February 1991 (pb)
It hardly seems possible that it was almost 22 years ago that a film entitled “Raiders of the Lost Ark” took movie viewers back to an earlier age of Saturday matinee “cliffhangers” and added a new character to the pantheon of America’s fictional heroes: intrepid adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones. Even though it’s been more than ten years since the last Indiana Jones movie filled theatre seats nation-wide, it’s a good bet that Indiana Jones has become firmly anchored in the national and perhaps even international psyche.
Along with the “Trilogy,” as Indy fans adoringly refer to the three films (soon to become a –what? Quadrology? – as a fourth movie begins shooting this summer), were comic books, action figures and a highly regarded (at least in Europe) TV series entitled “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” that related his adventures from a lad of ten (meeting a young Lawrence of Arabia, Teddy Roosevelt on safari, Norman Rockwell and Degas in Paris, etc) through his youth as a volunteer in the Belgian army during the Great War and on to his years as an archaeology student at the University of Chicago. In 1991, Lucas Films began a series of novels picking up where the TV “Chronicles” left off and filling in the years between college and the “Temple of Doom,” chronologically the first Indiana Jones movie adventure. And while the chronology of the books doesn’t quite fit with the TV “Chronicles,” and some of the books in the 12 volume series are simply dreadful, this first entry in the series, Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi is really quite entertaining.
This would purportedly be Indiana Jones’ first adventure as an archaeologist (although the book notes that his academic studies are really in languages). The novel begins with Indy’s last days as a student at the University of Chicago and his involvement in a pretty stupid college prank the night before graduation. Young Indiana then moves on to the Sorbonne for his graduate studies and comes under the influence of the beautiful and bewitching professor of archaeology, Dorian Belecamus. She takes him on as a grad assistant to excavate a site at Delphi, where the Oracle of ancient times rendered her prophecies. Whether assistant to or dupe of the beautiful archaeology professor, Indy quickly finds himself drawn into a vortex of intrigue and danger as various interests plot to bring political change to Greece by any means necessary, including bringing back the ancient oracle whose sacred knowledge can help them gain power.
For a fun dip into mindless adventure fiction it would be hard to beat Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi, or the other books in this series written by Rob MacGregor. It can also help us Indiana Jones fans who have to wait until the summer of 2004 for the next movie adventure of this intrepid hero, fully equipped once more with his bullwhip, Webley revolver, and fedora hat—but no trowel as near as I can tell!