Friday, March 24, 2017

Forgotten Books: Ki-Gor--and the Forbidden Mountain - John Peter Drummond


What seems to be yet another new author comes on board this series with KI-GOR—AND THE FORBIDDEN MOUNTAIN, originally published in the Spring 1940 issue of JUNGLE STORIES. At first it appears that whoever wrote this novel never read the previous one, since the continuity that marked the first four stories is missing. Eventually, there are some references back to the previous novel, including the reappearance of one of the villains, which makes me wonder if the author of this one read the earlier story while he was in the middle of writing. There's a definite change in tone about halfway through KI-GOR—AND THE FORBIDDEN MOUNTAIN.

The biggest difference, though, between this novel and the previous ones is the characterization of Helene Vaughn, the beautiful redhead who shares Ki-Gor's adventures. In the earlier novels, Helene is a real bad-ass, picking up a rifle or a Tommy gun and fighting the bad guys right alongside the Lord of the Jungle. In this book, she's ditzy and incompetent almost all the way through, although she does quite a bit to save the day in the late going. She's certainly not the Helene the reader has come to know in the first four novels.

All that said, KI-GOR—AND THE FORBIDDEN MOUNTAIN does have some things going for it. The writing is reasonably good, the action scenes are okay, and as a lost race novel, it definitely shows a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs influence. That lost race lives on top of a mysterious flat-topped mountain surrounded by a sinister force that kills invisibly, which leads the natives in the area to dub it the Invisible Death. (Well, what else would you call it?)

This is the weakest of the novels so far, an uneasy mixture of the goofiness of the early stories with the more hardboiled realism of KI-GOR—AND THE SECRET LEGIONS OF SIMBA. I enjoyed it enough to keep reading and I hope the next novel will pick up the pace again.


29 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've read a couple of these stories. Been awhile.

George said...

I'm buying the KI-GOR reprint collections as a result of your enthusiastic reviews! Keep them coming!

Howard Jones said...

Yeah, it's kind of a dog. The really good ones are further along the pike. You'll have some more dogs before you get there, if you want to keep reading in order. But if you want to skip, I'll be happy to point you towards the first of the really good ones, in volume 3. And volume 5 is going to be nothing but "hit singles."

Walker Martin said...

Howard, I've run into some of these dogs but I've also read some good ones. I'd be interested in your list of hits...

Howard Jones said...

Here you go -- the list, and maybe more info than you want:

http://www.howardandrewjones.com/heroic-fiction/pulp/the-mighty-ki-gor-tarzans-forgotten-rival

Which good ones have you read?

James Reasoner said...

Thanks, Howard. I'd read that post before, but I just went back and read it again. For the moment, I'm still planning to read the series in order as much as I can (I have most of the stories but not all of them), simply because I've never read a pulp series like that but have always skipped around. But I reserve the right to change my mind if I hit too many clunkers in a row!

Todd said...

So, we have no good idea who was doing the Ki-Gor stories...too bad, if so.

And is that Kee-Gor, or Kai-Gor?

James Reasoner said...

I've always pronounced it Kai-Gor.

James Reasoner said...

This page

https://petercurrane.wordpress.com/

lists some of the authors thought to have written Ki-Gor stories but not which stories. The ones he mentiones are Dan Cushman, James McKimmey, Stanley Mullin, W. Scott Peacock, and Robert Turner. McKimmey mentioned in an interview several years ago that he wrote a few Ki-Gor novels but didn't identify them. Cushman certainly wrote plenty for Ficton House and I can see him being recruited to write Ki-Gors. Turner was prolific and wrote a little bit of every genre. Peacock and Mullin I don't know much about, other than seeing their names in various pulps.

Walker Martin said...

Howard, thanks for the link to your article on Ki-Gor. I've read it before but it's a keeper because of the 21 novels that you list as your favorites. Though my favorite author in JUNGLE STORIES by far is Dan Cushman, the Ki-Gor novels are enjoyable. I still have quite a few to read but so far I've enjoyed:

LOST PRIESTESS OF THE NILE
BLOOD GOLD OF B'TONGA
THE MONKEY MEN OF LOBA GOLA
STALKERS OF THE DAWN WORLD

By the way, I love the illustrations of Vestal. Also I used to own the original cover painting that you show in your article. I made a big mistake trading it for something else. I bought it for only a hundred dollars and it hung in my bedroom for many years.

Howard Jones said...

Wow! You used to have the cover of my favorite Ki-Gor? And you SOLD it?

I weep. (Although I can't imagine where I could have hung that in my house, since I'd have to consult my wife to put it in some place other than my study, and there's no way I'm taking down the framed Adventure covers, which take up the only spots on my study walls that don't have bookshelves.)

I like all of those you cite, esp. Monkey-Men and Stalkers. Stalkers is probably up there among my very favorites. Top spot might have to go to Silver Witch, but Stalkers, Beast-Gods of Atlantis, Lost Priestess of Vig N'ga, Golden Claws of Raa, Death Seeks for Congo Treasure, Huntress of the Hell-Pack, and Golden Beasts of Zuli-Maen are all about equally grand, and top shelf Ki-Gor even among the very best. More than any other, Vig N'ga reads like REH doing a Tarzan pastiche. If only...

Todd Mason said...

Stanley Mullen was a fan and a remarkably bad fiction writer that Love Romances was inexplicably fond of employing...I suspect that Jerome Bixby was either too close a friend or even more likely overruled by his boss Malcolm Reiss for some reason into accepting his terrible work for both PLANET STORIES and JUNGLE STORIES...Wilbur Peacock was a marginally less dire writer who had previously been an editor for the magazines (he wasn't that much of an editor, either, though of course Leigh Brackett and some of the other contributors to PLANET, including her acolyte Ray Bradbury, didn't need Too much editor). If Mullen was involved, or Peacock, it's not so surprising there were some Very Bad Ki-Gors in the mix.

Todd Mason said...

(You see the Bill Crider joke there?)

James Reasoner said...

I did see the joke. Made me smile.

I wonder if Emmett McDowell might have written some Ki-Gors. He's certainly all over the Fiction House pulps. I'm not aware of him doing much, if any, work under house-names, though.

Thanks for the info on Mullen and Peacock.

S. Craig Zahler said...

Yeah, The Silver Witch is a definite winner, though I prefer Warrior Queen of Attilla's Lost Legion, which was recommended to me as a highlight in the series by the trustworthy pulp historian, Ed Hulse. The Burroughs influence is not small, but it is even faster paced and more wild.

And speaking of lost races...I just moments ago finished reading Allan Quatermain. Man...pretty frustrating. The first half of this book is possibly the best adventure fiction I've ever read--incredible and eerie landscapes, vivid action, rich atmosphere, and terrific friendships that are all conveyed via a smart, philosophical voice, but the second half of the novels derails and devolves into forced and trite (even for its time) romance and a dry, almost nonfictional approach to dumping fictional information. The end result is that the book does not compare to H. Rider Haggard's finest, King Solomon's Mines and The People of the Mist, nor the finest stories by the master, Harold Lamb.
But the first half of Allan Quatermain is really masterful adventure fiction.

James Reasoner said...

As it happens, I've been thinking about reading some Haggard. The thing I've read by him is KING SOLOMON'S MINES, and that was close to 50 years ago. I believe I have a paperback copy of THE PEOPLE OF THE MIST somewhere, so I might dig it out. Lamb I've read, but not nearly enough.

c zar said...

People of the Mist is quite good--especially its second half. Avoid the spoiler filled summaries and get ready for some high octane and moody stuff.

Star of Evil Omen, Changa Nor, and The Rider of Gray Horse (all in the first Khlit the Cossack anthology published by Howard Jones) are three incredible tales. Certainly I can see why RE Howard was inspired by these tales and this author, though I prefer these stories by a big margin. Durandal is also good. And Making of the Morning Star may be my single favorite story by him, if not tied with the equally superb, Alamut. No writer I've ever read has better married a removed/historical style with deft plotting and exciting action and interesting characters as did Harold Lamb.

The master.

Walker Martin said...

Harold Lamb has been a big favorite with me since his first Khlit collection back in the 1960's. I have all his work in ADVENTURE but just about all his fiction is available in the 8 big Bison paperbacks. Nice introductions also and available from amazon.com.

Howard Jones said...

Lamb AND Ki-Gor in the same thread? What are the odds of that? My depth of expertise in the pulp field is narrow but deep, and those are two of the few areas where its the deepest.

Zahler, when it comes to Ki-Gor I wonder if our favorites aren't among the first we read? I like "Warrior-Queen" but it's not my fav. It didn't have glowing zombie-men... But then "Silver Witch" was the first one I ever devoured.

I love much of that first Khlit the Cossack collection, even if the first two or three tales are a little slight. Lamb learned how to spin tales FAST. And I agree that "The Making of the Morning Star is a real grand one." The late Bob Weinberg named it a favorite. And speaking of grand ones, "The Grand Cham" is a helluva page turner as well, and then there's the two Nial O'Gordon stories -- all of these are in Swords from the West.

I would really like to find a way to get all three of the Durandal novels into print in a single collection. Doesn't seem like D.M. Grant is ever going to do it, although I'm told they have the art finished. I sent them the manuscript of Rusudan ages ago. I'd like to see it done by Bison if Grant isn't going to finish it up.

Walker Martin said...

I just looked up my notes in ADVENTURE and I gave my highest ratings to "The Making of the Morning Star" and "The Grand Cham". Both are excellent stories.

I'd like to see the Durandal series in one book also. They would fit right in with the other Bison reprints of Lamb.

James Reasoner said...

Turns out I don't have a paperback copy of Haggard's THE PEOPLE OF THE MIST after all. But I do have an e-book edition and will read it on my Kindle.

And now you guys are making me want to read more Harold Lamb. I think I have all the Bison collections. The last thing I read by him was the Black Dog Books reprint of MARCHING SANDS, which I recall liking quite a bit.

Walker Martin said...

I liked MARCHING SANDS when I read it as an ARGOSY serial but as good as it is it cannot compare with the work Lamb was doing for ADVENTURE. I wonder if it was an ADVENTURE reject?

S. Craig Zahler said...

Marching Sands and The Grand Cham are both good Harold Lamb tales, especially the latter, but Alamut and The Making of the Morning Star are masterpieces...and I very rarely use that word.

Also, kind of like Allan Quatermain, the first half set up of Marching Sands is far far better than its ultimate destination. Especially that eerie guy who sits on the hotel doormat!

I've not read a ton of Ki-Gor, since I try to find original issues, but yes, I read Attilla before Silver Queen. I like glowing men, but not more than creepy gray apes that stare at you (nor pseudo-dinosaurs).

James Reasoner said...

I have Alamut, The Grand Cham, and The Making of the Morning Star in various collections and will try to read one of them this week . . . but I may have to flip a coin to decide which!

Howard Jones said...

I'd read one of the standalones, like Cham or Morning Star.

If I could have done so, I'd have read the Khlit the Cossack stories in order from the first, and I encourage you to try that instead of jumping in on tale 3 or 4 and starting there. The first one's a little slight, but it's short and still has some nice moments, and they just get stronger and stronger from there.

Walker Martin said...

Yes, I definitely agree with Howard about starting the Khlit series with the first story. The character develops as the series progresses and Lamb gets better and better. He's not your usual young, handsome hero always flirting with some girl. He's older, not that good looking and women don't play a big part in the adventures. Of course the lack of so called "woman interest" was part of the editor's policy at the time.

c zar said...

Cham is good, but for me, not a top 10 story by Harold Lamb, whereas Making of the Mourning Star is tied for #1 with Alamut.
S. Craig Zahler

Walker Martin said...

I first read "Alamut" in the early 1960's when the great Doubleday collection came out. Then I reread it in 1975 in the original 1918 ADVENTURE issue. Both times I thought it was excellent. So I thought I wonder how it would stand up to a third reading all these years later?

I just reread it last night in the big Bison collection and it was great. I put Lamb up there with such great pulp writers as Hammett, Chandler, Lovecraft, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, etc.

S. Craig Zahler said...

Walker,

That's very cool to read, though not surprising: Lamb's work is the very definition of timeless and will outlive us all. What a confident, creative, and precise storyteller he was. Alamut is masterful.

Harold Lamb, HP Lovecraft, and CAS are all top top favorite writers of mine as well---pulp or otherwise, they are masters of their genres.