I jump back into adventure with the man with the hat, as my travels with Indiana Jones continue in the officially licensed (and therefore canon until films prove them otherwise) series of novels that fill in the time between Hollywood Follies (The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones) to The Temple of Doom.
Tying in with the previous novel, Peril at Delphi, the novel reveals that Indy has completed his education at Sorbonne in Paris, and is taking up his first teaching position in London.
There he is enchanted by one of his students (they are of an age so it’s not creepy), Dierdre Campbell. When he is invited to join an expedition led by his boss, and Dierdre’s mother, Joanna to Scotland to excavate a cave that was rumored to be Merlin’s final resting pace, he is drawn into an adventure that combines mythology and history.
Seeking a gold scroll mentioned in a monk’s letter that they hope they will find in the cave, Arthurian legend and Greek mythology combine even as druids, led by a member of Parliament (with a connection to Dierdre) seek the scroll, and the Omphalos stone Indy recovered in the previous novel.
All of this leads to a final showdown at Stonehenge during an eclipse which may cost Indy and his friends, their lives.
The book doesn’t have all the globe-trotting that seems part and parcel for the films, and it seems to embrace some of the mysticism of the Arthur legend, specifically Merlin, as well as tying in with his spirit animal, which we learned about in the previous novel.
He’s not quite the character we know and love yet, and the action beats in this book are smaller than any featured in the films, but he is recognizably on his way to that character.
I do like that there is a sense of continuity in the novels, not only with what we know is coming, but with characters, Marcus Brody has been mentioned, his friend Jack Shannon, introduced in the first book is in this one as well, and I do like that there is continuation from one novel to the next.
While there are times when MacGregor doesn’t have the strongest handle on the character, we have to remember that these early books take place years before he goes to recover the Sankara stones, so a little leeway needs to be given. He is very much a version of the man he will become, and the adventures do combine things that we often see in the films, the historical with the mythological.
In the end, as much as I liked this adventure, Delphi was a stronger entry, and I hope his MacGregor’s next one steps it up a bit, the climax is very anti-climatic, and the spirit animal thing needs to be dropped.
Beyond that it is a lot of fun to be spending time with my favorite character. And I have a bunch more books to get through!
And remember, if adventure has a name, it has to be… Indiana Jones!