By the time Frank Thorne created Ghita of Alizarr, he had produced seventeen Red Sonja books, and frankly admitted an infatuation with the character. In the 1978 afterword of The Art of Frank Thorne, he wrote, ‘To cast Red Sonja aside as a sexual dream of adolescence is missing the thrust of this mythic figure. Granted, Sonja is that dream, but beyond lie the Himalayas. True, amongst those peaks roams this magnificent, near-naked woman. The child’s infatuation with nudity is there, combined with the mature wisdom of combat. Venus with a sword, stalking through the once and future kingdom. She is formed energy; she is the sound that Siegfried harkened to. Red Sonja represents the total possibilities in all of us.’

But Roy Thomas, who edited the Sonja books, thought the character was too stereotyped, too baby-doll, so Thorne was edged off the infatuation and towards the more rounded character of Ghita.

In many ways Ghita is the spitting image of Red Sonja. She looks like Sonja, but we see more of her – she has discarded the tin bikini, and although she wears an occasional piece of armour she is mostly naked.

When we first meet Ghita, King Khalia’s favourite whore, she is lounging naked in the royal bedchamber with an old friend and fellow thief, Thenef, a would-be wizard whose slight-of-hand and mumbo-jumbo have earned him a place as the court mage. When Kahlia is mortally wounded in battle against the invading trolls, he gets the idea that the kingdom of Alizarr can be saved by reincarnating Khan-Dagon, the fearsome warrior-king, whose remains are mummified in the catacombs under the palace. Khalia introduces Ghita and Thenef to Khan-Dagon’s corpse, commanding Thenef to bring him back to life.

After an extended series of adventures, Ghita chances upon Khan-Dagon’s sword and recognises its phallic character, ‘eternally erect, forever hard’. ‘I will make love to it,’ she announces. Following this extraordinary feat Ghita is transformed. Inseminated with the phallic conquering spirit of the warrior-king, she is no longer the fleeing courtesan – she is now a blood-thirsty swordswoman, bent on battling the invading trolls and liberating Alizarr.

Ghita was first published in two volumes, Ghita of Alizarr and The Thousand Wizards of Urd, and then by Eros Comix in a single volume.