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The Warlord of Mars is a science fiction novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the third of his famous Barsoom series. Burroughs began writing it in June, 1913, going through five working titles; Yellow Men of Barsoom, The Fighting Prince of Mars, Across Savage Mars, The Prince of Helium, and The War Lord of Mars.

The finished story was first published in All-Story Magazine as a four-part serial in the issues for December, 1913-March, 1914.[1] It was later published as a complete novel by A. C. McClurg in September, 1919.

Plot introduction[]

This novel continues where the previous one in the series, The Gods of Mars abruptly ended. At the end of the previous book, John Carter's wife, the princess Dejah Thoris, is imprisoned in the Temple of the Sun by the vile pretender goddess Issus. It is said one has to wait an entire Barsoomian year before the room the prisoner is in revolves back to the entrance.[2]

Plot summary[]

Six months have passed since the previous book, and John Carter is still searching for an alternative way to get Dejah Thoris out of the Temple of the Sun. When he follows a mysterious figure beside the Lost Sea of Korus, he discovers that the First Born Thurid and the Thern Matai Shang have joined forces to get revenge at Carter for exposing their religion as a fraud. Carter and Woola follow them when they enter an underground river, which leads to a secret tunnel to the Temple of the Sun. He cannot, however, prevent Dejah Thoris, Thuvia, and Phaidor from being carried away by Matai Shang, Thurid and other Therns.

Thus begins a quest by John Carter to liberate his beloved wife. Thurid and Matai Shang first flee to Kaol, where the religion of Issus is still holding strong. Disguised as a Red Martian Carter also enters the city. He makes it into the palace of the jeddak, Kulan Tith. Fortunately for him, Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth, is also there, and he can testify that Carter is on their side and saved his daughter Thuvia. 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 and Thurid are forced to flee again with their prisoners, now going north. Carter follows close behind, along with Woola and Thuvan Dihn.

The chase now takes them to the North Pole, to the hidden city of the Okar. Here Carter and Thuvan Dihn save Talu, prince of Marentina, from assasination. 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. Disguised as Yellow Men, Carter and Thuvan Dihn volunteer for service in the palace guard. They are quartered in the palace to await approval by Salensus Oll. From his quarters Carter sees Dejah Thoris and Thuvia. Thurid enters the garden where the women pace; he begs Dejah Thoris to come with him to escape Matai Shang. When she rejects him, 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.

Three days later, Carter 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. Carter escapes via a thin-stranded rope and deciphers another message of warning just as an apt is being lowered into the pit.

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.

After defeating Solan in combat, Carter disables the destructive switch permanently, disabling the magnetic shaft that usually destroys any ship that comes too close to the city. In an half-hour battle 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. 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.

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.


  • John Carter: Protagonist of the first three novels. Carter is an American Civil War veteran, transported to the planet Mars by a form of astral projection. There, he encounters both formidable alien creatures and various warring Martian races, wins the hand of Martian princess Dejah Thoris, and rises to the position of Warlord of Mars.
  • Dejah Thoris: A Martian Princess of Helium, who is courageous, tough and always holds her resolve, despite being frequently placed in both mortal danger and the threat of being dishonored by the lustful designs of villains. She is the daughter of Mors Kajak, jed of Lesser Helium and granddaughter of Tardos Mors, jeddak of Helium, highly aristocratic and fiercely proud of her heritage.[3] She is the love interest of John Carter.[4] She was imprisoned by the Martian false deity Issus, at the end of The Gods of Mars.[2] A central character in the first three Barsoom novels, whose capture by various enemies, and subsequent pursuit by John Carter, is a constant motivating force in these tales.
  • Tars Tarkas: A Green Martian unusual among his savage race for his ability to love, who befriends John Carter and fights many battles at his side.
  • Thuvia of Ptarth: A Princess of Ptarth, who first appears in The Gods of Mars, as a slave girl, rescued by John Carter from the nefarious Therns. She is later imprisoned with Carter's wife Dejah Thoris, in a prison which can only be opened once per year and remains by her side until the conclusion of The Warlord of Mars.[5] Like many of Burroughs Martian heroines, she is tough, courageous, proud and strongly identifies with her aristocratic position in Martian society.[6]

Cover Gallery[]


  1. Sampson, p. 182.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Porges, p. 163.
  3. Holtsmark, pp. 28-9.
  4. Holtsmark, p. 22.
  5. Bleiler & Bleiler, pp. 98-100.
  6. Holtsmark, pp. 29-30.
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