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In his final adventure on Mars, Eric John Stark acquires a relic of an ancient Martian hero, a gem or lens which is believed to be the key to the strength of Kushat, the city that guards the Gates of Death in the frozen north. A brief inspection of the artifact plunges Stark into the mind of its creator, where he sees, through those long-dead eyes, the unutterably ancient, beautiful, and evil Martian race who are imprisoned in the ice beyond the Gates of Death, alive and plotting to reclaim Mars for themselves and to extend the ice, their world, around the whole planet. Falling into the hands of roving outlaws, Stark survives torture and overcomes his cruel torturer, thereby winning the respect of the leader, who wears black clothing and a fearful mask. After a daring escape, Stark makes his way to Kushat, with the double intent of restoring the artifact and warning the city that the outlaw band intends to attack it. He finds both tasks difficult but at length succeeds in persuading the city officials of the danger. The battle which ensues costs both sides dearly, and it also precipitates the main action of the novel, for a citizen flees the falling city intent upon opening the Gates of Death in the hope that whatever lies beyond will overwhelm the invaders. Stark pursues him, still carrying the ancient amulet, and is himself pursued by the now unmasked, black-clad leader of the outlaw band. Finally three antagonists find themselves bound together in a struggle with the ancients for possession of the planet Mars. (This story was later expanded in book form under the title People of the Talisman 1964.) - Summary by T. A. Copeland