Matai Shang was a Hekkador (leader) of the Holy Therns, the last man to serve in that role before John Carter exposed the cult as a fraud. After being exposed, he was forced into an alliance with Thurid, an ambitious Dator of the First Born who had also suffered misfortune at Carter's hands, and together they kidnapped Carter's beloved princess, Dejah Thoris, her companion Thuvia, and rescued Shang's daughter, Phaidor, taking them all the way to Kadabra in the far north, where the Jeddak Salensus Oll offered them safety from the Virginian's wrath.

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