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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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Hand of Fu Manchu, Part Nine – “The Black Chapel”

Friday, January 6th, 2012 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

hand-pyramidhand-titan“The Black Chapel” was the ninth and final installment of Sax Rohmer’s The Si-Fan Mysteries. The story was first published in Collier’s on June 2, 1917 and was later expanded to comprise Chapters 34 – 40 of the third Fu-Manchu novel, The Si-Fan Mysteries first published in 1917 by Cassell in the UK and by McBride & Nast in the US under the variant title, The Hand of Fu Manchu. The US book title marks the first time that the hyphen was dropped from the character’s name, although it was retained within the text.

“The Black Chapel” sees Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie, and Petrie’s fiancée, Karamaneh (recently liberated from the Si-Fan’s slavery ring) paying a visit to Greywater Park, the ancestral estate that their old friend, Sir Lionel Barton has recently inherited. Rohmer seems determined to shape Greywater Park in the image of Redmoat, the medieval stronghold where Reverend J. D. Eltham (the veteran of the Boxer Uprising who figured in the first two books in the series) resided. As in his appearance in the first book, Sir Lionel is a brilliant, but eccentric Egyptologist based in part on both the real-life Sir Richard Burton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger. The character’s larger than life qualities are best exemplified by his menagerie of wild cats and other exotic animals that fill his home alongside his equally exotic foreign servants. Upon their arrival, it is learned that Sir Lionel has fallen ill and is unable to meet with them until the morning. The trio settle in for a strange night in Sir Lionel’s highly unorthodox home when they are disturbed by an inexplicable knocking and a ghostly wailing just as Smith has finished relating Greywater Park’s colorful past in housing a Spanish priest who fled the Inquisition centuries before.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Hand of Fu Manchu, Part Eight – “The Shrine of the Seven Lamps”

Friday, December 30th, 2011 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

sifanmys2hand-original3“The Shrine of the Seven Lamps” was the eighth installment of Sax Rohmer’s The Si-Fan Mysteries. The story was first published in Collier’s on April 21, 1917 and was later expanded to comprise Chapters 30 – 33 of the third Fu-Manchu novel, The Si-Fan Mysteries first published in 1917 by Cassell in the UK and by McBride & Nast in the US under the variant title, The Hand of Fu Manchu. The US book title marks the first time that the hyphen was dropped from the character’s name, although it was retained within the text.

“The Shrine of the Seven Lamps” picks up the story five months after the events related in the previous installments. This narrative gap proved fortuitous for those who have helped to keep the characters alive after Sax Rohmer’s passing by affording continuation authors an opportunity to craft additional titles set during the classic early years of the series. Dr. Petrie begins the account having concluded settling the estate of a recently-deceased relative. Petrie is returning to London by rail and happens to share a berth with a beautiful and mysterious Eurasian girl. Everything about his silent traveling companion – her eyes, her skin, her perfume – leave Petrie intoxicated. Tellingly, the woman’s beauty and unique eyes evoke memories of both Petrie’s beloved Karamaneh and the insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu. The overpowering mental force Petrie feels invading his mind and fighting to master his will likewise recalls the Devil Doctor. While Petrie feels an understandable sense of relief when this fascinating woman departs the train with her silent and menacing African servants, the reader is positive that Petrie has not seen the last of her.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Hand of Fu Manchu, Part Seven – “Ki-Ming”

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

hand-pyramid4hand-original2“Ki-Ming” was the seventh installment of Sax Rohmer’s The Si-Fan Mysteries. The story was first published in Collier’s on March 3, 1917 and was later expanded to comprise Chapters 27 – 29 of the third Fu-Manchu novel, The Si-Fan Mysteries first published in 1917 by Cassell in the UK and by McBride & Nast in the US under the variant title, The Hand of Fu Manchu. The US book title marks the first time that the hyphen was dropped from the character’s name, although it was retained within the text.

“Ki-Ming” starts off with Dr. Petrie burning the midnight oil one night working on his account of his and Nayland Smith’s recent exploits which he has entitled, The Si-Fan Mysteries. Petrie notes that Smith has gone to the theater for the night with visiting friends from Burma. Like Poe’s anonymous narrator of “The Raven,” Petrie is disturbed by a repeated tapping at his window for which he fails to discover the origin. Throwing the window open, Petrie peers down into the street and hears the tapping now coming from the front door. Rushing downstairs without puzzling over why his late visitor has not rung the doorbell, he stops to arm himself. He throws open the door and steps into a trap as a pair of dacoits lie concealed on either side of the door and a third (having entered through the open upstairs window) has followed him downstairs. Petrie is quickly bound and a bag filled with hashish is tied over his head.

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Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Hand of Fu Manchu, Part Six – “The House of Hashish”

Friday, December 16th, 2011 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard

hand-original1sifanmys“The House of Hashish” was the sixth installment of Sax Rohmer’s The Si-Fan Mysteries. The story was first published in Collier’s on February 17, 1917 and was later expanded to comprise Chapters 22 – 26 of the third Fu-Manchu novel, The Si-Fan Mysteries first published in 1917 by Cassell in the UK and by McBride & Nast in the US under the variant title, The Hand of Fu Manchu. The US book title marks the first time that the hyphen was dropped from the character’s name, although it was retained within the text.

“The House of Hashish” starts off with a wonderfully atmospheric opening with Dr. Petrie keeping a lonely nighttime vigil in the now abandoned shadow-filled wharf-side Joy Shop with only the sound of lapping waves and the incessant squealing of rats to accompany him. From a window, he watches Nayland Smith approach an old beggar woman and overhears their conversation. The old woman claims to have twisted her ankle and begs Smith to help her to the rooms she keeps in a wharf-side warehouse. Smith obliges and, of course, walks into a ruse as a dacoit leaps upon his back and quickly wraps a cord around his neck and begins strangling him. Fearing he is witnessing his friend’s death and helpless to stop him, Petrie is flabbergasted to see Smith’s apparent twin arrive to the rescue. Smith’s double beats off the dacoit and hurls the man into the Thames.

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