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(from Edgar Rice Burroughs website)

In her early twenties, anthropologist Gretchen von Harben journeyed to the inner world of Pellucidar on a secret expedition to deliver to Abner Perry a load of Harbenite, that rare, lightweight, ultra-strong metal discovered by her brother Erich in the Wiramwazi Mountains of Africa. After returning to the village of Sari following a wayward excursion to the land of the Voraki on another continent, Gretchen found she had fallen in love with the land of Pellucidar as much as she had with Nadok of the Voraki, and she decided to take up residence in the inner world with her new husband.

On the eve of a great battle against the intelligent, winged reptiles known as the Mahars and their simian Sagoth armies, during a major incursion on David Innes’ Empire of Pellucidar, Gretchen gave birth to her firstborn child with Nadok. Gretchen and Nadok named their daughter Victory, in the hope of triumph against the empire’s enemies and because of a strange dream-vision Gretchen had during childbirth of a barbaric queen of the same name. The name Victory, it turned out, was well chosen, for indeed the people of Sari and the united tribes of the empire overcame the Mahars and their fierce ape-men during the next morning’s battle.

From an early age, Victory displayed all the signs of bearing a remarkable intelligence. At five years old, she took a liking to Abner Perry, often much to her parents’ and the aged inventor’s dismay, for Abner frequently conducted dangerous experiments in his laboratory and little Victory refused to leave his side. When on three different occasions, however, the child’s cleverness and quick thinking saved the inventor’s life, both Victory’s parents and Abner decided it might be best to let the precocious prodigy have her way. Even so, Gretchen and Nadok asked Jason Gridley—inventor of the Gridley Wave and mastermind behind the O-220 vacuum airship that had traveled through the north polar opening to Pellucidar—to look after his goddaughter on the occasions when he visited Pellucidar. Before long, Victory began looking up to Jason, regarding him as both a mentor and an avuncular figure.

At age eight, Victory assisted Abner Perry in deciphering tablets recovered from the vast subterranean archives of the Mahar cities of Phutra and Kazra. Thus blossomed her interest in mathematics and theoretical physics, as she sought to understand the advanced theorems of the Mahars, who Abner claimed could project their thoughts into the fourth dimension. At age eleven, a fateful encounter with a Mahar queen in the depths of the underground city of Mintra steeled Victory’s determination to learn all she could in the fields of math and physics. Reluctantly, her parents bent to their daughter’s unyielding will, sending her to the outer world to further her education under the guardianship of the O-220’s skipper, Heinrich Hines, and his wife Anna.

Having spent her first eleven years in a savage inner world unknown to the inhabitants of the Earth’s surface, Victory faced many challenges adjusting to life as a high school student in Southern California. As World War II still raged on, she dropped the “von” from her surname to avoid suspicious glances. Even so, she could not avoid lingering stares, for she looked different from the other school children, bearing large, violet eyes and deep umber-hued skin that she had inherited from her Pellucidarian father. That she was also much smarter than the other kids her age, and worse, smarter than the adults, presented her with even more difficulties. Fortunately, her math teacher, Miss Mudina Macrae, recognized Victory’s talents and stepped in to encourage and support her.

When at last the war ended and Victory was able to test out of the twelfth grade at age fourteen, Miss Macrae hatched a plan to send the young prodigy to study at the university level in England. With a few strings pulled by Lord Greystoke and a little fibbing about her age, Victory Harben passed her Responsions in the summer of 1946 and entered the ranks of freshmen at the University of Oxford in the fall term. At Oxford, Victory excelled under the tutelage of Professor Aloysius P. Ralston of the Department of Theoretical Physics, where she served as his assistant and began advanced study in the field of quantum mechanics, driven to understand the mysteries of the universe after her encounter at the Mahar city of Mintra. Summers she spent at the Greystokes’ Chamston-Hedding estate, where she developed a close friendship with Jane Clayton and Tarzan tutored her in the arts of self-defense. After an intensive but rewarding three years at university, Victory passed her exams and graduated with honors.


  1. Victory Harben: Fires of Halos, Chapter 1: The Missing Link