Fiction Reviews

The Adventures of Indiana Jones

(2008) Campbell Black, James Kahn and Rob MacGregor, Bantam, 7.99, pbk, 602 pp, ISBN 978-0-553-81999-1


To coincide with the launch of the fourth Indiana Jones film, Bantam have released a compilation of the novelizations of the first three films. Originally these were initially individually published in 1981, 1984 and 1989 respectively. Including the fourth film at this juncture would theoretically have been possible, but clearly the studios do not want a spoiler on the bookshelves before folk have had a chance first to see the film. This is understandable and in itself no bad thing.

Indeed, it is because the films dominate that there is little point in recapping each of the stories in this review. Suffice to say, purely for completeness' sake, that it concerns the adventures of a US archaeologist early in the 20th century who addresses legends such as the Holy Grail and the Lost Ark that - only at each adventure's climax - involve some supernatural power. Along the way Indiana has to overcome adversaries, such as the Nazis, who seek this power for their own nefarious ends.

As for the novel adaptations themselves, these are largely very faithful to the films. 'Largely' because there are a number of minor omissions, such as - to take an initial example only - the eyelid flirtation scene early on in the first adventure. The writers have therefore done a competent workman-like job. Here make no mistake, this is not backhanded criticism but praise! There have been a few film-to-book adaptations where the author has sought to put on their own stamp. This is something that I personally hate just as much as I dislike film directors significantly deviating from the sense of vision of an original novel or TV series: in both instances such writers and directors should come up with their own original offering. Fortunately this is not the case here and those reading this collection will find themselves transported back to the films.

As for the writers, little need be said. 'Adaptation', as alluded to above, should for the writer be a low profile affair. Surely the aim would be for the reader to be immersed into the film's vision and not thinking of the writer at all. Having said that Rob MacGregor is worth a mention for he, it happens, had planned to study archaeology and enrolled at Minnesota U to that end. The promo' blurb does not say whether he completed his course (he is now a yoga teacher), rather that he still has an interest in ancient civilizations and on vacation visits archaeological sites. Whatever his exact background it is clear that his interest in the subject is at the very least a significant cut above researching the subject in a library. Furthermore he has written six original Indiana adventures of his own for Bantam under licence from Lucasfilm Ltd.

Clearly this collection will be a must for die-hard Indiana fans.

Jonathan Cowie

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