Friday, December 28, 2018

Forgotten Books: Blood Priestess of Vig N'Ga - John Peter Drummond

For the final Forgotten Books post of the year, we return to a series I’ve really enjoyed: the fourteenth Ki-Gor novel, BLOOD PRIESTESS OF VIG N’GA, from the Summer 1942 issue of JUNGLE STORIES.

This is generally regarded as one of the best yarns of the entire series, and I can see why. It begins with Ki-Gor and Helene searching for an anthropologist friend of theirs, David Gray, who has gone missing. (Gray previously appeared in the novel KI-GOR—AND THE PARADISE THAT TIME FORGOT.) They have received word of Gray’s disappearance through the secret society to which Ki-Gor belongs, the Brotherhood of the Dog (a reference to KI-GOR—AND THE TEMPLE OF THE MOON GOD). After a dangerous encounter with a gorilla, they run into a native who tries to kill them, a fracas that alerts them to a possible uprising led by a fanatic known as El Hakim. This is going to complicate their search for David Gray, and so will their discovery of the remains of a 900-year-old Viking ship in a dry riverbed.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that from that point, BLOOD PRIESTESS OF VIG N’GA turns into a Lost Race novel, and of course we all know from reading Edgar Rice Burroughs that Africa is just teeming with lost races and civilizations. With a plot like this, a story’s appeal depends almost entirely on the author’s skill in executing it, and the unknown pulpster responsible for BLOOD PRIESTESS OF VIG N’GA does a great job with it, keeping the action moving at a very satisfying pace and providing some epic action scenes along the way, especially when Ki-Gor battles his enemies using one particular weapon retrieved from that old Viking ship . . .

I have no idea who wrote this story. The references to those earlier entries in the series might indicate that the same author did all three, or it might not. Whoever wrote this one might have just read those earlier stories. There’s no mention of any of the regular supporting cast, only Ki-Gor and Helene. But the author does a very good job of capturing their characters. Helene’s no dummy in this one; for the most part, she’s smart and competent, although she does wind up getting captured and having to be rescued. That was just standard pulp plotting, though. My only real complaint is that the ending seemed a little rushed, as if the author realized that the story was getting too long. I also have a hunch that the cover was done before the story was written, because while the fight with the gorilla depicted on the cover does take place in the story, it’s a throwaway scene that doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the novel.

Although I missed Tembu George, the writing in this story is good enough that I have to say it’s the best Ki-Gor yarn I’ve read so far. I’m looking forward to continuing with the series.

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