah Thoris and myself, when I saw Tars Tarkas surging through the crowd of pigmies that swarmed about him. With one swing of his mighty long-sword he laid a dozen corpses at his feet, and so he hewed a pathway before him until in another moment he stood upon the platform beside me, dealing death and destruction right and left. 

“The bravery of the Zodangans was awe-inspiring, not one attempted to escape, and when the fighting ceased it was because only Tharks remained alive in the great hall, other than Dejah Thoris and myself.

“Sab Than lay dead beside his father, and the corpses of the flower of Zodangan nobility and chivalry covered the floor of the bloody shambles.” (PM/25.)

His first thought is to rescue Kantos Kan, which he proceeds to accomplish without delay. Tars Tarkas hastens to take care of business and the sounds of heavy firing throughout the city indicate wide-spread chaos. Carter returns to the side of his princess and they kiss.
“Sometime later Tars Tarkas and Kantos Kan returned to report that Zodanga had been completely reduced. Her forces were entirely destroyed or captured, and no further resistance was to be expected from within. Several battleships had escaped, but there were thousands of war and merchant vessels under guard of Thark warriors.

“The lesser hordes had commenced looting and quarrelling among themselves, so it was decided that we collect what warriors we could , man as many vessels as possible with Zodangan prisoners and make for Helium without further loss of time.

“Five hours later we sailed from the roofs of the dock buildings with a fleet of two hundred and fifty battleships, carrying nearly one hundred thousand green warriors, followed by a fleet of transports with our thoats.

“Behind us we left the stricken city in the fierce and brutal clutches of some forty thousand green warriors of the lesser hordes. They were looting, murdering, and fighting amongst themselves. In a hundred places they had applied the torch, and columns of dense smoke were rising above the city as though to blot out from the eye of heaven the horrid sights beneath.” (PM/26.)

As a result of the Looting of Zodanga by the Green Hordes, John Carter’s name would forever be a curse upon the lips of Zodangans for generations, as witnessed by the attitude of the Zodangan slave girl, Zanda, in Swords of Mars.
“In the middle of the afternoon we sighted the scarlet and yellow towers of Helium, and a short time later a great fleet of Zodangan battleships rose from the camps of the besiegers without the city, and advanced to meet us.

“The banners of Helium had been strung from stern to stern on each of our mighty craft, but the Zodangans did not need this sign to realize that we were enemies, for our green Martian warriors had opened fire upon them almost as they left the ground. With their uncanny marksmanship they raked the on-coming fleet with volley after volley.

“The twin cities of Helium, perceiving that we were friends, sent out hundreds of vessels to aid us, and then began the first real air battle I had ever witnessed.

“The vessels carrying our green warriors were kept circling above the contending fleets of Helium and Zodanga, since their batteries were useless in the hands of the Tharks who, having no navy, have no skill in naval gunnery. Their small arm fire, however, was most effective, and the final outcome of the engagement was strongly influenced, if not wholly determined, by their presence.

“At first the two forces circled at the same altitude, pouring broadside after broadside into each other. Presently a great hole was torn in the hull of one of the immense battle craft from the Zodangan camp; with a lurch she turned completely over, the little figures of her crew plunging, turning and twisting toward the ground a thousand feet below; then with sickening velocity she tore after them, almost completely burying herself in the soft loam of the ancient sea bottom.

“A wild cry of exultation arose from the Heliumite squadron, and with redoubled ferocity they fell upon the Zodangan fleet. By a pretty maneuver two of the vessels of Helium gained a position above their adversaries, from which they poured upon them from their keel bomb batteries a perfect torrent of exploding bombs.” (PM/26.)

Did I mention that this story was written in 1911, three years before airplanes were regarded as serious weapons of war, and crucial years before the science of the dogfight was worked out by hard experience in the French skies? ERB was imagining real aerial combat in such vivid detail and near accuracy of later experience that a learned reader almost feels as if a science fiction Nostradamas of the Verne or Wells quality was hatching from its American egg. Yes, good old Normal Bean, who saw it all before it happened.
“Then, one by one, the battleships of Helium succeeded in rising above the Zodangans, and in a short time a number of the beleaguering battleships were drifting hopeless wrecks toward the high scarlet tower of greater Helium. Several others attempted to escape, but they were soon surrounded by thousands of tiny individual fliers, and above each hung a monster battleship of Helium ready to drop boarding parties upon their decks.

“Within but little more than an hour from the moment the victorious Zodangan squadron had risen to meet us from the camp of the besiegers the battle was over, and the remaining vessels of the conquered Zodangans were headed toward the cities of Helium under prize crews.” (PM/26.)

I am currently reading the Patrick O’Brian Captain Aubrey seafaring adventure novels of the Napoleanic Age, and after reading the late Mr. O’Brian’s meticulously recreated scenes of naval battle, these Barsoomian scenes of aerial naval combat ring true as authentic sailing accounts of warfare. Moreover, after reading the real life adventure of The Speedwell Voyage, by Kenneth Poolman (Naval Institute Press: Annapolis, MD; 1990), I know that there is nothing an author can imagine that was not actually accomplished by someone during this exciting period. ERB increases the pleasure by imagining the combat it in three dimensions.
“There was an extremely pathetic side to the surrender of these mighty fliers, the result of an age-old custom which demanded that surrender should be signalized by the voluntary plunging to earth of the commander of the vanquished vessel. One after another the brave fellows, holding their colors high above their heads, leaped from the towering bows of their mighty craft to an awful death.

“Not until the commander of the entire fleet took the fearful plunge, thus indicating the surrender of the remaining vessels, did the fighting cease, and the useless sacrifice of the brave men come to an end.” (PM/26.)

Yes, some customs come to a hard end. Like the idea infecting America that before she can withdraw from a bad idea, she has to do so under some kind of delusion of victory or honor.

Where is the honor in being wrong, except in the understanding that it is wrong?

Now comes a scene little understood for its global impact in the Barsoomian Mythos.The Heliumites discover that their saviors are a white man from Jasoom and a Green Martian Horde. How will they cope with this new truth, this new major paradigm shift in the balance of

“We now signaled the flagship of Helium’s navy to approach, and when she was within hailing distance I called out that we had the Princess Dejah Thoris on board, and that we wished to transfer her to the flagship that she might be taken immediately to the city.

“As the full import of my announcement bore in upon them a great cry arose from the decks of the flagship, and a moment later the colors of the Princess of Helium broke from a hundred points upon her upper works. When the other vessels of the squadron caught the meaning of the signals flashed them they took up the wild acclaim and unfurled their colors in the gleaming sunlight.

“The flagship bore down upon us, and as she swung gracefully to and touched our side a dozen officers sprang upon our decks. As their astonished gaze fell upon the hundreds of green warriors, who now came forth from the fighting shelters, they stopped aghast, but at sight of Kantos Kan, who advanced to meet them, they came forward, crowding about him.

“Dejah Thoris and I then advanced, and they had no eyes for other than her. She received them gracefully, calling each by name, for they were men high in the esteem and service of her grandfather, and she knew them well.

“‘Lay your hands upon the shoulder of John Carter,’ she said to them, turning toward me, ‘the man to whom Helium owes her princess as well as her victory today.’

“They were very courteous to me and said many kind and complimentary things, but what seemed to impress them most was that I had won the aid of the fierce Tharks in my campaign for the liberation of Dejah Thoris, and the relief of Helium.

“‘You owe your thanks more to another man than to me,’ I said, ‘and here he is; meet one of Barsoom’s greatest soldiers and statesmen, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark.’

“With the same polished courtesy that had marked their manner toward me they extended their greetings to the great Thark, nor, to my surprise, was he much behind them in ease of bearing or courtly speech. Though not a garrulous race, the Tharks are extremely formal, and their ways lend themselves amazingly to dignified and courtly manners.

“Dejah Thoris went aboard the flagship, and was much put out that I would not follow, but, as I explained to her, the battle was but partly won; we still had the land forces of the besieging Zodangans to account for, and I would not leave Tars Tarkas until that had been accomplished.” (PM/26.)

It appears that the mere presence of the Princess and Kantos Kan was all it took to give Carter and Tars Tarkas the credibility they needed at the time. The reader will recall that it was the horde under Lorquas Ptomel and Tars Tarkas that had decimated Helium’s scientific fleet, of whom Kantos Kan had been one of the few survivors. It is easy to imagine that Kantos Kan never had to buy a drink again at popular watering holes, for he must have been full of the kinds of stories most military men enjoy telling and hearing, especially the last-man-standing battle in the Warhoon arena.

This book will prove to be the prototype of most of ERB’s literary future output, the hurried ending that finally – like a Charles Dickens novel – brings all of the loose ends together.

Oh, but what a hurried ending! Some of the greatest succinct field commander descriptions of warfare in fiction. And, on another planet.

“The commander of the naval forces of Helium promised to arrange to have the armies of Helium attack from the city in conjunction with our land attack, and so the vessels separated and Dejah Thoris was borne in triumph back to the court of her grandfather, Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.

“In the distance lay our fleet of transports, with the thoats of the green warriors, where they had remained during the battle. Without landing stages it was to be a difficult matter to unload these beasts upon the open plain, but there was nothing else for it, and so we put out for a point about ten miles from the city and began the task.

“It was necessary to lower the animals to the ground in slings and this work occupied the remainder of the day and half the night. Twice we were attacked by parties of Zodangan cavalry, but with little loss, however, and after darkness shut down, they withdrew.

“As soon as the last thoat was unloaded Tars Tarkas gave the command to advance, and in three parties we crept upon the Zodangan camp from the north, the south and the east.

“About a mile from the main camp we encountered their outposts and, as had been prearranged, accepted this as the signal to charge. With wild, ferocious cries and amidst the nasty squealing of battle-enraged thoats we bore down upon the Zodangans.

“We did not catch them napping, but found a well-entrenched battle line confronting us. Time after time we were repulsed until, toward noon, I began to fear for the result of the battle.

“The Zodangans numbered nearly a million fighting men, gathered from pole to pole, wherever stretched their ribbon-like waterways, while pitted against them were less than a hundred thousand green warriors. The forces from Helium had not arrived, nor could we receive any word from them.

“Just at noon we heard heavy firing all along the line between the Zodangans and the cities, and we knew then that our much-needed reinforcements had come.

“Again Tars Tarkas ordered the charge, and once more the mighty thoats bore their terrible riders against the ramparts of the enemy. At the same moment the battle line of Helium surged over the opposite breastworks of the Zodangans and in another moment they were being crushed as between two millstones. Nobly they fought, but in vain. “The plain before the city became a veritable shambles ere the last Zodangans surrendered, but finally the carnage ceased, the prisoners were marched back to Helium, and we entered the greater city’s gates, a huge triumphal procession of conquering heroes.” (PM/26.)

ERB likely believed he was doing his father proud – the Old Union Civil War Major, the hero from First Bull Run to Appomatox Court House – when he penned this battle scene, but history has gone down with the brutal assessment that ERB’s father hated John Carter, the Virginian from the South, and hated more his son’s fake biography where he purported to have been a southern slave owner before the Civil War. In his favor, however, his father loved Tarzan.
“The broad avenues were lined with women and children, among which were the few men whose duties necessitated that they remain within the city during the battle. We were greeted with an endless round of applause and showered with ornaments of gold, platinum, silver, and precious jewels. The city had gone mad with joy.

“My fierce Tharks caused the wildest excitement and enthusiasm. Never before had an armed body of green warriors entered the gates of Helium, and that they came now as friends and allies filled the red men with rejoicing.

“That my poor services to Dejah Thoris had become known to the Heliumites was evidenced by the loud crying of my name, and by the loads of ornaments that were fastened upon me and my huge thoat as we passed up the avenues to the palace, for even in the face of the ferocious appearance of Woola the populace pressed close about me.” (PM/26.)

ERB downplays this scene, but to fully grasp its reality, it must be remembered that in the thousands of years of post-oceanic Mars, the Green and Red men had never seen eye-to-eye before. This must have had the same effect in the minds of the populace as the Berlin Wall falling in 1989 had in the minds of the German volk. The people may not have been fully aware, but a great Paradigm Shift has just occurred on their planet in the advent of John Carter. This literary motif is at the heart of the Barsoomian Mythos.
“As we approached the magnificent pile we were met by a party of officers who greeted us warmly and requested that Tars Tarkas and his jeds with the jeddaks and jeds of his wild allies, together with myself, dismount and accompany them to receive from Tardos Mors an expression of his gratitude for our services. 

“At the top of the great steps leading up to the main portals of the palace stood the royal party, and as we reached the lower steps one of their number descended to meet us. He was an almost perfect specimen of manhood; tall, straight as an arrow, superbly muscled and with the carriage and bearing of a ruler of men. I did not need to be told that he was Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.

“The first member of our party he met was Tars Tarkas and his first words sealed forever the new friendship between the races.

“‘That Tardos Mors,’ he said, earnestly, ‘may meet the greatest living warrior of Barsoom is a priceless honor, but that he may lay his hand on the shoulder of a friend and ally is a far greater boon.’

“‘Jeddak of Helium,’ returned Tars Tarkas, ‘it has remained for a man of another world to teach the green warriors of Barsoom the meaning of friendship; to him we owe the fact that the hordes of Thark can understand you; that they can appreciate and reciprocate the sentiments so graciously expressed.’

“Tardos Mors then greeted each of the green jeddaks and jeds, and to each spoke words of friendship and appreciation.” (PM/26.)

“For ten days the hordes of Thark and their wild allies were feasted and entertained, and, then, loaded with costly presents and escorted by ten thousand soldiers of Helium commanded by Mors Kojak, they started on the return journey to their own lands. The jed of lesser Helium with a small party of nobles accompanied them all the way to Thark to cement more closely the new bonds of peace and friendship.

“Sola also accompanied Tars Tarkas, her father, who before all his chieftans had acknowledged her as his daughter.

“Three weeks later, Mors Kojak and his officers, accompanied by Tars Tarkas and Sola, returned upon a battleship that had been dispatched to Thark to fetch them in time for the ceremony which made Dejah Thoris and John Carter one.” (PM/27.)

I thought this article was going to conclude our series on Tars Tarkas, but, alas, I was wrong. No other character deserves this amount of space, but Tars Tarkas is more than worthy, and his legacy in the Barsoomian Mythos must taken fully into account. The conclusion, I promise, of the Green Hordes, in the next installment.
~ continued

I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII
Murphy Anderson ~ DC comics
Green Man Horde by Murphy Anderson
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

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