Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

FAQs, Articles, Reviews, Persona Directory, Hall of Memory
Summarizing ERB's works one chapter at a time
Shorts, Novels, Poetry, Plays, Pulps
Articles, Contributors: Tangor Responds, Edgardemain, ERB: In Focus, Nkima Speaks, Beyond 30W, Tantor Trumpets, Dime Lectures, Korak in Pal-ul-don, Public Domain novels of ERB
Worlds of: Barsoom, Pellucidar, Moon, Amtor, Caspak, Pal-u-don
ERB Summary Project


John Carter (Dotar Sojat)

Dejah Thoris




Tardos Mors

Mors Kajak




Matai Shang (the Father of Therns) (the Holy Hekkador)

Lakor (a Holy Thern)

Torkar Bar (the Dwar of the Kaolian Road)

Kulan Tith (Jeddak of Kaol)

Thuvan Dihn (Jeddak of Ptarth)

Talu Prince of Marentina

Salensus Oll (Jeddak of Jeddaks of Okar)


Tars Tarkas

Kantos Kan (padwar, navy of Helium)

Venomous reptiles

Banths (Martian lion)

Sith (gigantic flying insect)


Apts (arctic monsters)

Warlord of Mars

Summarized by
The Members of ERBList

Stanley Galloway, Editor,
David Bruce Bozarth, Managing Editor

Introduction by

David Bruce Bozarth


Warlord of Mars is the final volume of the opening trilogy introducing Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom saga. First published in THE ALL-STORY magazine from December 1913 to March 1914, the manuscript had a number of working titles; Yellow Men of Barsoom, The Fighting Prince of Mars, Across Savage Mars, The Prince of Helium (as submitted to the editor), and The War Lord of Mars. A. C. McClurg published the first edition in September 1919 and Grosset & Dunlap's first reprint was the following year.

Chapter 1: On the River Iss

By David Bruce Bozarth

John Carter has waited six Martian months for the revolving shaft in the Temple of the Sun to release Dejah Thoris, who was imprisoned with Thuvia and Phaidor. He mentally recounts events while following a mysterious figure beside the Lost Sea of Korus. Carter describes the black government's reconstruction and exposure of Issus' religious fraud. Xodar had been made Jeddak of the First Born. Helium's throne was offered to Carter and refused; Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak had not returned from their search for Carthoris. Carthoris is named temporary Jeddak of Helium. Carter follows Thurid, a dator (prince) of the First Born. Thurid boards a small boat and enters the river Iss. Carter and his calot Woola follow. A mile inside the cavern, Thurid lands his craft. Carter hides near the opposite shore. Thurid greets a boatload of therns led by Matai Shang. Thurid boards and the therns paddle toward Carter. Carter paddles up a convergent subterranean river to avoid the second boat. Finding a place to pull aside, Carter waits for them to pass, but Thurid and Matai Shang, in argument, order their rowers to halt while they plot. Carter learns how to access the cells in the revolving shaft. Thurid intends to capture Dejah Thoris. Matai Shang desires the return of his daughter, Phaidor. Both agree to punish Carter by defiling Dejah Thoris. The plotters command the boatmen to continue. Carter curbs his rage and follows.

Chapter 2: Under the Mountains

By David Bruce Bozarth

Carter holds at the edge of a lighted underground lake until the thern boat disappears in darkness opposite. He is faced with the choice of three tunnels. The center path ends in a huge waterfall, a dead end. Returning to the underground juncture, Carter chooses the right, unhappy to have lost so many hours. Later, he is heartened to see a sorapus husk; it means he is back on the trail. Then he discovers that this branch also ends. Paddling into an eddy to rest, he hears what he could not see: the boat of the others tied near the wall. Carter speaks telepathically to Woola as they cross to a ledge, giving the animal an image of the people they chased. Miles later, Woola confidently leading, Carter arrives at a guardroom containing two therns. He speaks, hoping to pass unmolested. The guards attempt to deceive Carter as to the path taken by Thurid. Woola, following the scent, leads Carter down a different path. A clank of harness warns Carter. Quietly, he sees that Lakor and his companion thern guard had hurried ahead with drawn swords. Listening to their whispered conversation, Carter hopes to learn more, but at that moment, sneezes.

Chapter 3: The Temple of the Sun

By Stan Galloway

They swordfight, during which Lakor trips Carter with a belt. Woola shreds the therns, rescuing Carter. In Lakor's garb, he and Woola proceed as far as a chamber of venomous reptiles (found living nowhere else on Barsoom). They cross via an elevated walkway and attain the Temple of the Sun. Carter finds Thurid's radium flash torch, and later a door which will not open. After hours of study, he discovers that a pinhole lock is light-activated. Entering, they find passage, by Woola's insistent leading, to a room of transparent winding corridors, where they see in the distance Dejah Thoris, Thuvia, and Phaidor carried away by Matai Shang, Thurid and other therns.

Chapter 4: The Secret Tower

By Stan Galloway

After many tedious days, Carter and Woola find their way through the crystal labyrinth, beneath the Valley Dor and Golden Cliffs to the Otz Mountains just above the Valley of Lost Souls. Eventually they find the fortress of Matai Shang. By night in thern disguise Carter enters with Woola and is led by a guard to "Matai Shang," which is really an empty chamber. From there he moves to a courtyard where Matai Shang presides from a balcony with the others. Matai Shang pronounces a death sentence on Carter and announces his own marriage to Dejah Thoris to follow, for one year, after which she "shall become the plaything of [his] lieutenants." Carter taunts him and Thurid by trampling the holy wig and verbally denigrating Issus. Twelve banths are sent to battle them, but Thuvia calls the banths, in her way, to return to their dens. Carter springs to the balcony. Matai Shang and Thurid escape, while Phaidor propositions Carter. When he declines, she flees. Carter kills two guards and follows a third. After killing him, Carter ascends the outside of the tower to its roof, where he is kicked in the face by Thurid.

Chapter 5: On the Kaolian Road

By Bob Zeuschner

Carter topples from the tower top but the loop of his harness catches on a stone projection. Carter cautiously retraces his way to the roof after hearing the whirring propellers of their flier departing. Carter pulls out a second flier, picks up Woola from the inner court, and then races northeast toward the city of Kaol, following the ship bearing Matai Shang, Thurid, and Dejah Thoris, gaining hourly on Thurid's flier through the night. In daylight, Thurid recognizes Carter and fires a radium projectile, disabling Carter's ship and causing it to drift to the ground. Carter feigns death, so Thurid's flier continues in its journey. Carter is in the land of Kaol, an area of tropical heat and swamps. Carter is not sure where to go next, but Woola sets off into the maze of immense trees. After a night of fitful sleep, the pair stumble on a road and are attacked by a massive flying insect called a sith. Carter and Woola battle it, until a warrior mounted on a thoat comes to their rescue. Carter reveals his true identity, and the warrior responds, "If I may serve you, Prince, you have but to command Torkar Bar. [. . .]" He directs Carter to the city of Kaol. Carter smears his body with red pigment to disguise his white skin and seeks for a way to sneak into the city. He is frustrated and discouraged, and returns to the forest to sleep.

Chapter 6: A Hero in Kaol

By Bob Zeuschner

Carter awakens the next morning to the muffled sounds of green warriors, waiting to ambush anyone emerging through the city gate. The gate opens and a column of Kaolians begins to emerge. Carter leaps to warn the red men, and the tharks begin to rush in since their ambush has failed. Carter fights mightily, and the Kaolian warriors join the fray. The battle continues, and Carter distinguishes himself by his extraordinary skill with a sword and with his mighty leaps. The battle continues all day. The jeddak Kulan Tith asks Carter's name, and he replies "Dotar Sojat." The green men finally withdraw, and Carter is assigned comfortable quarters within the palace. Later, Carter says to the jeddak that he is from Hastor, and was in a flier accident. Matai Shang and Thurid enter the throne room. Kulan Tith tells them of "Dotar Sojat" and his incredible fighting style involving prodigious leaps. Carter thinks Matai Shang and Thurid suspect that Dotar Sojat is Carter in disguise, but they say nothing. Carter participates in the arrival of a visiting jeddak, and as soon as he can slip away, he begins to search the palace for Dejah Thoris. Someone follows Carter, and Carter believes it may be a Holy Thern. He cannot find Dejah Thoris, so he returns to his quarters and goes to sleep. Woola is not in his room. Later in the night Carter awakens when something cold and wet rubs his forehead. He is unable to catch the person. A minute later a dozen Kaolian guardsmen enter, and in an unfriendly manner say, "Kulan Tith commands your presence before him. Come!"

Chapter 7: New Allies

By Nkima

Carter is taken before Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol. His disguise of red pigment is revealed by Thurid. Kulan Tith consigns Carter to the pits but not before Carter presents a fist to the face of Thurid, knocking out some teeth. Carter draws his sword but a fight is prevented by the intervention of Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth. He explains how he owes the life of his daughter, Thuvia, to Carter and how his exposure of the evils of the Holy Therns was a blessing to everyone. Kulan Tith, still a true believer, banishes Carter from Kaol forever and tells Thuvan Dihn to settle his differences with Matai Shang, the Father of Therns, elsewhere. Carter tells Kulan Tith that Matai Shang is holding both Dejah Thoris and Thuvia prisoner at Kaol. Matai Shang denies the charges, but Kulan Tith promises their release if it is true. They agree to wait until morning, but when the hour of deliverance arrives, Matai Shang has fled. Kulan Tith feels responsible and offers his aid. A guard admits to helping Matai Shang escape -- he had been told an assassin threatened the Holy Hekkador's life -- but he is excused as a mistaken "true believer" in the old religion. Carter, Thuvan Dihn, and Woola follow Matai Shang in a repaired flier.

Chapter 8: Through the Carrion Caves

By Nkima

They fly to the ice barrier of the pole and crash into an ice-wall. Carter and Thuvan Dihn decide to walk around the barrier to find a way through. They are especially wary of meeting an apt, a huge, white-furred creature with six limbs, a horned mouth, and two multi-ocular eyes. After killing several apts, they meet one with a golden collar that trots away. Woola helps them track the apt to the Carrion Caves. They suspect they have reached the home of the legendary yellow men. The heroes draw their swords and make their way through the putrid mush of decaying flesh through a series of caves until they meet the lair of apts in the eighth cave. They send Woola back to Carthoris for help with a note in a metal case around his neck. All the apts fall asleep but for one sentry. They trick it, and cut its head off. They pass the sleeping apts and a series of 27 connecting chambers. Apts only sleep one day a month, so they were fortunate heroes indeed. After the caves they come across the black-bearded yellow men who each carry two swords (one hooked), a short javelin, small shields on their left arms, and a dagger. Six men dressed in the black and yellow striped hide of the orluk are about to ambush a man dressed in the white fur of an apt. When the six yellow men attack the other man they yell like Apaches. The man kills one of his adversaries, and Carter joins the battle, standing with the lone warrior against the five remaining attackers.

Chapter 9: With the Yellow Men

By Stan Galloway

With Thuvan Dihn's help the three kill the five attackers. The rescued man is Talu, Prince of Marentina. Talu tells them that Helium's "ruler and his company" are captives of Salensus Oll, Talu's uncle, with whom he is at war. They go to Marentina, a nearly inaccessible glass-domed city, a hothouse of sorts in the arctic. Here Thuvan Dihn and Carter are transformed into the appearance of yellow men to aid their infiltration of Salensus Oll's ranks. Talu gives Carter a ring that will vibrate within 50 feet of another of its kind, indicating another person trusted by Talu is near. Carter and Thuvan Dihn go to a cave outside the glass-domed city of Kadabra. The following morning they hail a hunting party and join them, returning to the city with them at night. Just before entering, a war vessel comes in view, and they all watch as the ship is drawn speedily to its destruction on a magnetic shaft. The survivors are taken captive and all enter the city.

Chapter 10: In Durance

By Stan Galloway

Carter and Thuvan Dihn go to a public house. Public houses employ guards to protect from assassination; the guard nearest Carter's space, as are many others, is a red slave from whom he gains information. The next morning the two volunteer for service in the palace guard. They are quartered in the palace to await approval by Salensus Oll. From his quarters Carter sees then calls to Dejah Thoris and Thuvia, who spurn him, unrecognized. Thurid enters the garden where the women pace; he begs Dejah Thoris to come with him to escape Matai Shang. She says she would prefer "a plant man or a great white ape" to either of them. Thurid loses his temper and grabs her. Carter rips the bars from his room window and leaps to her defense. Salensus Oll interrupts their struggle and Carter explains that as an aspirant to the guard he had seen Thurid molesting the woman. While at first Salensus Oll seems to believe Carter's account, Matai Shang whispers something to him that causes him to order Carter put in chains.

Chapter 11: The Pit of Plenty

By David Bruce Bozarth

Carter reviews events of the previous days while incarcerated. On the third day he is tried before Salensus Oll; Dejah Thoris is also present. Salensus Oll declares he will wed Carter's wife, but Dejah Thoris sets him straight regarding her availability. Thurid exposes Carter's disguise. Salensus Oll sentences Carter to a "natural death" in the Pit of Plenty. On the way, the ring from Prince Talu tingles; a man gives a sign, displaying a like ring. Carter is lowered into a hundred-foot deep pit with polished walls. Carter is psychologically tortured for nine days by food being illuminated, but unobtainable behind the walls. A small packet with food pills is dropped, along with a message.

Chapter 12: "Follow the Rope!"

By: David Bruce Bozarth

Carter escapes via a thin-stranded rope and deciphers another message of warning just as an apt is being lowered into the pit. Exiting via a side passage fifty feet from the bottom, he follows the rope to spy on a chamber of controls and instruments wherein is Solan and Thurid plotting. Thurid bribes Solan so that he might steal Dejah Thoris before Salensus Oll can wed her. Thurid repeats his escape route to Solan, to make sure it is correct. After Thurid leaves, Carter hears Solan voice his intended treachery. Carter manages to continue his escape, following the rope, only to find it cut a short distance farther. Making a choice of avenues, Carter ends up in a guardroom and surrenders to the yellow man wearing the ring. Taking Carter away, the officer lulls the curiosity of his men and helps Carter escape and redirects the pursuit. Carter comes upon a dozen red men polishing weapons under three yellow guards. The Virginian does battle, recognizing Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak, then belatedly learns all the red men are shackled to the floor.

Chapter 13: The Magnet Switch

By Stan Galloway

Carter in swordplay kills one and forces the remaining two guards, one of whom is calling for help, to within reach of the weapons of the chained slaves. Carter secures the room before reinforcements arrive. While guards hack at the door, Carter cuts away at the chains of Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak, freeing them as pieces of the door begin to fall. Mors Kajak uses a pike to slow the progress of the guards, while the others work to free the remaining slaves. The guards break through while one red slave remains chained. Nine freed red men and Carter assault the incoming guards while two red men work to free the bound man. When he is freed, Carter's contingent retreats toward the upper chambers of the tower. When they reach the top of the tower, they see the army of Helium entering the city, led by Carthoris, Woola and Tars Tarkas. To their horror, they then see Helium's air fleet being drawn to their destruction by the magnetic shaft. Remembering seeing the controls for the magnet, Carter turns the assault to descend the stairway with such force that at the end the remaining guards flee from the imagined army that must be following him. He bursts into the control room where the old man, Solan, gives unexpected swordsmanship in defense, nearly killing Carter. Carter manages, resigned to die in doing so, to slap the switch with his sword, releasing the magnet. Solan in alarm turns his attention to the switch as Carter skewers him.

Chapter 14: Tide of Battle

By Bill Hillman

Carter disables the destructive switch permanently and, hearing Solan's guardsmen, flees down a passageway to what turns out to be an antechamber where he hears Salensus Oll addressing his nobles. Carter springs from his hiding place when he sees the Jeddak present a manacled Dejah Thoris to his nobles as the next queen of Okar. He leaps to the dais to wrest his princess from the scoundrel and to protect her from the advancing nobles. The ensuing half-hour battle heats up when Kantos Kan leads his warriors into the chamber, only to be met by enemy reinforcements. In the melee, Carter notices the taunting, cunning faces of Matai Shang and Phaidor, who soon disappear through a doorway. Victory finally won, Carter turns to embrace his beloved, only to find that she is gone!

Chapter 15: Rewards

By Bill Hillman

Carter realizes that Thurid has abducted Dejah Thoris and has gone down the corridor taken by Matai Shang and Phaidor. Recalling the directions he overheard from Solan, he makes it safely through the hazardous passageway. After donning winter clothing he follows their trail through the snow until he sees a cave mouth from which a flier has been dragged. Dejah Thoris's abductors double their efforts to launch the malfunctioning flier when they see their pursuer racing toward them. After a near-disastrous fall, Carter gets close enough to make a desperate 30-foot leap to grasp a trailing rope. He climbs to the rail just as Thurid throws Matai Shang to his death. Then, as Thurid lunges at Carter, a repenting Phaidor steps between them, kills the black dator, and leaps to her own death.

Chapter 16: New Ruler

By Bill Hillman

After landing the crippled flier, Carter and Dejah Thoris return to the chamber of Solan where they are threatened by an angry mob of escaping nobles. With his hand on the "death lever," Carter holds them at bay until Talu and his rebels arrive. He then addresses the victorious warriors from all over Barsoom -- red, white, black, yellow and green -- and declares Talu the new Jeddak. Reunited at last, Carter, Dejah Thoris, Carthoris and Thuvia, retire to the seclusion of the palace's inner courtyard. When the mighty air fleet returns to Helium they are given a jubilant welcome but Carter is summoned to the Temple of Reward to face a stern tribunal of mighty Jeddaks. When he is ordered to the Pedestal of Truth, he is surprised to be declared Jeddak of Jeddaks -- Warlord of Barsoom - an honor shared by his wife, the incomparable Dejah Thoris.