Indiana Jones and the White Witch (1994) – Martin Caidin

London 1930

The adventures of Indiana Jones continue with Martin Caidin’s second novel featuring the heroic archaeologist. Coming on the tails of the previous book, Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates, this story shows that Caidin is more comfortable with the the set pieces that pop up in the iconic series, but it still seems a little unbalanced.

There are a number of flaws, even as the story gives us a bit of a glimpse at the Arthurian legend that doesn’t tie in with the Grail, first and foremost the idea that magic as a form of science actually exists as demonstrated by recurring character, introduced in the previous novel, Gale Parker, and new character Caitlin St. Brendan who lives in a glen that can only be found if the inhabitants want you to find them.

But someone has, the ill-conceived villain of the piece Cordas, has found a way into the village, and after a devastating assault has claimed a map with no names that could lead to a lost fortune in gold, and ancient Roman coins.

I say Cordas is ill-conceived because we don’t get a description, we don’t have a real confrontation with him, he comes across as a complete non-entity in this story.

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Indy, happily, isn’t just there for exposition this time around, though he does give plenty of it, and he Gale and Caitlin make a good team, as they set off across the globe in pursuit of the treasure, in the hopes of reaching it before Cordas.

The story boots along, but the climax is a bit of a let-down (and there’s a reveal that feels like a cheat, as it isn’t even hinted at), and there’s no real sense of wonder or sense of discovery when the treasure’s location and reality is unveiled.

None of the Indiana Jones novels seems to have mastered the sense of cliffhanger style of storytelling and this one is no different, there are a couple of nice sequences, the most iconic one is set aboard a zeppelin, which is well-crafted and makes for a nice set piece. Beyond that it ends up being Indy, Gale, and Caitlin trying to catch up with Cordas, and get a lead on the treasure.

Caidin tries to add as much historical detail to his story as possible, and that lends a nice reality to it, as well as a mention of his time in the Congo during the war, tying it in with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but the dialogue he has Indy spouting doesn’t sound like the character at all. You get to a point when you know a character so well that you can hear their voices in your head as you are writing or reading their dialogue. That hasn’t happened with any of the stories yet, but I’m going to keep travelling with the man in the hat, and I look forward to his next adventure…

Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone!

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