Friday, March 1, 2013

The Terror of Fu Manchu- A Review

The Terror of Fu ManchuThe Terror of Fu Manchu by William Patrick Maynard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Terror of Fu Manchu- A review

This was a different type of book for me, as stories set in the past are usually not my normal type of reading material. Thankfully I was surprised by this book.
The Terror of Fu Manchu is a story that travels about the globe, truly beginning with the Chinese Boxer rebellion and traveling forward a few years from there. The book is set in the early 20th century, and follows Dr. Petrie, who is the narrator, and his friend Sir Dennis Nayland Smith in their pursuit of the evil Fu Manchu, who bears a grudge against the western world.
Fu and his Si-Fan (A group of assassins made up of the scurrilous of a hundred different races) are seeking, through mystical means, the destruction of western civilization. Along with several mysterious groups of evil-doers and secret societies involved in this books pages, he just might achieve it.
Petrie follows the trail of Fu Manchu from England to France where he teams with a French Gendarme who saves his life on more than one occasion.
Along the way Smith and Petrie encounter snowmen (Both live and dead) a giant crocodile and hordes of villains as well as a few mystery’s. All in all it’s a compelling tale that rivets your attention to the books pages. In many ways for me it was reminiscent of a Sherlock Holmes story.
What I didn’t like about the story was that Petrie was more of a victim throughout it than hero. Constantly being captured and tortured in one way or another, his constant pining for this woman who is a slave to Fu Manchu grew tiresome as the book progressed. He was, if anything an anti-hero or perhaps simply along for the ride. What I mean by that is that instead of him working against his enemy he simply seemed to follow him along trying to catch up, and when he finally did he was captured and either drugged or tortured or mesmerized. He was certainly no Sherlock Holmes or James Bond in that regard.
Nayland-Smith was more of a heroic character in the book, but for a large portion of it he was nowhere to be found. I was actually surprised by this, having never read a Fu Manchu story before, the only contact I had with these characters was through Marvel’s ‘Master of Kung Fu’ title which featured Fu Manchu’s son, Shang Chi. (A Marvel creation.) Nevertheless Nayland-Smith was a central character through much of that series, as was Fu himself.
So going in I did not know what to expect.
William Patrick Maynard gave us a surprisingly well written and edited book. The story flowed perfectly, and even though I felt it was a bit convoluted at times, as there was just so much going on, perhaps a little bit more than was easily kept track of, it was still a good read.
Recommended, Four out of Five Stars.

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