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The White Martians are an ancient and mysterious race that governed the planet over 500,000 years ago when Mars was still lush and plentiful. However, when the oceans were drying up up, their seafaring race fell apart and the White Martians went extinct, with their far more adaptable descendants, the Red Martians taking their place as the most predominant people in the planet.
A few vestiges still survived as a new race thrived, one such was the Holy Therns, an off-shot descended from the ancient White Martians that settled on Valley Dor, the mythical paradise in Barsoom's mythology. The Therns held themselves above the other peoples from Barsoom, claiming to be a race of demigods and messengers of Issus, the Goddess of Life and Death. They managed to amass power over the centuries through promotion of their cult that became the primary religion on the planet, dictating that the way through paradise was through a pilgrimage to Valley Dor.
For centuries, Martians of all colors headed down into the valley, only to find a land heavily populated by white apes and plant men, whom the Therns had trained to attack the unwitting pilgrims. Having lured countless unsuspecting Martians to their deaths, their own civilization thrived except for occasional raids by their hated enemies, the Black Pirates of Thuria. These raids always ended in the kidnapping of both white and red women, but the therns dared not fight back; their first and only attempt to attack their enemies resulted in a brutal reprisal.
Like countless Thern damsels before her, Phaidor was kidnapped by the First-Born pirates in Valley Dor's gardens, around the time John Carter returned to Barsoom after his mysterious disappearance a decade ago, he was transported into their domain.
Carter attempted to free the girl, but he ended up being captured himself. While in captivity, Phaidor started to develop romantic feelings for him because of his fighting tenacity and trying to save her, but when hearing that he is already married to Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, she becomes completely outraged and vows to kill his wife and torment him before ending his life. They were forced to stand before the goddess Issus, who turns out to be a ancient Black Martian crone that rules over their enemies and picked Phaidor as her handmaiden.
Phaidor is later thrown inside the Temple of the Sun along with Carter's wife Dejah and another female Red Martian named Thuvia on Issus' orders, because all three women were in love with him. Trapped inside the temple, Phaidor and the other two women were sentenced to a slow and painful death by starvation. After realizing that he would never abandon his beloved, Phaidor pulls out a knife and tries to murder Dejah before Carter's eyes just as the door closed on him. However, Thuvia managed to successfully disarm the jealous White Martian and subdue her.
The three women would have likely starve to death inside the Temple if it was not for a plan devised by Phaidor's father Matai Shang, who conspired with Thurid to find a secret location to release the three women. While Shang made prisoners out of the two Red Martians, Phaidor was free again and stood by her father's side as John Carter pursued him across the planet seeking to release his wife and the girl. After he succeeded in beating all his allies and having the two villains cornered, Thurid turned on Shang and murdered him before Phaidor's eyes. She avenged her father shortly after and saved Carter and Dejah. Now realizing the error of her ways, she commits suicide to atone for her sins before the horrified couple.
Phaidor believed that the White Martians were the true masters of the planet as they were closer to Issus' than anyone else. The Red and Green peoples were thought to be nothing more than cattle and slaves to their kind. Despite the cruelty of her people, she doesn't necessarily view it this way believing that being in service to the White Martians as well as providing nourishment to them is a enormous honor. The revelation that her faith is a lie created by their enemies that have exploited them for ages breaks her however. She falls in love with John Carter and desires him for herself. After learning that he already has a wife, Phaidor becomes murderously jealous and attempts to have her killed while in prison.
Phaidor was a young female Thern, a race that closely resembled Caucasian humans with blonde hair and blue eyes. In the books, she is described as being much younger than Carter, possibly being a teenager and divinely beautiful. Although Therns are said to wear long concealing robes, she is depicted wearing gold ornaments like other female Martians in the story. It should be noted that Therns are all said to be entirely hairless bald and wear wigs to hide their heads because its believed to be extremely disgraceful to be seen bald. The comics' version sticks to this, although, its implied her hair is real since she sports blonde eyebrows.
- At first glance her people's beliefs are similar to the Nazis, both professing that blonde-haired, fair-skinned and blue eyed people are superior to other races. However, this completely accidental, as the Therns were created over a decade before the Nazi Party's formation.
- They are also similar to DC Comics' White Martians, likely serving as inspiration.