Best 1919 Adventures (2)
January 5, 2019
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1919 adventure novels. Happy 100th anniversary!
Sax Rohmer’s treasure-hunt adventure The Quest of the Sacred Slipper.
Before Hergé’s Tintin adventure The Seven Crystal Balls, the Beatles’ movie Help!, or Indiana Jones, Rohmer’s The Quest of the Sacred Slipper gave us an unwilling hero — the journalist Cavanagh — who stumbles into a fantastic scheme involving an exotic, mystical MacGuffin. Unlike Rohmer’s better-known protagonist, the intrepid colonial police/Scotland Yard commissioner Denis Nayland Smith, who from 1912 on battled master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu, Cavanagh isn’t particularly tough, brave, or resourceful. When a sacred relic — a slipper believed to have belonged to the prophet Mohammed — is stolen (by Professor Deeping, a British archaeologist), Hassan of Aleppo, hashish-smoking leader of an elite sect of Muslim assassins, embarks upon a limb-lopping campaign of terror as he seeks to reclaim it. A talented American gangster also wants the slipper… while Cavanagh, who had nothing to do with the crime, gets caught in the middle of the action. There is an alluring femme fatale — who, for the time period, has quite a bit of agency. In an interesting twist Cavanagh’s ability to survive his ordeal will ultimately depend on his respect for Muslim tradition and beliefs.
Fun facts: Rohmer’s first Fu Manchu books were published from 1913–1917; he then attempted to move on from that franchise with The Quest of the Sacred Slipper, among other titles, including 1918’s Brood of the Witch-Queen. However, from 1931 on, he returned to Fu Manchu — due to popular demand.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.