Technically this novel may not be forgotten, since Altus Press just reprinted it as one of the first entries in the Argosy Library, but I think it's safe to say that before that, not many people other than Matt Moring remembered it. Charles Alden Seltzer is best known as a Western author, but he wrote other sorts of adventure fiction, too. GONE NORTH, as its title implies, is a Northern, since it takes place in Canada's Great North Woods, but it doesn't have Mounties or snowstorms or dogsleds or many of the other trappings we associate with that genre. It does, however, have a varied cast of characters after a fortune in gold.
What else does it have, you ask? Well, how about a great stone castle in the middle of the woods, complete with towers and cannon and secret passages, populated by bloodthirsty pirates (the sea-going kind, who have moved north), foppish but deadly European aristocrats, a beautiful young girl raised by the above-mentioned pirates, and a prisoner who knows the location of a fabulously valuable gold mine. If that's not enough, how about a two-fisted protagonist who made a fortune in the Klondike and now roams the world in search of adventure and wrongs to right? Then there's his sidekick, a giant Indian who steps on his enemies' necks in order to break them. Throw in some sword fights, a lot of running around in those secret passages and tunnels, epic brawls like you'd find in movie serials from Republic Pictures, riding the rapids in canoes, and assorted other mayhem. How Seltzer overlooked a quicksand scene, I'll never know.
This novel appeared as a six-part serial in ARGOSY in March and April of 1930, and the readers must have been holding their breath from one installment to the next. GONE NORTH is old-fashioned, sure, but it's also extremely entertaining if you're a fan of the adventure pulps. I loved it. It's exactly the sort of thing Ace Books would have reprinted in one of those small-size paperbacks in the early Sixties, and I would have read it on my parents' front porch on a summer day, utterly enthralled. It's hard to recapture that feeling now, but GONE NORTH does at times, and I'm grateful to Altus Press for bringing it back.
I've been wanting to read some of Charles Alden Seltzer's Westerns for a while. Now I want to even more.