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ERB Summary Project


Jason Gridley

Ulysses Paxton

Edgar Rice Burroughs—(Narrator)

Tan Hadron

Sanoma Tora

Tor Hatan

Tul Axtar, Jeddak

Sil Vagas

John Carter

Kal Tavan


Nur An

Haj Osis, Jed

Phor Tak


Yo Seno



Prince Haj Alt

Fighting Man of Mars

Summarized by

NKIMA (David Arthur Adams)


A Fighting Man of Mars is the seventh book in the Mars series, originally published in six-parts in Blue Book Magazine, May to September 1930. It is an interesting and exciting novel filled with futuristic scientific inventions. There are five enemy cities or lands encountered in this tale with five wonderfully drawn villains: Xanator with the green men and white apes; Tjanath with Haj Osis and "The Death"; Ghasta with Ghron the "spider"; Jhama with Phor Tak the mad scientist; and U-Gor with the cannibals. It is a high adventure in the best tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Foreword by ERB

Jason Gridley communicates with Ulysses Paxton on Mars via Gridley Wave. However, it is ERB himself who receives the first message, this present tale, the story of Hadron of Hastor told as a first person narrative. Burroughs also provides a brief description of the principal races of Mars as a kind of review since this is his 7th Mars book.

Chapter 1: Sanoma Tora

Tan Hadron, a Padwar (lieutenant) at Helium is in love with Sanoma Tora, daughter of Tor Hatan, the Umak commander (military unit of 10,000 men). Tor Hatan, of the lower nobility, invites Hadron to his palace to curry royal favor since Tan Hadron, though poor, is descended from a princess of Gathol. Sanoma spurns Hadron's declaration of love. He is too poor and low in military rank and, furthermore, her father has been approached by an emissary of the Jeddak Tul Axtar of Jahar for her hand. Later, Sanoma is abducted in a mysterious silent flier. The ship is armed with a weapon that disintegrates the metal of a pursuing airship. Hadron is accused of the abduction by Sil Vagas, a Teedwar (colonel). According to one of the slaves who survived the attack, Sil Vagas was present at the abduction but behaved as a coward. Hadron is cleared by the testimony of the slave, and goes in search of Sanoma. Her father promises the girl's hand should Hadron succeed in the rescue attempt. Hadron heads in a one-man flier to John Carter’s palace.

Chapter Two: Brought Down

John Carter gives Hadron permission to search for Sanoma. The metal disintegrating gun on the mysterious flier causes Carter to send a thousand one-man scout fliers along with cruisers and battleships in the search; the weapon represents a new level of destructiveness never before seen. Hadron surmises Tul Axtar of Jahar is responsible for the abduction. He obtains a photostat of the harness and insignia of Jahar from the Temple of Knowledge, which the slave Kal Tavan, who witnessed the abduction, identifies as the abductors. Sending notice of his discovery to Carter, Hadron immediately flies toward the southern hemisphere of Barsoom in search of Jahar. Hadron further believes Sanoma is to be a slave of Tul Axtar rather than his bride. Tan Hadron's one-man ship is powered by the magnetic field of Barsoom at 300 miles per hour. Later, as he passes over the deserted city of Torquas, his flier is disabled by green Martian rifle fire. Nursing his altitude, Tan Hadron continues on until he is forced to land near another deserted city.

Chapter Three: Cornered

Hadron walks to the city wondering if any green men or great white apes might be around. He ascends a tower with many levels, entering the top level via a wooden trap door. Hearing a sound, he sees a man-eating white ape below. Hadron slams the trap door and locks it. The ape cannot get to him, but Hadron is cornered. Checking the outside of the tower, there seems no means to descend. He could kill the ape, but the beasts always travel in groups; the noise of battle would undoubtedly attract more. A party of twenty green men and captive red woman arrive on thoats. Thinking she might be Sanoma Tora, Tan Hadron risks all to climb down the outside of the tower at night. His sword scrapes the stone; at the base, the ape is waiting for Hadron. The warrior dispatches the ape, then goes toward the building the green men had entered. Hadron enters by a window, and crossing the room his foot touches a soft body in the darkness.

Chapter Four: Tavia

Hadron discovers it is the captive girl and cuts her bonds. As they leave the building she asks for his short sword, declaring her competency with the weapon. Hadron plans to steal a thoat for their escape. Leaving the girl behind, he telepathically calls a thoat then leads the animal to the gate. The couple mount and ride without further incident, with all the other thoats following. Tan Hadron notices her short hair and boyish face and figure, and momentarily thinks she is a man. She reveals she is a slave recently escaped from Tul Axtar. She was captured from Tjanath as a child, but before her enslavement she had been trained to use arms and how to navigate small fliers. When Tul Axtar had “sent for her,” she escaped by taking in a one-man flier. Later, she had landed at the mantalia grove near Xanator to obtain food. Not long after she was captured by green men who did not know she had arrived by flier. The couple exchange names. She is Tavia. They locate Tavia's flier, and though overburdened and cramped, is flightworthy. Hadron reveals his mission and Tavia agrees to take him to Jahar. Tavia suggests they go to Tjanath first to obtain a disguise. In the morning Hadron wonders why the flier is painted a “ghastly blue.”

Chapter Five: To The Pits

Hadron and Tavia talk on the long trip to Tjanath and become well acquainted. They travel two nights and a day. He is distinctly sorry when they arrive, nor is Tavia pleased to be home...she has no friends but Hadron. Patrol boats surround their flier, which is Jaharian, therefore an enemy of Tjanath. Forced to land, they are disarmed and made prisoner. Tavia is confined to the East tower and Hadron is sent to the pits. Hadron is chained next to Nur An, a Jaharian Tul Axtar imprisoned to steal the man's mate and confiscate his property. Nur An escaped to Tjanath, but was imprisoned as a spy by Haj Osis, the Jed. Nur An tells Hadron of the 200 year reign of Tul Axtar and the breeding program that had produced millions of warriors to conquer the world, but Tul Axtar is a coward, and thus waited for a superior weapon to be invented. Phor Tak had developed a rifle of amazing properties; an invisible ray that disintegrates metals. A defense was also developed, the ghastly blue paint on all ships of Jahar. Hadron realizes the Heliumetic fleet is in great danger if they follow his lead and attack Jahar. Now he must escape to save both Sanoma and all of Helium.

Chapter Six: Sentenced To Die

Haj Osis judges Hadron a spy from Jahar. He, and Nur An, are sentenced to “The Death.” Later, as a guard unlocks their chains, Hadron kills the guard. Armed with long sword, and Nur An with the short, they slay the other guard then don their uniforms. Boldly passing through other guards, they reach the third level. Ducking a troop of guards in a corridor, they enter a room and face a young woman. They demand the girl prisoner (Tavia). The woman says she is not here: the apartment of the infant son of Haj Osis. Nur An recognizes Phao and she remembers him. Agreeing to help, Nur An is hidden in a large closet. Hadron is taken to Yo Seno, the keeper of the keys, East tower. Yo Seno demands a written order to deliver Tavia. Hadron draws his sword. Yo Seno sounds the alarm. Phao darkens the room then leads Hadron to safety--and she has taken the necessary key. Phao reveals to Hadron that Yo Seno is a beast who may have indecently visited Tavia, news which enrages Hadron. Via secret panel they reach Tavia’s apartment. Tavia is glad to see Hadron. He reads her expression as friendship, kissing her forehead. When they return to the secret panel, it is open. Hadron thinks he sees someone in the passageway, but no one is there.

Chapter Seven: The Death

Phao leaves Hadron and Tavia in the secret corridor. When Phao returns they are captured by Yo Seno’s guards. Hadron and Nur An are taken to the pits. Placed into an iron cage, they are lowered through a trap door. Ghastly sounds come from below. The constant roar, as they come closer, sounds like wind and rushing water. They are dropped into an underground river in a vast cavern. Hadron learns Phao was Nur An’s first love as they walk along the shore. They flee a great white lizard. Finding swords their confidence is restored. Downstream they find a mound of human bones, victims of the white lizard. The lizard attacks again. Hadron throws a short sword into the open mouth of the lizard, propping its mouth open. They quickly dispatch the creature. They make a meal of raw fish and sleep. Pressing on, they reach a valley lit by sunlight. It is filled with strange, lovely vegetation. They are threatened by large, venomous spiders with 12 legs which travel on webs covering the nearby terrain. Noticing the insects are helpless without their webs, Hadron cuts strands then slays the spiders. Continuing through the valley, they come upon a black tower. A gloomy city surrounds the tower, but lovely maids entice them to enter for food, wine, and love. A small door opens and, after they enter, locks behind them.

Chapter Eight: The Spider Of Ghasta

The beautiful maidens take them to the black tower. What population is visible is unnerving; sad, dejected folks under the eye fat, oily-looking guards, one of whom welcomes them to Ghasta. Inside, they see a great tapestry created by a mad mind, and four of the girls dance for them. They are taken before Ghron, the Jed of Ghasta, who looks like a black hairy ape. Hadron and Nur an tell their story to the Jed. At a banquet they remark on the gossamer-like silver fabric of the wall coverings, which are, they learn, spun by slaves from the spider’s silk. Near the end of the banquet they are entertained by horribly deformed female dancers, who are ridiculed by the audience and by Ghron. Then Hadron and Nur An consume drugged wine. Manacled, they are taken to the pits where they witness tortures and mutilations. The men are given the choice of being grilled, broken, or to become torturers themselves. Hadron chooses the fire. One of the girls who led them into the city expresses sorrow, but she had to do this or suffer the tortures. Ghron is revealed as wholly evil, the “human spider of Ghasta.” Nur An also chooses the fire. However, they tell the girl to tell Ghron they are almost persuaded to work for him as they work out a plan of escape. She thinks they will never escape.

Chapter Nine: Phor Tak of Jhama

Returned to their prison in the tower, Hadron and Nur An are left unmanacled. They search for an escape and pry a bar from their window, but it is 200 feet to the ground. The tapestry of spider web is too strong to tear to make a rope. Hadron climbs through the window and can reach the roof. The chimney is pouring forth almost unbearable waves of heat with terrific velocity. Sharu, the slave girl, returns. The heroes beg for more time to make their decisions. and Sharu leaves them a dagger and a needle as Hadron requests. They make an enormous bag from the wall coverings. Hadron takes the bag to the roof, then pulls Nur An up with a rope. They escape in a hot air balloon filled with the heat from the chimney. They come to a strange city of white buildings with flat roofs. Getting off on a rooftop, the bag (now cooler and heavier) falls to the ground beyond the outer wall. They are greeted by Phor Tak, who is known to Nur An, the scientist who developed the deadly invisible disintegrating ray. Phor Tak befriends them, they are enemies of Tul Axtar, who had previously treated the scientist poorly. Phor Tak found this deserted city after leaving Jahar and calls it Jhama. Phor Tak, seeking revenge, is working on a weapon more deadly than the disintegration ray. He agrees to let Hadron and Nur an in on his secret weapon if they will help him.

Chapter Ten: The Flying Death

Phor Tak demonstrates his blue-paint-seeking torpedo, and his invisible paint that will make the missiles invisible and thus invulnerable. This is his “Flying Death.” He plans to make war by himself on all the cities of Barsoom and become Jeddak of Jeddaks, ruler of a world. Unfortunately, the formulas are only in Phor Tak’s brain, so Hadron must play along and bide his time. Phor Tak plans to launch his missiles and let them find the blue-painted ships of Jahar at random. He has no ship to go to Jahar. Hadron helps him build one. It is a cylinder pointed at both ends like the Flying Death, painted blue, then painted invisible. Only the eye of a periscope is visible. Phor Tak doubts their loyalty, so he says he will permit Hadron to attack Jahar alone while he holds Nur An hostage.

Chapter Eleven: “Let The Fire Be Hot!”

Hadron flies toward Jahar, worried about both Sanoma in Jahar and Tavia in Tjanath. He has rifles with 3 types of disintegrating rays: for metal, for wood, for human flesh. He also carries a mysterious vial. Thinking of Tavia, he disengages the automatic pilot, and turns the ship toward Tjanath. Hovering outside her tower window, she is gone. Landing on the roof hanger, he kills a lone guard and takes his harness as a disguise to Yo Seno’s room. Hadron kills him. Using the secret corridor, he goes to Tavia’s room. He wonders why his heart is beating so heavily. Tavia is being assaulted by the son of Haj Osis -- Prince Haj Alt. The coward escapes through the secret panel and locks the door behind him. Phao, who was also in the room, cannot open it, and the forandus metal is too hard to break. Hadron thinks of using the secret vial, but the door opens revealing 50 warriors. He tells the padwar he is a hired assassin here to kill the Prince. Hadron is taken to his old cell in the pits and fettered to a stone wall. Hadron is taken before Haj Osis to be accused by his son, the Prince. Finally, he is recognized as the spy from Jahar who died “The Death.” He is sent to be tortured by fire, “hot, but slow.”

Chapter Twelve: The Cloak of Invisibility

Hadron leaps to the dais taking Haj Osis captive with his own dagger. He tell the guards they are going into the ante room behind the throne and not to bother them for 5 xats (about 15 minutes). Hadron ties and blindfolds Haj, tears down a silk hanging and makes it invisible with the contents of the vial. Covering himself with the cloak of invisibility, he takes the blindfold off Haj. Hadron, invisible, has some trouble escaping the palace. He is nearly bumped into several times, but finally reaches the hangar. His invisible ship is gone! Stealing another, thinking it is one of Haj Osis’ fast, royal fliers, he is almost stopped. The guards are astonished that no one is at the controls. Ships pursue and quickly catch up with him, but amazingly Hadron finds his invisible ship and quickly enters it. For some reason a ship follows him and Hadron disintegrates it. He feels like a murderer. He notices a shutter was raised, which had given his position away. Hiding until nightfall, Hadron hovers beneath Tavia’s window and calls her. She comes; Phao is there, he takes both aboard the Jhama.

Chapter Thirteen: Tul Axtar’s Women

Leaving Tjanath, Hadron explains everything, and the girls agree to go with him to Jahar to rescue Sanoma. They learn how to fly the ship and Tavia is trained to use the ray rifle. At Jahar they find the city encircled by blue-painted fliers. Torn between warning John Carter, Hadron decides to rescue Sanoma first. He may never again have this chance. Hovering above the tower close to the women’s quarters, Hadron dons his cloak of invisibility and enters the tower. Sanoma Tora is not among the 1500 women of Tul Axtar’s harem. Tul Axtar arrives, the women pass before him. Suddenly, Hadron sees Sanoma Tora. His heart does not thrill, but he follows her to her room and reveals his presence and the invisibility cloak. He explains how they can escape. She tells him it must be soon for Tul has just picked her for the night. Cloaking himself, but before he can return to his ship, Tul Axtar arrives with a half dozen masculine-looking women. He tells the women to leave, then Tul touches Sanoma’s bare shoulder and say he will have her. Hadron lets his invisibility cloak fall away.

Chapter Fourteen: The Cannibals of U-Gor

Hadron binds and gags Tul Axtar. Leaving Sanoma with a dagger, he returns to the Jhama, which is soon brought to the girl's window. Sanoma Tora and the Jahar ruler are brought aboard. Hadron has Phao write a note warning the Jaharians that if they attack any ship of Helium, Tul Axtar will be killed. The note is left in the girl’s room. Phao steers the ship toward Helium while Hadron and Tavia sleep. Hadron awakens bound -- captured by Tul Axtar! Tavia and Phao are also bound, but Sanoma is simply cowering against a wall. Tul Axtar turns the ship back to Jahar, saying he has promised “someone” he would not kill Hadron. Instead he will put him off in the province of U-Gor. Tul Axtar maroons Hadron and Tavia, keeping Phao and Sanoma. He does leave them weapons. Hadron imagines Sanoma has betrayed them. Hadron and Tavia embrace, but he still thinks of her as a friend, even though he now thinks she is more beautiful than Sanoma. Tavia knows that the land of U-Gor is filled with cannibals. It is a barren land -- every plant and animal has been eaten. Tavia keeps up with Hadron on the march, and he remarks that they are well-matched. They are followed by 3 men, and when Hadron reaches for his cloak of invisibility, it is gone along with the vial. This, too, they think, is Sanoma’s treachery. They decide to stand and fight side-by-side.

Chapter Fifteen: The Battle Of Jahar

Tavia kills a beast-man. They dispatch the other two. Hadron muses on Tavia’s skill. The mates of the dead men descend to devour the bodies. Hadron and Tavia continue their march. They are again followed and forced to fight to survive. They take turns sleeping. A pack of hunting men pursue them into the hills. Cornered atop a high mountain, Hadron prepares to kill Tavia so she will not be taken alive. They kiss. His raised dagger strikes the invisible ship, the Jhama! Now airborne, they come upon the blue-painted fleet of Jahar facing the navy of Helium. A Helium battleship disintegrates, sending a thousand warriors to their death. Hadron disintegrates the men on the Jaharian cruiser then jumps aboard to raise the flag of surrender. The two fleets engage with conventional weapons. Helium's better-trained navy is winning, so Tul Axtar flees to Jahar. Hadron stands on the deck of the Jhama (seeming to float in the air). He boards a Heliumetic battleship with a plan; stand back from the disintegration rays while he captures 20 blue-painted invulnerable ships. Tavia will not leave Hadron, so he takes 2 men on the Jhama's mission. Disintegrating the men aboard Jaharian ships, the now unmanned vessels are sent toward Helium’s fleet. Meanwhile, ships from Helium destroy others at long range. The captured ships are turned on the enemy, impervious to the disintegrating rays; dozens of ships surrender, the rest scatter and flee. The Heliumetic fleet moves toward Jahar protected by more than 30 of captured ships.

Chapter Sixteen: Despair

Hadron thinks Tul Axtar will surrender. A truce ship is sent. Hadron and Tavia, in the Jhama, prepare to kidnap Tul Axtar again, if necessary, and to rescue Phao and Sanoma. Hadron flies to the window and sees Phao and Sanoma. He enters the room. Tul Axtar appears, pursued by a mob wanting blood. Hadron will take the Jeddak, but Tul Axtar goes to the cabinet and dons the cloak of invisibility. He boards the Jhama and leaves with Tavia. Hadron, angry with Sanoma, leads her to the tower hanger to board the truce ship. Meanwhile, the palace falls to the mob. Nobles flee on every craft available. Hadron despairs searching for Tavia. Tul Axtar has the invisible ship. John Carter gives him a fast flier. Sanoma begs Hadron’s forgiveness, declaring her love. He tells her he loves a slave girl. Phao asks to accompany him, worried about Nur An. Later, she explains how Tul lost the Jhama. Hadron then protests when Phao tells him he loves Tavia. At Phor Tak’s laboratory, Tul Axtar is there. Phor Tak is about to disintegrate the Jaharian. Hadron intervenes, desperate to learn of Tavia’s whereabouts. Phor Tak dons an invisibility cloak as Hadron fires. Simultaneously, Hadron falls through a trap door into the pits. Tan Hadron escapes, reaching the roof as Tul Axtar enters the Jhama below him. The hatch closes. He leaps into space.

Chapter Seventeen: I Find A Princess

Hadron lands on the narrow walkway of the ship. Tul races away, and Hadron is almost blown off the ship. Tan Hadron blinds the periscope with a pouch, forcing Tul Axtar to slow down and use the open ports to navigate. Hadron enters the aft hatch, which is not locked, and shoots Tul through his putrid heart. Tavia is rescued. They weep and kiss. Hadron finally admits his love to her. They roll Tul’s dead body out of the ship and return to Jhama. They find Phor Tak dead under his invisibility cloak where Hadron shot him. Hadron then disintegrates all the fantastic weapons in the room. Hadron, Tavia, Phao, and Nur An fly back to Helium. It is then learned that Tavia is a real princess, daughter of Kal Tavan, once Jeddak of Tjanath, who was the slave in the palace of Tor Hatan who had witnessed the abduction of Sanoma Tora.

The End