Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part Three

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

251054_1020_afu-manchu-dsd-mask-mask-giveawaySax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy that made it into theaters later that same year.

The third part of the book sees Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, Sir Lionel Barton, and Shan Greville make their way to the Great Pyramid where Sir Lionel will hand over the relics of El Mokanna to Dr. Fu Manchu in exchange for the release of his niece, Rima, who is being held hostage. Sixty Egyptian police officers are employed to surround the Great Pyramid in an effort to bring Fu Manchu to justice and to aid the others in the event they are walking into a trap. Sir Denis insists that Petrie and Barton stay behind while he and Greville make their way to the King’s Chamber, the arranged meeting place.

Rohmer wrings every last bit of suspense from Smith and Greville’s descent into the King’s Chamber. Having actually made the journey himself prior to writing the book enabled him to perfectly capture the claustrophobic anxiety of his heroes’ predicament. Upon arriving in the King’s Chamber, they find Dr. Fu Manchu awaiting them. The fact that he handles the matter in person without any bodyguards emphasizes the new strength and confidence with which Rohmer has imbued the character now that he has at last perfected the elixir vitae.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part Two

Friday, September 21st, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

mask-of-fu-manchu1roh_fu5_djSax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version, starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy, that made it into theaters later that same year.

The second part of the book sees Sir Denis Nayland Smith of British Intelligence, the renowned archaeologist Sir Lionel Barton, his foreman (and the book’s narrator) Shan Greville, and the expedition’s photographer Rima Barton (Sir Lionel’s niece and Shan’s fiancée) make their way from Ispahan to Cairo, where they are reunited with Dr. Petrie, Sir Denis’s oldest friend (and the narrator of the first three books in the series). Believing that Dr. Fu Manchu is behind the El Mokanna uprising that has already spread to Egypt, Petrie is relieved that his wife is safely visiting her in-laws in Surrey at present and out of harm’s way.

While Petrie drives the group into town, an incident occurs where it appears Petrie has struck a pedestrian. An angry mob, resentful of the British colonialists, soon gathers. While Petrie examines the victim and concludes the man had been dead three hours before his corpse was pushed in front of Petrie’s car, Sir Lionel is nearly abducted. The aim of the accident was to get at the large trunk he carries with him, containing the relics of El Mokanna’s tomb from his recent excavation in Persia. The timely arrival of the colonial police is all that saves them from the enraged mob.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu – Part One

Friday, September 14th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

titan-maskoffumanchubenda2Sax Rohmer’s The Mask of Fu Manchu was originally serialized in Collier’s from May 7 to July 23, 1932. It was published in book form later that year by Doubleday in the US and the following year by Cassell in the UK. It became the most successful book in the series, thanks to MGM’s cult classic film version, starring Boris Karloff and Myrna Loy, that made it into theaters later that same year. Paramount’s option on the character had been exhausted after three pictures and one short starring Warner Oland as the Devil Doctor. The Paramount series had been responsible for Rohmer’s decision to revive the character with Daughter of Fu Manchu. The Mask of Fu Manchu served as a direct sequel and was again narrated by Shan Greville.

The novel gets underway with the brash Sir Lionel Barton having recently joined a colleague, Dr. Van Berg, in completing an excavation of the tomb of the notorious heretical Masked Prophet of Islam, El Mokanna, in Persia. Shan Greville, Sir Lionel’s foreman, is awakened in the middle of the night by his fiancée Rima Barton, Sir Lionel’s niece, who was disturbed by a strange wailing. Upon investigating, Dr. Van Berg is found dead in his room, his corpse slung over the jade chest containing the artifacts from the dig. The artifacts, still intact, are El Mokanna’s gold mask that hid his disfigured features, his heretical New Creed of Islam carved on gold tablets, and the bejeweled Sword of God with which the messianic prophet planned to conquer the world.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu, Part Four

Friday, August 31st, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

daughteroffumanchu3daughter20of20fu20manchu42Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu was originally serialized as Fu Manchu’s Daughter in twelve weekly installments of Collier’s from March 8 to May 24, 1930. It was published in book form the following year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. Rohmer divides the novel into four sections, comprising three chapters each. This week, we examine the fourth and final installment.

The novel’s finale gets underway at a breakneck pace. Sir Lionel Barton has retreated to Abbots Hold, his estate in the English countryside. Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Police Superintendant Weymouth are there to oversee Sir Lionel’s safety as well as that of his right hand man, Shan Greville, and Sir Lionel’s niece (and Greville’s fiancée), Rima. Dr. Petrie and his wife, Kara are delayed while both Shan and Rima are ill-at-ease locked up in Sir Lionel’s ancient and mysterious home with his requisite menagerie of exotic wildlife (including his pet cheetah).

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu, Part Three

Friday, August 24th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

roh_fu4_dj1saxrohmersigned-761x10231Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu was originally serialized as Fu Manchu’s Daughter in twelve weekly installments of Collier’s from March 8 to May 24, 1930. It was published in book form the following year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. Rohmer divides the novel into four sections comprising three chapters each. This week we examine the third part.

The section begins with Shan Greville’s delirious account of his and Sir Denis Nayland Smith’s foolhardy infiltration of a meeting of the Si-Fan’s Council of Seven while disguised as Mongolian monks. Sir Denis recognizes Ki-Ming among the attendees and fears the mandarin will likewise remember him if he gets a good look at his features beneath the monk’s cowl. Greville sees Madame Ingomar enter the room and recalls her true identity as Fah lo Suee, the daughter of Fu Manchu. Unable to understand the council’s conversation, the truth promptly reaches him when a gong sounds and the two Mongolian monks appear while all eyes turn upon Sir Denis and his companion.

 

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William Patrick Maynard’s The Terror of Fu Manchu

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

the-terror-of-fu-manchu2The Terror of Fu Manchu
William Patrick Maynard
Black Coat Press (248 pp, $20.95 in paperback, $6.99 eBook, April 2009)
Reviewed by Joe Bonadonna

Usually I don’t read stories and novels based on a character created by one author and then later written by another—not if I have already read the original author’s work. Back in the day, I read all the pastiches: Conan, Red Sonja, Bran Mak Morn, Cormac, Kull, Black Vulmea… and have enjoyed many of them. I’m even friends with a few of the writers (and a collaborator with one) who were lucky enough to have been chosen to carry on with Robert E. Howard’s characters. But nowadays there are just too many new characters, too many new stories and novels to read, and time and money seem to be in limited supply the older I get.

All that being said, let me tell you a little bit about William Patrick Maynard’s wonderful novel based on Sax Rohmer’s immortal character, The Terror of Fu Manchu, which was published in 2009 in a beautiful edition by Black Coat Press. I had already heard many great things about Maynard’s novel and was familiar with his writing from the stories he published through Airship27 Productions.

So I decided to read this novel and man, I’m glad that I did. It opened up a whole new world for me, and as a fellow writer, it taught me a few things, too.

Now, I have never read any of Rohmer’s original novels, though of course I’m very familiar with Fu Manchu by way of the Boris Karloff, Warner Oland, and Christopher Lee films. So I did a little digging around and sampled enough chapters of several of Sax Rohmer’s novels in order to familiarize myself with his writing, and to see how well Maynard’s style captures the essence of his work.

Doing that also added to my enjoyment as I immersed myself in Maynard’s version of the Chinese mastermind and one of literature’s greatest villains. However, this being the 21st century and not the early part of the 20th, I thought some of Rohmer’s writing to be a bit old-fashioned and a little slower-paced than we are accustomed to in this fast-moving age of cell phones, CGI, and all things high-tech. But Maynard breathes new life and a touch of modern sensibility in his novel, while remaining faithful to Rohmer’s original vision.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu, Part Two

Friday, August 17th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

19560181_1daughterpinkSax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu was originally serialized as Fu Manchu’s Daughter in twelve weekly installments of Collier’s from March 8 to May 24, 1930. It was published in book form the following year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. Rohmer divides the novel into four sections comprising three chapters each. This week we examine the second part.

Rohmer slows his pace to take time to develop the character of Rima Barton at the outset of the second part. The reader begins to understand her as one of Rohmer’s typically strong female characters in contrast with the shrinking violets one is accustomed to in fiction of the day. The strained relationship between Rima and Shan Greville is revealed to be rooted in jealousy over his attraction to Madame Ingomar, the exotic foreign woman who had likewise stirred Sir Lionel’s passions.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu

Friday, August 10th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

fumandausaxrohmersigned-761x1023Sax Rohmer’s Daughter of Fu Manchu was originally serialized as Fu Manchu’s Daughter in twelve weekly installments of Collier’s from March 8 to May 24, 1930. It was published in book form the following year by Cassell in the UK and Doubleday in the US. Rohmer divides the novel into four sections comprising three chapters each. This week we examine the first part.

It had been over a dozen years since Rohmer had finished the Fu Manchu series. Since that time, both The Yellow Claw (1915) and his three Fu Manchu titles had been filmed by Stoll. In the late 1920s, with the advent of sound, Paramount announced a new series of Fu Manchu films starring Warner Oland as the Devil Doctor. Collier’s was eager to capitalize on the character’s renewed popularity and the author signed a contract to revive the series.

His first attempt was to write a contemporary thriller involving American protagonists opposing a self-styled Emperor of Crime, to be revealed at the story’s conclusion as Fu Manchu’s daughter. After several installments of the serialized adventure for Collier’s, Rohmer’s editor determined that the author had failed to capture the flavor of the original series and both parties reluctantly agreed to let him alter the story’s conclusion to remove all trace of Fu Manchu. The delayed serial, The Emperor of America resumed after a hiatus of several months in 1928 and was published in book form the following year. A minor work, it is most notable for serving as the template for the Sumuru series, another ersatz Fu Manchu, many years later.

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Re-Discovering Sax Rohmer

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

rohmer-the-green-spiderrohmer-the-leopard-couchRegular readers of my articles will be aware of my fascination with the works of British thriller writer, Sax Rohmer. Along with penning several series of articles, I was fortunate enough to be authorized by Rohmer’s estate to write two new Fu Manchu thrillers for Black Coat Press in an effort to bring new readers to the originals. For several decades, Rohmer’s work has been largely out of print and much of it has fallen into obscurity. Happily, this has recently started to change.

Last year, Titan Books licensed Rohmer’s catalog and began an ambitious reprint series at the start of this year, beginning with Rohmer’s fourteen Fu Manchu titles. All of the books are being printed in affordable trade paperback editions. The first three titles are available at present and the next two may be pre-ordered from Amazon. These attractive uniform editions recall the lurid retro cover art on Penguin’s recent trade paperback editions of Ian Fleming’s fourteen James Bond thrillers.

Of course, while the Devil Doctor may have been Rohmer’s most famous work, it doesn’t even come close to scraping the surface of this prolific author’s voluminous output. While Titan is committed to bringing his many novels back into print, Rohmer has several dozen uncollected stories that were published exclusively in magazines and newspapers in the first half of the last century. Tom Roberts’ Black Dog Books have made an indelible mark by launching their Sax Rohmer Library series. Rohmer scholar Gene Christie has begun compiling several collections of rare early material, much of which is otherwise unavailable and would have likely remained lost without his efforts.

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William Patrick Maynard’s The Terror of Fu Manchu

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

the-terror-of-fu-manchu2We’re a talented group here at Black Gate. Every time I drop a pencil someone on staff publishes a book. Last week I spilled a pencil case, and Scott Taylor announced a nine-volume fantasy series.

I was especially pleased to get my hands on the first novel by Friday blogger William Patrick Maynard, The Terror of Fu Manchu, published in 2009 by Black Coat Press. Bill was authorized to continue Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu thrillers and the second volume, The Destiny of Fu Manchu has just appeared, also from Black Coat Press.

I met Bill for the first time at the Windy City Pulp and Paper show two weeks ago here in Chicago, and found him to be an intelligent and entertaining conversationalist. I was fortunate to have the chance to ask him about his novels, and I was treated to an enthusiastic and fascinating lecture on the Boxer Rebellion, the psychology of Yellow Peril novels, and the uniquely global evil of Fu Manchu.

It was one of those moments when you wish you had a recorder. After listening to Bill I was more intrigued than ever to read his novels, and I wished I had a way to share his infectious enthusiasm with our readers.

Eventually I asked Bill to recreate what he told me as best he could in an e-mail message, to post here.

He graciously complied, and here’s what he sent me.

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