Friday, June 29, 2018

Forgotten Books: Tigress of T'Wanbi - John Peter Drummond

I’m moving on to the third volume in Altus Press’s complete reprinting of the Ki-Gor novels from the pulp JUNGLE STORIES. The first story in this volume is “Tigress of T’Wanbi” from the Winter 1941-42 issue. That scene on the cover actually happens in the novel, except for maybe the belt the ape is wearing, I don’t recall any mention of it. But there’s Helene in the background (oh, man, Helene! Be still my heart!) and the babe in the blue bikini is Queen Julebba, also know as the Tigress of T’Wanbi (she refers to herself that way exactly once and the name is never explained or has anything to do with the plot, which makes me suspect the cover was done first and handed to the author).

Speaking of the author, although we don’t know who he is, I’m convinced he’s the same guy who wrote the previous few entries in the series. The clean, fast-moving prose is the same, and the colorful Hindu physician and Ki-Gor’s reluctant ally, Hurree Das, make a return to the series after last being seen in “Lair of the Beast” from the Spring 1941 issue. Ngeeso the pygmy puts in an appearance, as does Marmo the elephant, but Tembu George is only mentioned.

As for the plot, a mysterious army is making bloody, no-quarter raids on border villages belonging to a tribe friendly to Ki-Gor, so he and Helene go along when the chief sends an expeditionary force against the invaders. This doesn’t go well. Ki-Gor and Helene are both captured (at different times), Ki-Gor is badly wounded, and Queen Julebba, who claims to be descended from the Carthaginians in northern Africa, comes up with a daring plan that, if it succeeds, will make her the ruler of a vast swath of Africa. Oh, and she wants Ki-Gor to marry her, too, and doesn’t mind at all getting rid of Helene to make that possible.

There’s not an abundance of action, but the battle scenes that do take place are really good and the author creates some genuine suspense more than once, even though we know Ki-Gor and Helene are going to survive. Hurree Das is a great character, shady and conniving and no better than he has to be, but he usually winds up on the right side, anyway. In his introduction to this volume, Howard Andrew Jones has good things to say about “Tigress of T’Wanbi”, and I agree with him. It’s one of the best Ki-Gor novels I’ve read so far, and the series has hit its stride.


George said...

I'm a fan of the Altus Press’s Ki-Gor novels, too. They don't write stories like this anymore!

Howard Jones said...

Glad you liked that one. Unfortunately the next one isn't so hot. It's actually something of a stinker. But "Blood Priestess" later on in the volume is almost as good as the Ki-Gors can get, and there are many of that level of quality that lie before you from this point on, and some that are even a little better.

Not that there aren't more dogs, but there are a lot of really fine ones coming up from the end of this collection forward.