Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage #8


October, 1933 - The Sargasso Ogre

Sequels. The Doc Savage Novels have sequels. This is the second direct sequel out of 7 chances. This adventure follows up on what happens with Doc and the fabulous five after their trip to the Lost Oasis and the discovery of the diamond mine in the middle of the Sahara.

The Sargasso Ogre opens up in Alexandria with Long Tom getting himself into trouble with some thieves that are after the diamonds rumored to have been brought out of the desert by Doc and his associates.

Soon after, Doc and his men board a liner headed for New York with 6 cases of diamonds in the ship's safe. It takes 3 days to cruise from Alexandria to the Straits of Gibralter. It soon becomes obvious that all is not well. All communication and navigation gear are smashed by the men of a vicious thug, Jacob Black Bruze. The ship travels for days on end, to who knows where. Well, Bruze know where, and Doc and his men find out soon enough.

This middle of the novel drags a bit as the days go by, with Doc and Company hunting Bruze and the ship sailing travelling under cloudy skies to parts unknown. But once the journey ends, the action picks up and this novel becomes another great Doc Savage story.

I try to not give away too much in these reviews, but on the other hand I have to say something. So if you don't want to know any of the story details I suggest that you don't read reviews!

Lester Dent has created two really good characters in this book. One is the brute, Jacob Bruze, the toughest man Doc and fought to date. Mean, cruel, and just nasty, Bruze lives up to his name, giving Doc a beating. He is known as the "Sargasso Ogre" by the other denizens living on the massive floating "small continent" of wrecks caught up in the swirl of currents in the Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea.

A group of women, some of them born in the Sargasso, and some survivors of ships caught in the weedy clog of wrecks, have managed to make their home in a stranded battleship. These Sargasso Amazons are lead by the second great new character in this book, a fabulous Dent creation, Kina la Forge. Dent describes her deliciously.

She was a redhead... she would have topped Doc's shoulder. Her eyes were a dreamy South Seas blue... her lips were an inviting bow... her features could hardly have been improved upon...

She wore an amazing costume -- a loose, brocaded, Russian style blouse, drawn at the waist with a belt fashioned of parallel lines of gold coins. From this dangled a slender, jeweled sword which Doc was certain dated back at least four centuries.

There was also an efficient, spike-nosed, very modern automatic pistol.
Her small feet were shod in strange boots of soft leather, which extended several inches above her ankles. She wore trousers of some silken fabric which terminated shortly above her knees. She was an exotic - and attractive - figure, this queen of the Amazons.

A Pirate Queen that carries a trained monkey on her shoulder. Count me in. She is the best of the strong women that fall for Doc so far. Her appearance here raises the level of this tale by throwing a whole new dynamic into the story, and messing with Dent's formula. She was born in the Sargasso, her parents came from ships forced there by storms. She has known no other life but the flotilla of wrecks. I am curious to find out if she leaves with Doc or stays behind, living in the Sargasso.

I give this superior yarn an 8.5 out of 10 - this is a great read.

For this review I read my copy of the Bantam Paperback #18, 4th Printing.

The Bantam cover is by James Bama. The Pulp cover is by Walter Baumhofer. There is also a hardback Golden Book with a cover by Ben Otero.

You can buy both The Lost Oasis and the Sargasso Ogre in one volume from Anthony Tollin's Sanctum Books.

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