Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone (1995) – Max McCoy

Nicholas Flamel. The Philosopher’s Stone…. No, I’m not re-reading the Harry Potter books, at least not yet, I’m digging into the next Indiana Jones adventure. Coming two years before the first Harry Potter novel, Max McCoy’s first stab at an Indiana Jones story melds the legendary tomb of Hermes, and the enduring myth of alchemy, with the real historical personage and mysteries of Nicholas Flamel and the Voynich manuscript.

1933.

With this novel, McCoy continues the canon adventures of the famed archaeologist and with one novel, he shows one thing that the two previous authors missed. He gets it. He understands how the plot has to be paced, and his dialogue for Indy is the closest in the series of novels to date (though still not completely on point).

Teaching now at Princeton, he gets called in to answer some questions about the Voynich manuscript which leads to another adventure pitting himself against Italian fascists.

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This one is definitely more in line with what we expect form an Indiana Jones adventure, there is globe-trotting, fisticuffs, a lovely leading lady, history mixing with mythology, and a hint of the mystical which is right on the edge of explanation.

McCoy keeps the story moving, and has a nice way of telling the story. And we get to spend a moment or two with another regular from the Indiana Jones world, and it’s not a spoiler as he’s featured on the cover, Sallah! I though perhaps we would be meeting the character for the first time, and we would learn how their friendship developed, but they are already old friends at this point, so they met at some point in the undocumented past in a story we’ve yet to hear.

With the Italian fascists standing in as the villain, there are some great moments as Jones, once again, travels by zeppelin, although boarding this time is a little rougher than in previous adventures.

As a character, Indy, despite not all the dialogue feeling correct, is very recognizable as the character we know and love, and McCoy does a great job giving us exposition tying in the real history with mythology and the creative needs of the story. And most of it, this time, does not fall to Indy to do, and when he does, you can actually hear his voice doing it.

And while McCoy packs his tale with lots of action beats, fun, mythology and history, the book is fairly short. But that looks to be the trend for his novels, and I will happily dig into the next adventure, Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs in short order.

The Man with the Hat continues to entertain, and I love going on adventures with him…

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