Brood of the Witch Queen

Are there any Sax Rohmer fans among my regular visitors?

I’m finally reading one of his novels, although it’s not a Fu Manchu title. I’m about halfway through a supernatural menace novel titled Brood of the Witch Queen. Rohmer can turn up the dial on the menace really well, and is really strong on the description — sometimes I stop and re-read paragraphs because they’re so nicely composed. The heroes are a little wooden and pulpy but the rest of the prose definitely has enough strengths that it’s worth a look, if you’re at all curious.

I’ll have to try some Fu-Manchu now, although I might first finally get around to reading Calgaich The Swordsman, the famed Gordon Shireffs historical that’s supposed to very good and quite Howardian.

10 Comments on “Brood of the Witch Queen

  1. I’ve read a few of the Fu Manchu novels and few others by Rohmer. You are right Rohmer is good at turning up the menace. At least the first Fu Manchu, is really a fix-up novel of collection in that it is really a group of stories strung together. The main characters are Dennis Nayland-Smith and Dr. Petrie who are essentially Sherlock Holmes and Watson. However, Fu Manchu stands as one of the great supervillains in literature.

    • It’s interesting that you say the first Fu-Manchu is a fix-up novel, because this one feels like a series of loosely connected serial events — perhaps by the end there will be four of them, total, as though there were originally a few novellas with this villain.

      • The first Fu Manchu book started as different stories published in magazines. I don’t know about Brood of the Witch Queen having never read it.

  2. I have read all of the Fu books. Be warned that the quality drops even more swiftly than with Burroughs’ later Tarzan novels. This is definitely a series where you want to start with the first book. Continue until you feel that the books are not as good as they were, and then quit.

    (I know I have a copy of Calgaich boxed away somewhere, but I cannot remember anything about it.)

    • I was told to definitely start with the first Fu book, and that he’s really cool whenever he comes on stage. But I’ve also been warned by another friend that the heroes are pretty wooden.

      Interesting that the quality drops so precipitously.

      I should perhaps be ashamed to admit I never made it through to the end of either the Mars OR Tarzan books. Ryan Harvey did an extensive review/read through of them over at Black Gate and I seem to recall that even in the second half of the Tarzan books there were occasional highlights and surprises.

      • Fu Manchu is pretty cool, but the heroes Dennis Nayland-Smith and Dr. Petrie are essentially Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson with different names and less liveliness too them.

  3. Very curious to see your take on Calgaich, a book I tracked down based on a recommendation from Morgan Holmes. I liked it quite a bit, as it was generally well written and great fun to read. I may be a bit biased, as I much prefer to read Roman Age historical adventures that feature a barbarian as the hero, and the Romans as the bad guys.

    • If you haven’t already, you should investigate Talbot Mundy’s Tros of Samothace saga. The primary villain is Julius Caesar. Like Harold Lamb, Mundy was a regular contributor to Adventure, the queen of the pulp magazines.

      • I read those a LOOOONG time back. At first I had trouble adjusting to the pace, but I ended up quite liking them. I stalled out on the fifth book, which was less about Tros, and keep thinking I should come back for the sixth, which I hear is just as good as the first four.

    • I’ll definitely be posting my thoughts on it when I finally get around to reading it. Maybe over the holidays.

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