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Volume 3675
The Fifteenth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom 
Part I
by Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.

Art by Thomas Yeates


In the natural evolution of Barsoom, Zodanga was on the brink of becoming the most powerful nation on the planet. Then came John Carter and everything changed. Zodanga’s once proud glory soon faded and it became nothing more than a large city under Helium’s domination. 

The causes of the fall of Zodanga are many, but the chief cause appears to be their policy of genocide in regards to the Green Martian hordes. In the end, it was the Green hordes that brought the proud nation to its knees. Karma is a bitch even on Mars.
We will now examine the data both before and after the fall of Zodanga. It is my belief that Zodanga has a basis in reality, namely the city of Chicago. Like its Earthly counterpart, Zodanga is a magnet for gangsters and political corruption. Although there a lot of good and respectable people in Zodanga, they seem to be primarily country folk. Within an eye blink, Zodanga goes from befriending John Carter to being his most bitter enemy. Let us now see why.


John Carter has just escaped from the arena of the dreaded Warhoons, a Green Martian horde. He treks for days and finally comes across the tell-tale sign of human life: tall trees marking a waterway. But first he is confronted by an enormous building covering four square miles and two hundred feet high. He has stumbled upon the atmosphere factory, and it appears to be in the territory of the Zodangan empire. While discussing his story with the caretaker of the factory, he learns that Zodanga is the closest city:

“Before I retired for the night he promised to give me a letter to a nearby agricultural officer who would help me on my way to Zodanga, which he said, was the nearest Martian city.

“‘But be sure that you do not let them know you are bound for Helium as they are at war with that country. My assistant and I are of no country, we belong to all Barsoom and this talisman which we wear protects us in all lands, even among the green men – though we do not trust ourselves to their hands if we can avoid it,’ he added.” (PM/20.)

Carter telepathically picks up a signal from the old man that he plans to kill Carter once he has fallen asleep in case the old man accidentally gave the code to unlocking the doors to the factory in his thoughts, but Carter, having read the old man’s mind, recalls the nine tones of the mental code and telepathically unlocks the doors in the middle of the night and escapes with Woola.

He stumbles upon some low rambling buildings in the waterway, but know one answers after he repeatedly pounds on the doors. He falls asleep and is awakened the next morning by the three Ptor brothers, who take him into their homes showing a good side of Zodangan hospitality and friendship. They feed him and give him a red pigment to disguise his skin since he is an anomaly on the planet. They give him money and a letter of introduction to a high official in Zodanga so that he might find employment either in the army or navy.

He travels down the waterway to the city and discovers that Dejah Thoris is believed to be dead. He learns this information from a local noble person who had been in Helium on a diplomatic mission several years earlier.

“At a second stop I met some highly cultivated people of the noble class and while in conversation we chanced to speak of Helium. One of the older men had been there on a diplomatic mission several years before and spoke with regret of the conditions which seemed destined ever to keep these two countries at war.

“‘Helium,’ he said, ‘rightly boasts the most beautiful women of Barsoom, and of all her treasures the wondrous daughter of Mors Kajak, Dejah Thoris, is the most exquisite flower.

“‘Why,’ he added, ‘the people really worship the ground she walks upon and since her loss on that ill-starred expedition all Helium has been draped in mourning.

“‘That our ruler should have attacked the disabled fleet as it was returning to Helium was but another of his awful blunders which I fear will sooner or later compel Zodanga to elevate a wiser man to his place.

“‘Even now, though our victorious armies are surrounding Helium, the people of Zodanga are voicing their displeasure, for the war is not a popular one, since it is not based on right or justice. Our forces took advantage of the absence of the principal fleet of Helium on their search for the princess, and so we have been able easily to reduce the city to a sorry plight. It is said she will fall within the next few passages of the further moon.’

“‘And what, think you, may have been the fate of the princess, Dejah Thoris?’ I asked as casually as possible.

“‘She is dead,’ he answered. ‘This much was learned from a green warrior recently captured by our forces in the south. She escaped from the hordes of Thark with a strange creature of another world, only to fall into the hands of the Warhoons. Their thoats were found wandering upon the sea bottom and evidence of a bloody conflict were discovered nearby.’

“While this information was in no way reassuring, neither was it at all conclusive proof of the death of Dejah Thoris, and so I determined to make every effort possible to reach Helium as quickly as I could and carry to Tardos Mors such news of his granddaughter’s possible whereabouts as lay in my power.” (PM/21.)

The reader will remember that only John Carter fell into the hands of the Warhoons after he stood them off so that Sola and Dejah Thoris could escape on their thoats. We are not told from what horde the captured Green warrior belonged, but he was likely a Thark in pursuit of Carter and Dejah Thoris. Why he believed that she was dead is likely because of the reputation of the Warhoons. What transpired with Sola and Dejah Thoris after they left John Carter presents a mystery in the Mythos that must be solved by guess work. But we will wait until we have all of the information before we make our guess.

Carter arrives at the gates of Zodanga after he orders Woola to return home to Thark. It is not normal on Barsoom for red men to have calots as pets. The Martian dog, about the size of a Shetland pony, would only scare everyone in the city, as would a Earth man followed by a lion in any large city.

“He seemed to understand me fully, and when I pointed back in the direction of Thark he turned sorrowfully away, nor could I bear to watch him go; but resolutely set my face toward Zodanga and with a touch of heartsickness approached her frowning walls.

“The letter I bore from them gained me immediately entrance to the vast, walled city. It was still very early in the morning and the streets were practically deserted. The residences, raised high upon their metal columns, resembled huge rookeries, while the uprights themselves presented the appearance of steel tree trunks. The shops as a rule were not raised from the ground nor were their doors bolted or barred, since thievery is practically unknown upon Barsoom. Assassination is the ever-present fear of all Barsoomians, and for this reason alone their homes are raised high above the ground at night, or in times of danger.

“The Ptor brothers had given me explicit directions for reaching the point of the city where I could find living accomodations and be near the offices of the government agents to whom they had given me letters. My way led to the central square, or plaza, which is a characteristic of all Martian cities.

“The plaza of Zodanga covers a square mile and is bounded by the palaces of the jeddak, the jeds, and other members of the royalty and nobility of Zodanga, as well as by the principal public buildings, cafes, and shops.

“As I was crossing the great square lost in wonder and admiration of the magnificent architecture and the gorgeous scarlet vegetation which carpeted the broad lawns I discovered a red Martian walking briskly toward me from one of the avenues. He paid not the slightest attention to me, but as he came abreast I recognized him, and turning I placed my hands upon his shoulder, calling out:

“‘Kaor, Kantos Kan!’

“Like lightning he wheeled and before I could so much as lower my hand the point of his long-sword was at my breast.

“‘Who are you?’ he growled, and then as a backward leap carried me fifty feet from his sword he dropped the point to the ground and exclaimed, laughing, “‘I do not need a better reply, there is but one man upon all Barsoom who can bounce about like a rubber ball. By the mother of the further moon, John Carter, how came you here, and have you become a Darseen that you can change your color at will?’

“‘You gave me a bad half minute my friend,’ he continued, after I had briefly outlined my adventures since parting with him in the arena at Warhoon. 

‘Were my name and city known to the Zodangans I would shortly be sitting on the banks of the lost sea of Korus with my revered and departed ancestors. I am here in the interest of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, to discover the whereabouts of Dejah Thoris, our princess. Sab Than, prince of Zodanga, has her hidden in the city and has fallen madly in love with her. His father, Than Kosis, Jeddak of Zodanga, had made her voluntary marriage to his son the price of peace between our countries, but Tardos Mors will not accede to the demands and has sent word that he and his people would rather look upon the dead face of their princess than see her wed to any than her own choice, and that personally he would prefer being engulfed in the ashes of a lost and burning Helium to joining the metal of his house with that of Than Kosis. His reply was the deadliest affront he could have put upon Than Kosis and the Zodangans, but his people love him the more for it and his strength in Helium is greater today than ever.

“‘I have been here three days,’ continued Kantos Kan, ‘but I have not yet found where Dejah Thoris is imprisoned. Today I join the Zodangan navy as an air scout and I hope in this way to win the confidence of Sab Than, the prince, who is commander of his division of the navy, and thus learn the whereabouts of Dejah Thoris. I am glad that you are here, John Carter, for I know your loyalty to my princess and two of us working together should be able to accomplish much.’” (PM/21.)

So, thus far we have the word of a recently captured Green warrior that the princess is dead. We have two thoats with no riders and the sign of a bloody struggle. Finally, we learn that Dejah Thoris is in the hands of Sab Than. Unfortunately, those are all the clues we are given. 

Note, there is no word about Sola. In fact, she disappears from the story until the very end. We must assume that she is wherever Dejah Thoris is, since they were together when Carter was captured by the Warhoons. We can guess that Sola and Dejah Thoris were later captured by Green Martians of either horde but were rescued by the Zodangan air scout division of the navy who gave the Green Martians a bloody fight to win the princess. In the end, your guess is as good as mine.

“The plaza was now commencing to fill with people going and coming upon the daily activities of their duties. The shops were opening and the cafes filling with early morning patrons. Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus. No hand touched the food from the time it entered the building in its raw state until it emerged hot and delicious upon the tables before the guests, in response to the touching of tiny buttons to indicate their desire.

“After our meal, Kantos Kan took me with him to the headquarters of the air-scout squadron and introducing me to his superior asked that I be enrolled as a member of the corps. In accordance with custom an examination was necessary, but Kantos Kan had told me to have no fear on this score as he would attend to that part of the matter. He accomplished this by taking my order for examination to the examining officer and representing himself as John Carter.

“‘This ruse will be discovered later,’ he cheerfully explained, ‘when they check up my weights, measurements, and other personal identification data, but it will be several months before this is done and our mission should be accomplished or have failed long before that time.’

“The next few days were spent by Kantos Kan in teaching the intricacies of flying and of repairing the dainty little contrivances which the Martians use for this purpose. The body of the one-man air craft is about sixteen feet long, two feet wide and three inches thick, tapering to a point at each end. The driver sits on top of this plane upon a seat constructed over the small, noiseless radium engine which propels it. The medium of buoyancy is contained within the thin metal of the body and consists of the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion, as it may be termed in view of its properties.

“This ray, like the ninth ray, is unknown on Earth, but the Martians have discovered that it is an inherent property of all light no matter from what source it emanates. They have learned that it is the solar eighth ray which propels the light of the sun to the various planets, and it is the individual eighth ray of each planet which ‘reflects,’ or propels the light thus obtained out into space once more. The solar eighth ray would be absorbed by the surface of Barsoom, but the Barsoomian eighth ray, which tends to propel light from Mars into space, is constantly streaming out from the planet constituting a force of repulsion of gravity which when confined is able to lift enormous weights from the surface of the ground.

“It is this ray which has enabled them to so perfect aviation that battle ships far outweighing anything known upon Earth sail as gracefully and lightly through the thin air of Barsoom as a toy balloon in the heavy atmospher of Earth. 

“During the early years of the discovery of this ray many strange accidents occurred before the Martians learned to measure and control the wonderful power they had found. In one instance, some nine hundred years before, the first great battle ship to be built with eighth ray reservoirs was stored with too great a quantity of the rays and she had sailed up from Helium with five hundred officers and men, never to return.

“Her power of repulsion for the planet was so great that it had carried her far into space, where she can be seen today, by the aid of powerful telescopes, hurtling through the heavens ten thousand miles from Mars; a tiny satellite that will thus encircle Barsoom to the end of time.

“The fourth day after my arrival in Zodanga I made my first flight, and as a result of it I won a promotion which included quarters in the palace of Than Kosis.

“As I rose above the city I circled several times, as I had seen Kantos Kan do, and then throwing my engine into top speed I raced at a terrific velocity toward the south, following one of the great waterways which enter Zodanga from that direction.” (PM/21.)

Carter then spies a lone airman stranded on the ground below being attacked by three Green Martians as he makes his way to one of the walled fields. Upon closer observation, Carter notes the metal of the Red Martian as that of the same scout squadron to which Carter is attached. He descends, and coming up on the Green Martians from behind, rams the front of his craft between the shoulders of one of the Green warriors, lopping his head off. The thoats of the other two Green warriors bolt in fear in opposite directions. 
“Reducing my speed I circled and came to the ground at the feet of the astonished Zodangan. He was warm in his thanks for my timely aid and promised that my day’s work would bring the reward it merited, for it was none other than a cousin of the jeddak of Zodanga whose life I had saved. 

“We wasted no time in talk as we knew that the warriors would surely return as soon as they had gained control of their mounts. Hastening to his damaged machine we were bending every effort to finish the needed repairs and had almost completed them when we saw the two green monsters returning at top speed from opposite sides of us. When they had approached within a hundred yards their thoats again became unmanageable and absolutely refused to advance further toward the air craft which had frightened them.

“The warriors finally dismounted and hobbling their animals advanced toward us on foot with drawn long-swords. I advanced to meet the larger, telling the Zodangan to do the best he could with the other. Finishing my man with almost no effort, as had now from much practice become habitual with me, I hastened to return to my new acquaintance whom I found indeed in desperate straits.

“He was wounded and down with the huge foot of his antagonist upon his throat and the great long-sword raised to deal the final thrust. With a bound I cleared the fifty feet intervening between us, and with outstretched point drove my sword completely through the body of the green warrior. His sword fell, harmless, to the ground and he sank limply upon the prostrate form of the Zodangan.

“A cursory examination of the latter revealed no mortal injuries and after a brief rest he asserted that he felt fit to attempt the return voyage. He would have to pilot his own craft, however, as these frail vessels are not intended to convey but a single person.

“Quickly completing the repairs we rose together into the still, cloudless Martian sky, and at great speed and without further mishap returned to Zodanga.

“As we neared the city we discovered a mighty concourse of civilians and troops assembled upon the plain before the city. The sky was black with naval vessels and private and public pleasure craft, flying long streamers of gay-colored silks, and banners and flags of odd and picturesque design.

“My companion signaled that I slow down, and running his machine close beside mine suggested that we approach and watch the ceremony, which he said, was for the purpose of conferring honors on individual officers and men for bravery and other distinguished service. He then unfurled a little ensign which denoted that his craft bore a member of the royal family of Zodanga, and together we made our way through the maze of low-lying air vessels until we hung directly over the jeddak of Zodanga and his staff. All were mounted upon the small domestic bull thoats of the red Martians, and their trappings and ornamentation bore such a quantity of gorgeously colored feathers that I could not but be struck with the startling resemblance the concourse bore to a band of the red Indians of my own Earth.” (PM/21.)

I interrupt at this time to mention one of the enigmas of Barsoom. Where do all of the feathers come from that the Martians use for their adornment? We know that no birds or insects pester the Martian farmlands, but we also know that there are birds and insects on Barsoom. We are told that voiceless birds inhabit the trees in the Valley Dor, but we are not told of any other birds on the rest of the planet, except for the Malagors in Synthetic Men of Mars. Yet, even the Malagors were thought to be extinct until Ras Thavas brought them back to life in his Jurassic Park experiments. So, either there are other kinds of birds on the planet in plenty that are never mentioned in the Mythos, or the feathers are heirlooms handed down from generation to generation from a time when birds were plentiful on the planet. Or, perhaps it is just another example of an ERB screw- up. He was not, after all, the infallible God of Barsoom. Anyway, back to the story:
“One of the staff called the attention of Than Kosis to the presence of my companion above them and the ruler motioned for him to descend. As they waited for the troops to move into position facing the jeddak the two talked earnestly together, the jeddak and his staff occasionally glancing up at me. I could not hear their conversation and presently it ceased and all dismounted, as the last body of troops had wheeled into position before their emperor. A member of the staff advanced toward the troops, and calling the name of a soldier commanded him to advance.

“The officer then recited the nature of the heroic act which had won the approval of the jeddak, and the latter advanced and placed a metal ornament upon the left arm of the lucky man.” (PM/21.)

I must take this time to point out the dark irony of all this before I forget. All of the prominent men in this scene will likely soon be butchered in the great massacre at the hands of the Green Hordes under the leadership of Tars Tarkas. Did ERB already know the plot of the whole story before he wrote it? Or did he just start writing and go with the flow? I know he made notes as he wrote a story, but did he have fully written outlines of each plot in advance?

It is my belief that ERB had a rough outline in his mind and then let his mojo do the workin’. Perhaps we are to understand Carter’s attitude one of acting undercover among one’s enemies, since Zodanga was at war with Helium. But at this time the only pseudo-allegiance he has is with the Tharks. Unless, when he pledged to serve Dejah Thoris, he took on her nation’s interests at the same time. It seems pointless in a well-outlined plot to have Carter save this man and earn his eternal gratitude just to later cut him down in the great hall of Than Kosis during the wedding ceremony

If this indeed is the truth, then ERB was one cruel, sadistic son of a bitch to have the Zodangans so reach out and befriend him just to have him repay them back with vengeance because the son of their leader fell madly in love with the most irresistible woman on the planet, creating a situation where the whole nation had to fall so that by Martian custom Carter could have his Martian princess.

ERB’s mind is still too deep for me to fully fathom. Now back to the ceremony:

“Ten men had so been decorated when the aid called out, “‘John Carter, air scout!’

“Never in my life had I been so surprised, but the habit of military discipline is strong within me, and I dropped my little machine lightly to the ground and advanced on foot as I had seen the others do. As I halted before the officer, he addressed me in a voice audible to the entire assemblage of troops and spectators.

“‘In recognition, John Carter,’ he said, ‘of your remarkable courage and skill in defending the person of the cousin of the jeddak Than Kosis and, singlehanded, vanquishing three green warriors, it is the pleasure of our jeddak to confer on you the mark of his esteem.’

“Than Kosis then advanced toward me and placing an ornament upon me, said: “‘My cousin has narrated the details of your wonderful achievement, which seems little short of miraculous, and if you can so well defend a cousin of the jeddak how much better could you defend the person of the jeddak himself. You are therefore appointed a padwar of The Guards and will be quartered in my palace hereafter.’

“I thanked him, and at his direction joined the members of his staff. After the ceremony I returned my machine to its quarters on the roof of the barracks of the air-scout squadron, and with an orderly from the palace to guide me I reported to the officer in charge of the palace.” (PM/21.)

It is my opinion that Carter is not yet at enmity with Zodanga when he enters the palace to become part of The Guard. All he wants is Dejah Thoris. That it is the only interest he has at this time. As I see it, his whole future political loyalties are formed in the next scene, when Carter overhears a conversation between Than Kosis, Sab Than, and Dejah Thoris.

If Dejah Thoris appears too happy with Sab Than in this scene, we must remember she has been told that John Carter was killed by the Warhoons. Still, she has apparently spent little time in grieving for him. I also want to point out the suggested sexual intimacy between the prince and princess. Perhaps she is happy because her new lover has spent hours helping her to get through her mental pain. It is likely that this isn’t the first time she has lost a lover. She is, not to forget, over three hundred years older than Carter’s civil war era life.

Pay attention to the subtle undertones in the conversation between Carter and Dejah Thoris when they were captives of the Tharks in Korad. In this scene Carter struggles over whether he should tell the princess that he has fallen madly in love with her, a fate also awaiting Sab Than in the future:

“My first impulse was to tell her of my love, and then I thought of the helplessness of her position wherein I alone could lighten the burdens of her captivity, and protect her in my poor way against the thousands of hereditary enemies she must face upon our arrival at Thark. I could not chance causing her additional pain or sorrow by declaring a love which, in all probability she did not return. Should I be so indiscreet, her position would be even more unbearable than now, and the thought that she might feel that I was taking advantage of her helplessness, to influence her decision was the final argument which sealed my lips.

“‘Why are you so quiet, Dejah Thoris?’ I asked. ‘Possibly you would rather return to Sola and your quarters?’

“‘No,’ she murmured, ‘I am happy here. I do not know why it is that I should always be happy and contented when you, John Carter, a stranger, are with me; yet at such times it seems that I am safe and that, with you, I shall soon return to my father’s court and feel his strong arms about me and my mother’s tears and kisses on my cheek.’

“‘Do people kiss, then, on Barsoom?’ I asked, when she had explained the word she used, in answer to my inquiry as to its meaning. 

“‘Parents, brothers, and sisters, yes; and,’ she added in a low, thoughtful tone, ‘lovers.’

“‘And you, Dejah Thoris, have parents and brothers and sisters?’


“‘And a – lover?’

“She was silent, nor could I venture to repeat the question.

“‘The man of Barsoom,’ she finally ventured, ‘does not ask personal questions of women, except his mother, and the woman he has fought for and won.’” (PM/14.)

One can easily imagine John Carter’s beating heart sinking like the Titanic when the princess wouldn’t directly answer his question. ERB is informing the reader that Dejah Thoris is not a virgin, even though, as far as any reader can know, she has never been married. The Red Martians may be a virtuous people on whole, as ERB keeps reminding us, but there is ample evidence of fornication to put the general rule to test. 

So we can well imagine John Carter’s love for the princess creating an inherent jealousy of Dejah Thoris’s other lovers, all coming to a head when he surmises that she has been up to her royal lecherous ways with Sab Than. I would say this is Carter’s psychological breaking point, where he becomes almost psychopathic in his willingness the depopulate the entire planet to win
the princess. It sounds like the green monster at work.

I tend to go along with R.E. Prindle’s theory that this triangle between Carter, Sab Than, and Dejah Thoris, was based on the triangle between ERB, Frank Martin, the son of a wealthy tycoon, and Emma. (See, ERBzine #1343.) If this is true, and there is little reason to doubt it, then ERB learned what most writers know, that petty grievances, or major ones, over people and events, can best be worked out in fiction, where it is not a crime.

“The major-domo to whom I reported had been given instructions to station me near the person of the jeddak, who, in time of war, is always in great danger of assassination, as the rule that all is fair in war seems to constitute the entire ethics of Martian conflict.

“He therefore escorted me immediately to the apartment in which Than Kosis then was. The ruler was engaged in conversation with his son, Sab Than, and several courtiers of his household, and did not perceive my entrance.

“The walls of the apartment were completely hung with splendid tapestries which hid any windows or doors which may have pierced them. The room was lighted by imprisoned rays of sunshine held between the ceiling proper and what appeared to be a ground-glass false ceiling a few inches below.

“My guide drew aside one of the tapestries, disclosing a passage which encircled the room, between the hangings and the walls of the chamber. Within this passage I was to remain, he said, so long as Than Kosis was in the apartment. When he left I was to follow. My only duty was to guard the ruler and keep out of sight as much as possible. I would be relieved after a period of four hours. The major-domo then left me.

“The tapestries were of a strange weaving which gave the appearance of heavy solidity from one side, but from my hiding place I could perceive all that took place within the room as readily as though there had been no curtain interfering.

“Scarcely had I gained my post than the tapestry at the opposite end of the chamber separated and four soldiers of The Guard entered, surrounding a female figure. As they approached Than Kosis the soldiers fell to either side and there standing before the jeddak and not ten feet from me, her beautiful face radiant with smiles, was Dejah Thoris.

“Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga, advanced to meet her, and hand in hand they approached close to the jeddak. Than Kosis looked up in surprise, and, rising, saluted her.

“‘To what strange freak do I owe this visit from the Princess of Helium, who, two days ago, with rare consideration for my pride, assured me that she would prefer Tal Hajus, the green Thark, to my son.’

“Dejah Thoris only smiled the more and with the roguish dimples playing at the corners of her mouth she made answer:
“‘From the beginning of time upon Barsoom it has been the prerogative of woman to change her mind as she listed and to dissemble in matters concerning her heart. That you will forgive, Than Kosis, as has your son. Two days ago I was not sure of his love for me, but now I am, and I have come to beg of you to forget my rash words and to accept the assurance of the Princess of Helium that when the time comes she will wed Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga.’” (PM/22.)

Yes, a lot can happen in two days between a man and a maid, especially when he has her in bondage in a secret hiding place. There may even be a hint that Sab Than is well endowed and it’s this fact that finally persuaded her to give in.

It can, of course, always be argued that she is merely putting on an act in a diplomatic sacrificial move to save her country from devastation, putting the best face forward so to speak – but the fact that ERB explicitly pointed out that she was radiating when she entered the room – a state that is hard or impossible to fake, should put that argument to rest. One could just as easily argue that the radiance was due to the after-glow of good sex. Anyway, Than Kosis is pleased at her change of mind.

“‘I am glad that you have so decided,’ replied Than Kosis. ‘It is far from my desire to push war further against the people of Helium, and, your promise shall be recorded and a proclamation to my people issued forthwith.’

“‘It were better, Than Kosis,’ interrupted Dejah Thoris, ‘that the proclamation wait the ending of this war. It would look strange indeed to my people and to yours were the Princess of Helium to give herself to her country’s enemy in the midst of hostilities.’

“‘Cannot the war be ended at once?’ spoke Sab Than. ‘It requires but the word of Than Kosis to bring peace. Say it, my father, say the word that will hasten my happiness, and end this unpopular strife.’

“‘We shall see,’ replied Than Kosis, ‘how the people of Helium take to peace. I shall at least offer it to them.’

“Dejah Thoris, after a few seconds, turned and left the apartment, still followed by her guards.” (PM/22.)

Wow, if Dejah Thoris did do the nasty with Sab Than, it worked like a charm. The man is obviously stricken, downright whipped, and well under the bewitching spell of the princess.

With the competition of all the other hot babes on Barsoom, I sometimes forget how outrageously beautiful Dejah Thoris must be. So far she has driven a white man from Earth, a Green Martian Jeddak, and now the Prince of Zodanga, absolutely bonkers. Carter’s next move betrays his frail mental state and will forever seal his fate in Zodanga. That will be dealt with in Part Two.


I just realized I left out a key passage that helps to locate at least one above-the-ground reference to the River Iss. It comes when Sarkoja is confronted with her wickedness in betraying the mother of Sola by her lover, Tars Tarkas. He gives her an alternative, since he has experienced a streak of mercy as a result of his friendship with John Carter.

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

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

This explains why Tars Tarkas knew where the location was when he decided to take the voluntary pilgrimage when he longed to see his lover and his good friend, John Carter, again. 

Thus, one of the locations where you can be sure to find an ancient skiff left there conveniently by the Holy Therns, is in the vicinity of Thark. Thus, Thark, Zodanga, the atmosphere factory, and an above ground location of the River Iss, are all in the same general geographical area.

I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII
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. |.XII.2.| XIII.|.XIV.|.XV.

SYNTHETIC MEN OF MARS: Art and Commentary
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

The Lost Canals of Percival Lowell
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