I’m working on the final chapters of the Hope & Glory basic handbook, and at the same time I am preparing the new episode of the KaravanCast, and both activities, while taking very different times – no less that three hours of writing per day for the handbook, about ten minutes per day for the podcast – led me to an old acquaintance of mine: Talbot Mundy.
My creed is this: God is a gentleman.
And if God made the Universe, and made it well,
And since our duty is to be like God,
Therefore the things that common mortals do
Are better done; the thoughts the others think
Are better thought, by gentlemen.
Mundy was one of the titans of imaginative and adventure fiction, a stalwart of Adventure magazine in its heyday and a distinctively anti-colonialist author.
And Hope & Glory being a universe in which British colonialism in India takes a very different and radical direction away from what history records, Mundy is certainly the most influential author for the project.
Mundy has been compared to Kipling, to Rider Haggard and sometimes to Lamb, even occasionally to Burroughs – but he remains very much his own man.
So I told myself, why not re-read a few Mundy books, and as I am at it, do a podcast on the subject?
And because we need to start somewhere, I decided to go through the Yasmini novels:
A Soldier and a Gentleman, Adventure magazine, January 1914. Winds of the World Adventure magazine, July–September 1915 King – of the Khyber Rifles, Everybody’s Magazine, May 1916 The Guns of the Gods, Adventure magazine, March 3-May 3, 1921 Caves of Terror (The Grey Mahatma), Adventure magazine, Nov 10, 1922
Ever the Winds of the World fare forth
(Oh, listen ye! Ah, listen ye!),
East and West, and South and North,
Shuttles weaving back and forth
Amid the warp! (Oh, listen ye!)
Can sightless touch—can vision keen
Hunt where the Winds of the World have been
And searching, learn what rumors mean?
(Nay, ye who are wise! Nay, listen ye!)
When tracks are crossed and scent is stale,
‘Tis fools who shout—the fast who fail!
But wise men harken-Listen ye!
Because it’s a manageable series – five titles, a reasonably quick read.
And because I like the character of Yasmini, that for me will always have the looks of a young and so-beautiful-it-hurts Myrna Loy in “The Black Watch”. So sue me.
Yasmini is an intriguing female character, and one that signals from page one the striking difference of Mundy’s approach to adventure – he wrote of strong, intelligent women in the 1910s and 1920s.
My own character of Lucinda Gadakaris in Glass Houses (yes, this is a product placement) has a lot of Yasmini, if with a tougher attitude and a modicum of steampunk trappings.
Also, the series includes the legendary King – of the Khyber Rifles, of which two movies exist, and so we’ll have something to talk about in the forthcoming podcast – and I might re-watch them too, and do posts on the subject.
The fact that Mundy died in 1940 and many of his works are now in the public domain has ben a sort of itch I’ll need to scratch sooner or later – an almost unknown author in my country, it would be fun to translate some of his works.
But how and when, thats another story altogether.
In case you are interested in checking out the works of Mundy about Yasmini before I get to cover them in the KaravanCast, you can find free-to-download versions of Mundy’s work on the pages of both Project Gutenberg and Project Gutenberg of Australia, and in the Internet Archive.
LibriVox also has audio versions of many works by Mundy.