Question: in discussing adventure novels, are we talking about stories that specifically evoke the themes and ideas inherent to the Indiana Jones films, or is the field broader than that?
I ask because, when contemplating the idea of an adventure story, I tend to think first of some of my favorite books from my youth. Such as:
Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow)
Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo)
Jules Verne (Around the World in Eighty Days, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)
Are these appropriate additions, or are we seeking more archaeologically flavored fare? Or titles that are more recently published?
Paden, I think those are all great suggestions and in-scope. I just try to think of novels that would likely appeal to fans of the Indiana Jones franchise.
Building on your list and the other input, I recommend the following:
Rudyard Kipling's 'Kim' -- one if not 'the' first spy novels -- set in India at the height of Empire and fun, fun read. (However there's a lot of terms and native phrases so only read from Edward Said's annotated version). Kipling's 'Kim' is a direct literary descendent of 'Kidnapped.'
Hemingway -- I will never tire of promoting 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.
James Dickey's 'Deliverance' and 'To the White Sea' are great reading. Not pure adventure but riveting.
Bartle Bull's novels -- Pure Adventure (so I'm with Roundshort on this). The first three starting with 'The White Rhino Hotel' and 'The Cafe on the Nile' (possibly the best) and 'The Devil's Oasis' are set in Africa and build up the beginning of the second World War. His latest 'Shanghai Station' is also fun and starts with a whole new set of characters. It will be interesting to see if Bull tries to blend his two storylines during a novel set in WWII.
Alan Furst's 'The Polish Officer' -- the story of a competent cartography thrust into varied intrigues abroad as a Polish spy working to fight the Germans any way he can. This is the story of a true soldier alone in a world seemingly falling apart (i.e. falling under the heel of the German Tyrants). Good Hemigwayesque writer.
I have to write a bt more about "Something of Value" by Ruark. This is in my opinon one of the best adventure novels ever written based on true events, (unlike South, which is the best adventure/survival story ever). In Africa, int he 50's a peaceful tribe of Kikuyu, under a plot by the commuinist to rise up and kill the English whom had "stolen thier lands" under a very, very bloody revolt, many British were chopped to death by the now named Mau Mau's. Instead of running as the Mau Maus thought, they English turned to big game hunters (there were many in Kenya at this time) to head scoutting parties into the mountains and hunt down nd kill all the mau mau.
Rupert Ruark wrote an amazing story aboout this, based on fact, that I was not able to put down, even though I was reading it on South Beach (where trust me there were many, many better things to look at!)
Location: The Host City of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australia
Personally, I'm quite the fan of Henry R. Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines" and "Alan Quartermain." In Australia, there is a series of novels for pre-teens and up called the "Cairo Jim Chronicles" and another series called the "Jocelyn Osgood Jaunts" by Geoffrey McSkimming. There are the closest I have found to Indiana Jones. The Cairo Jim character is a bit like Indy but really a more soft hearted version and Jocelyn is much like Marion. There's also a very close Marcus Brody character called Gerald Perry. They sound like pale imitations but both series are quite good and highly recommended.
Talbot Mundy's "Jimgrim" stories may well appeal to fans of "Indiana Jones". Set mainly in the east and written and set in about the 1920's they are about an American , James Schuyler Grimm (known as Jimgrim) who works for the British in the area, encountering intrigue, action and occasionally mysticism. For those who have tried the "Cairo Jim" books I would recommend trying Lloyd Alexander's "Vesper Holly" novels. Written for teenagers, they trace the adventures of a resourcefull and adventurous girl and her long suffering guardian in the 1870's. Very much in the "Indiana Jones" style,except that Vesper rarely uses violence, preferring to think her way out of situations. Heck the blurb even compares Vesper to Indy ("Look out Indiana Jones, here comes Vesper Holly"). The comparison is rather unfair in my opinion , as the only thing that Vesper and Indy share seems to be a love of adventure (and an ability to get into trouble!)
Can't go wrong with Conrad. I've only read Heart of Darkness personally, but that's an essential read, especially for people interested in what colonialism does to the colonizer. Kurtz is one of the great characters.
rMore modern in setting of course (more akin to Cussler) you have Australian author Matthew Reilly and also writers such as David Gibbins, Steve Berry and James Rollins . Unfortunately I haven't got around to reading any Berry or Rollins yet (and only the first Gibbins, "Atlantis") but the style is akin to Cussler and/or "Indiana Jones", at least if one is to judge by the blurbs ! As mentioned Jules Verne is worth checking out; not only his classic works such as "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", but some of his other adventure stories like "The Mighty Orinoco". Edgar Rice Burroughs is another who is worth investigating; everyone knows "Tarzan" but his other books such as the "Pellucidar", "Caprona" and "Caspack" (spelling ?) series and his less fantastic works like "The Mad King" and "The Mucker" ! Then of course there is Robert E Howard. Again, everyone probably first thinks of "Conan", but Howard wrote plenty of adventure, pirate, horror and other stories featuring characters like "Black Terence Vulmea","Sailor Steve Costigan" and "Breakenridge Elkins".
To further drive home what Otto Rahn has mentioned, I'm a huge fan of Matthew Reilly, James Rollins, & Steve Berry.
Matthew Reilly is who really got me into reading adventure novels. Check out Temple & 7 Deadly Wonders (one of my favorites).
James Rollins is by far my favorite author. Excavation is heavily into archeology and lost cities/traps/etc...very Indy-ish. Sandstorm is the same. His newer books are a little different, but also great...a little less adventure, a little more action.
Steve Berry is also one of my favorites. His writing style is top notch. He's more along the lines of Dan Brown, though, than Indiana Jones. Alexandria is a very, very good book.
I've also read David Gibbin's Atlantis...it was ok at best to me.
Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series revolves around Egptology and archeology.
Wilbur Smith is another great adventure author. A great recommendation for Indy fans.
Robin Cook usually writes medical novels, but ventured into the adventure genre with Sphinx.
I'm not really a fan of Clive Cussler, but Inca Gold was ok.
J.F. Freedman's Fallen Idols was a fun read.
And I'll save the best for last, Tim LaHaye's (author of the Left Behind series) Babylon's Rising series. It's a religious apocalypse series like Left Behind, but it's done in a very Indy-like adventure way. The lead character is a Bible Archeologist/Professor. He goes on adventures throughout the world looking for artifacts that proves the Bible to be true...but has to do it before the bad guys get there.
While not an adventure novel, Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union published this past summer is a riveting noir tribute novel with plenty of action. Next to The Corrections, YPU is the best book that I've read in years.
I found Chabon's Kavalier & Clay ponderous (Pulitzer be damned) -- but the YPU was pitch perfect and moved. No one can tell stories-within-a-story like Chabon.
Another adventure writer that I have discovered recently is Bill Napier . I haven't read them yet (of course ! ) but "Nemesis" , "The Lure" and "Revelation" (I don't have his other one, "Shattered Icon") all look like interesting adventures, if not exactly in the "Indiana Jones" mold.
To the admirable list of books and authors already mentioned, allow me to add The Chinese Bandit by Stephen Becker. For that matter, any book by Stephen Becker is worth reading for some real adventure stories. For a couple of other options, check out:
- Instruments of Darkness by Robert Wilson;
- Horn of Africa by Phillip Caputo;
- The Fu Manchu Stories by Sax Rohmer (collected in omnibus editions a few years ago);
- Deadly Safari by Karin McQuillin.
And while not adventure stories, for exquisite local detail, read the Inspector Çetin Ikmen novels by Barbra Nadel, the Commissario Guido Brunetti tales by Donna Leon, and the Aimee Leduc Investigations by Cara Black.