Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi

Although the blog has been quiet for the better part of a week or so, that doesn't mean that I've disappeared by any means. I keep much of my personal life separate from this blog (on purpose, actually) but I do have a personal life and the last several days I have spent celebrating Christmas with my wife and kids and even with some of my friends, so needless to say I've been busy. Plus, in the wake of Christmas, there's always a ton of movies to see, board games to play and video games to try out.

However, the day before Christmas Eve, I finished Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi which I had been reading. It's a relatively slim book; just shy of 250 pages. It's also a prequel to the movies; in fact, it takes place mostly in 1922 when young Indy is a grad student studying in Paris along with a bunch of other American ex-pats who frequented that city following the Great War. I've always cynically wondered if part of the reason all those American expats were so fond of Paris was because an entire generation of French men their age were killed in the Great War, leaving lots of lonely French young women. Be that as it may, Indiana Jones' more libertine young compadres are mostly not French, for whatever reason.

Indiana Jones is an interesting property. At the time this was written, there were three movies, and a Young Indiana Jones TV show. I never really got into the TV show, because it found it's forced "educational" message clunky. Not to mention the fact that the show was boring as all get-out, at least for the first half dozen or so episodes. Cardinal sin for a property like Indiana Jones to bore your audience.

But there's a fair bit of back-story to the Indy, and his character is pretty well established. For that matter, the development and execution of an Indiana Jones plot is pretty well known too; it's a bit formulaic. And while I don't mind an author attempting to monkey with a successful formula, if he's going to do so, he better do so in a way that makes the story, character, or something better than the formula would have been. This is what Rob MacGregor fails to understand; making Indy a somewhat bitter, indecisive, confused, and generally clueless guy may well have been based on clues from the movies (particularly the third one, that highlights a lot of Indy's relationship with his father) and might well be reasonable given the time period in which the novel is set, but it doesn't make him very likable nor does it make him recognizably Indiana Jones.

Anyway, other than this, the novel's alright. The pacing was a bit slow, and the novel took longer to get interesting than any of the movies ever did. I didn't exactly have high expectations for this novel, so they were met, if not exceeded. To be honest, however, I'm a little unsure if I think it's worth my while to continue in the series. There's at least ten in this prequel run of novels. I'm not sure how many I can stand if they're all of this calibre before I'm done with them, though.

As a curious aside, before I actually picked up the book itself, I had misread the title. I knew that it said Delphi, which of course, is a famous location in early Greece, but my mind translated it as Delhi and I expected it to take place in India. Whoops!

1 comment:

Greg Christopher said...

I read this book as a teenager. The only thing I remember about it was the bath scene. ;)