Encyclopedia Barsoomia Wiki

Thuvia, Maid of Mars is the fourth book in Burroughs' Martian series. Related in the third person, it features Carthoris, son of the warlord John Carter and his wife Dejah Thoris, and his quest to rescue his love interest, Thuvia, princess of Ptarth.


In this novel the focus shifts from John Carter, Warlord of Mars, and Dejah Thoris of Helium, protagonists of the first three books in the series, to their son, Carthoris, prince of Helium, and Thuvia, princess of Ptarth. Helium and Ptarth are both prominent Barsoomian city state/empires, and both Carthoris and Thuvia were secondary characters in the previous novel.

Its plot devices are similar to the previous Martian novels, involving the kidnapping of a Martian princess. This time John Carter's son Carthoris is implicated. It does however have some inventive and original ideas, including an autopilot and collision detection device for Martian fliers, and the creation of the Lotharians, a race of ancient martians who have become adept at telepathic projection, able to create imaginary warriors that can kill, and sustain themselves through thought alone

Burroughs began writing Thuvia, Maid of Mars, in April 1914, at the time describing it as a 'Carthoris' story. After a break in California, he had begun a furious writing schedule, including other works as well as what was to become Thuvia, Maid of Mars. A new editor, Robert H. Davis, had replaced Newell Metcalf, the previous editor of All-Story Magazine (which had published Burrough's previous Barsoom novels), at the now amalgamated All-story Cavalier Weekly. Davis wrote to Burroughs on June 12, 1914 after reading previous fiction (including Tarzan), suggesting ideas and suggesting a meeting. Burroughs finished the story on June 20, 1914. Burroughs reached New York on June 23, and several days later mailed the finished typescript of what was still entitled "Carthoris", describing it as "another Martian story" he wished "to sell for use in All-Story Cavalier Weekly.

Plot summary[]

The story begins with Thuvia being roughly wooed by Astok, Prince of Dusar. Carthoris, the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, punches the man who has dared to lay a hand upon the Princess. That night Astok left Ptarth aboard his battleship remarking that the fleet which has departed for Kaolshould be recalled to cruise west of the city. As they fly away, Carthoris declares his love to Thuvia. She tells him that she is promised by her father to Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol, who is a friend of John Carter. Carthoris is on a visit to Ptarth to test his new auto-pilot device, which he calls a "destination compass." A giant red man with a scar sabotages the device however.

That night Thuvia is kidnapped by warriors from Dusar. Aboard a ship flying toward Helium, others are making a key from the sandal impression. The warrior-artificer, Larok, claims, "Man builds naught that man may not destroy." Vas Kor's ship lands at Helium greeted by guards sluggish with the city's "Stagnant, emasculating peace." The key is done, and Vas Kor dons his forged Heliumetic metal and enters Helium unnoticed because all Martian men are warriors, wearing a sword at their hip. Without a sword even a boy would be as uncomfortable "as an Earth boy walking the streets knickerbockerless." After a long description of the city of Helium in the morning, Vas Kor travels 75 miles from Lesser to Greater Helium in a few seconds via the underground monorail. He disguises himself as a slave and is sold to the household of Carthoris at the public slave market.

Carthoris, suspected of the abduction of Thuvia, plans to go to Ptarth to set the record straight and aid in her recovery, but because of the sabotaged compass he soon finds himself in a dead city. He discovers the tampered dials, then sees a red woman being dragged across the plaza below by a green warrior. A dozen red warriors are also pursuing the abductor. When the woman looks up, Carthoris sees it is Thuvia. Thuvia is confused, having been captured by men who wore the trappings of Dusar, but who in the morning wear the metal of Helium. They take her to a deserted city, and when the arrival of Carthoris is expected, she is forced to stand alone in the open plaza. Two of her abductors reveal that Thuvia is the bait to get Carthoris to land when he arrives. Unexpectedly, Thuvia sees something move in the night. Thar Ban, jed among the hordes of Torquas, is returning from a raid that despoiled the incubator of a neighboring green horde. He decides to let his thoat graze on the ochre moss that grows taller within the courtyards of deserted cities. He comes to Aaanthor and sees Thuvia. Thar Ban shoots three of the red men with his radium rifle and rides down the black canyon of the Avenue of Quays with his prize. Carthoris must battle the three remaining men. He kills two of them, but one escapes. Carthoris jumps into his flier to pursue Thuvia and Thar Ban, but a lucky shot by the red warrior punctures one of the buoyancy tanks of his ship. He can only follow slowly northwest. When the ship finally gives out, he follows on foot into the granite mountains of Torquas. After a day of travel without spotting them, he spies a hunting banth near sundown. Thinking it might lead him to Thuvia, he watches the lion-like creature until it disappears in a cave in the ground. Carthoris follows.

After a time Carthoris hears a banth following him as he follows the banth through the darkness. With dexterous swordsmanship, he blinds the beast then follows it into an open hollow surrounded by cliffs. Here he sees another banth feeding on Thar Ban's thoat. This banth and the blinded one kill each other. Carthoris finds Thuvia's bloodied hair ornament. After much fruitless searching, the sound of squealing thoats leads him to a walled city encircled by green hordes. At sunrise the green men begin shooting at the city. Carthoris watches until near sunset he sees Thuvia being presented to Hortan Gur, Jeddak of Torquas. When Hortan Gur strikes Thuvia, Carthoris leaps into their midst. He remains unnoticed because at the same moment a large battalion of tall bowmen accompanied by banths charges from the city. A few green men block Carthoris's route to Thuvia, while most of the panicked horde turns to face the bowmen and banths. Carthoris pricks Hortan Gur before the green jeddak enters the melee, leaving Thuvia with Carthoris. Carthoris marvels at the seemingly endless numbers of the bowmen, the awesome efficacy of their arrows, and the entire disappearance of any dead or wounded. Meanwhile, Thuvia accuses Carthoris of orchestrating her abduction.

Thuvia assures Carthoris that they need not fear the roaming banths while seeking entrance to the city. When they are threatened by banths Thuvia controls them through her singing voice. Carthoris is surprised to note that the green bodies that they passed bore no arrows. At the city gate a fair-skinned, auburn-haired man questions them, ignorant of Helium and Ptarth and of any races beyond their own and the green men. Admitting them into the city of Lothar, he takes them to Tario, Jeddak of Lothar. En route the man says that no man has left the city that day and shows them that the soldiers were figments. Carthoris also notes that there are no guards and few people, but suddenly the streets are filled around them. Before the jeddak their guide, Jav, prostrates himself and approaches the throne like a dog. Carthoris and Thuvia stand and stare. Jav, on seeing their defiance turns on them.

When Carthoris reaches for his sword in defense, Jav stops and a score of bowmen materialize around them. Carthoris swings his sword through empty air. Tario, on seeing Thuvia, commanded the hostilities to cease and the bowmen disappeared. After brief discussion, Tario calls them both "lies" because there are no women or other races or cities upon Barsoom, he claims. Carthoris is taken away while Thuvia remains with Tario to see if she is really a "lie." She considers Carthoris's departure a cowardly abandonment of her, which irks Carthoris. Jav and Carthoris discuss the nature of the bowmen, which are created through the power of mental projection, as are some of the banths loosed upon the green men. Jav reveals a philosophical split between the "realists" and the "etherialists." The latter, including Tario, believe that "there is no such thing as matter -- only mind." The two groups argue over the necessity of imagining eating food. Komal, who is "the essence of the All" feeds on the realists. The Lotharians have no women, those having died ages before the "Great Truth," that "mind is all," was revealed. Jav refuses to allow Carthoris to return to take food to Thuvia, but at the sound of her cry, Carthoris sweeps Jav aside and leaves the room.

Tario watches Thuvia intently, and then asks what kind of creature she is. Tario accuses Thuvia of being Jav's creation, designed to destroy Tario. Annoyed, Thuvia responds haughtily that her charms are not for Tario. Thuvia is certain that Tario is mad, and reaches for her dagger. Tario focuses his eyes on Thuvia, and she begins to see him as a trusted friend. Tario smiles when he sees his success. That smile is enough. Recognizing that she had been hypnotized, she backs away. Tario pursues her, offers to make her queen of Lothar. She refuses, and Tario seizes her. Thuvia stabs him, and he falls to the floor. Carthoris bounds into the room. Thuvia recognizes that Carthoris loves her, and that he is a splendid warrior, but she is promised to Kulan Tith, so she tempers her enthusiasm. Jav enters. Seeing Tario on the floor, he declares that now he, Jav, will be Jeddak. Tario stands up and screams "traitor!" Carthoris slaps him, and Tario escapes through a doorway behind the throne. The doors to the throne room are all locked. Jav, depressed, tells them that they are going to die "the Death." After several hours, the floor begins to sink, and form a cone, and the three of them slip through the opening. Carthoris holds Thuvia, and whispers "Courage, my princess."

The three fall into a room below the throne. Jav is white with fear, explaining that they are going to be devoured by Komal. The largest banth either had ever seen appears. Thuvia speaks to Komal with authority. The banth stops growling and begins purring. Jav is reluctant to accept that his god is simply a large banth. They follow a passage. Komal follows. The city is deserted. Jav creates the city in all of its original glory, filled with multitudes of happy people. Carthoris explains to Thuvia that the bowmen are nothing but mental suggestions and cannot harm her if she understands that they are unreal. Tario's bowmen appear, and Carthoris tells Jav to send his bowmen against Tario's. While the bowmen fight, Carthoris tells Thuvia that the two of them should escape to the nearby forest. Jav focuses on Carthoris. Thuvia holds her hand out to Carthoris, and they go into the forest. Meanwhile, Thuvia hears Carthoris tell her to stay with Jav. A few hours later Jav explains to Thuvia that the warriors are real enough as long as he creates them, and that some day the Lotharians hope that a warrior will become real and endure. Jav tells Thuvia that Carthoris has abandoned her, and begins to force his attentions on her. She struggles. A low growl rumbles from nearby.

Carthoris walks into the forest with Thuvia. When night falls Carthoris tries to speak to her. She fades. Carthoris instantly realizes Jav's deception. He races back to where he left Thuvia. He finds the deserted plain, and stumbles on the dying Jav. Jav tells Carthoris that Komal, the banth, attacked him, and Thuvia and Komal left together towards the passage through the cliffs. Carthoris races to catch them. Meanwhile, a battle force of Ptarth and a second armada from Dusar sails toward an unsuspecting Helium. Even people of Helium suspected that Carthoris might have kidnapped the princess. Carthoris comes upon a Lotharian who calls himself Kar Komak, odwar of the bowmen, a being materialized by Tario who remained after all the other bowmen dematerialized. The two decide to go together to find Thuvia. Three days later, within sight of Aaanthor, Carthoris sees Thuvia and Komal far ahead. Thuvia sees him, but points at a horde of Torquasian green warriors coming towards her. Carthoris races for her. Then Carthoris sees two war craft from Astok, prince of Dusar, flying toward her. Carthoris gets to her side, calls her "my princess," and a moment later the green men attack, and then the warriors of Dusar arrive. A major battle erupts.

Carthoris is struck in the head, feels the lips of Thuvia pressed against his, and then loses consciousness. When he awakes he is covered by the carcass of a banth. Thuvia and Kar Komak are gone, and bodies lie everywhere. Weak and thirsty, he heads into Aaanthor for water. After he finds water, a dozen Torquasian warriors leap on him. He is chained in the pits. In the darkness white apes snap his chains and drag him off. When he can see clearly, he recognizes Kar Komak, who is also a captive. Kar Komak tells Carthoris that the warriors of Dusar took Thuvia, and that he was captured by green men, but then dragged away by apes. A great ape arrives with a cudgel. Kar Komak materializes a utan of archers. The apes fight, and Carthoris and Kar Komak escape. Carthoris blunders through a room filled with Torquasian warriors. He escapes to where thoats are kept, and manages to bring two back to where Kar Komak hides. They leave Aaanthor and make their way to one of the long Barsoomian waterways. They leave their thoats behind, strip away all identification, and find a farm and a noble in the retinue of Astok of Dusar. The two are mistaken for panthans, and the Dusarian nobleman says he is recruiting fighting men for the new war against Helium.

Komal ignores Thuvia and attacks Jav. Thuvia prevents a kill and, protected by the banth, thinks of Carthoris and her betrothed, Kulan Tith. She finds the tunnel entrance near dark, exiting to the hills beyond. Worried about Carthoris' whereabouts, she heads toward Aaanthor. Later, Carthoris is struck down and Thuvia despairs. Komal dead, the Dusarian warriors take her as the green men battle. Escaping the conflict by flier, Thuvia recognizes Astok as the airships travel to Dusar, and she realizes Carthoris had nothing to do with her abduction. Astok voices his intention to have Thuvia, despite her protests. Arriving at Dusar, Astok hides Thuvia in the east tower of his palace. Deviously, Astok offers to capture Thuvia for his father. Nutus is not convinced, unless they had the girl and disposed of her to protect the interests of Dusar. Astok shudders as his father's suggestion of murdering a woman. Astok withdraws, knowing that only he can accomplish what his father has suggested. Going to Thuvia's prison, Astok once more implores the girl to accept him. She refuses. Astok leaves. Later he speaks with an officer regarding Vas Kor. Astok soon travels to the south to find Hal Vas, son of Vas Kor.

Carthoris listens as Hal Vas reveals the state of war between Helium and Dusar. As a panthan he could not depart without raising suspicion. When Vas Kor arrives, and Hal Vas makes introductions, Carthoris takes the identity of "Turjun". Carthoris recognizes Vas Kor as the traitorous "servant" on the landing stage at Ptarth. Kar Komak is introduced as a thern. After the interview Vas Kor says they will depart for Dusar in the morning. Carthoris, on watch, stays his hand when Vas Kor returns after midnight. Later a ship approaches, the Thuria. Landing, Astok descends from the Thuria. Astok speaks privately to Vas Kor saying, "I am to kill her." Carthoris overhears. Vas Kor agrees to leave his ship and return with Astok on the Thuria. Carthoris struggles with the knowledge he has gained, but before he can kill these two, Kar Komak is selected to augment the crew of the Thuria. Carthoris boldly follows and boards the ship. Kar Komak does not comment on Carthoris's presence. Soon they learn of a naval battle between the forces of Dusar, Ptarth, and Kaol against Helium's fleet. The Thuria lands at the Dusarian palace of Astok. Carthoris determines Kar Komak's allegiance. Together they overpower a slave and descend into the palace via a lift.

Imprisoned, Thuvia languishes, all attempts to escape failing, thinks of Carthoris instead of her betrothed. In the corridor Astok and Vas Kor enter Thuvia's prison; the girl again refuses Astok, who commands Vas Kor to kill Thuvia. Carthoris enters and engages Vas Kor. Thuvia bolts the door at Carthoris's direction. Astok flees through a secret passage. Vas Kor dies on the Heliumite's blade. Astok barely eludes Kar Komak in the corridor. Carthoris and Thuvia exit the prison. Meeting Kar Komak, they continue pursuit of Astok. Carthoris and Kar Komak battle others at the landing stage. Taking the Thuria by force they depart. Patrol boats pursue. They escape. Later they observe a grounded airship under attack by green Martians. The Thuria attacks. Carthoris continues his rescue of the beleaguered ship even after he sees the device of Kulan Tith. The Thuria succumbs to deadly fire from the green men and lands nearby. Kar Komak reveals his expertise at mind control by creating a holographic army, which decimates the green horde. Kar Komak pursues the retreating green Martians. Thuvia stops Carthoris from following Kar Komak by declaring her love. Kulan Tith, from the rescued ship, overhears this declaration and releases Thuvia from the arranged marriage. He salutes them.


Major Characters[]

  • Carthoris: Son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris who inherits his father's superior strength and ability with a sword. A minor character in The Gods of Mars. A principal character in Thuvia, Maid of Mars and love interest of Thuvia.
  • Thuvia of Ptarth: A Princess of Ptarth. She first appears in The Gods of Mars, among a group of Red Martians rescued by John Carter from the nefarious Therns who maintain the illusion of the Martian "Heaven" in the Valley of Dor. She is later imprisoned with John Carter's wife Dejah Thoris, in a temple prison which can only be opened once per year and remains by her side for much of the novel and the sequel The Warlord of Mars. Like many of Burroughs Martian heroines, she is tough, courageous, proud and strongly identifies with her aristocratic position in Martian society. Also typically, she is abducted by evildoers (her rescue providing primary motivation for the plot of Thuvia, Maid of Mars) who wish to use her for political gain — in this case by Astok, Prince of Dasur, who blames the kidnapping on Cathoris.
  • Kar Komak: A Lotharian bowman, with a noble and chivalrous personality (unlike the majority of the remaining Lotharians). While initially one of the phantoms projected by the Lotharians to fight off the Green Martian attacks on Lothar, he assumes a corporeal form after Carthoris and Thuvia leave Lothar, and turns out to have been a real Lotharian from the distant past. He joins the pair, fighting in the battles that follow. He is also able to create his own phantom bowmen to assist in combat.