The Drums of Fu-Manchu

The Drums of Fu-Manchu

by Sax Rohmer

Immediately before World War II, Fu-Manchu decides to kill or control the worlds war-mongering dictators, to pave the way for his own plans.

  • Series: Fu Manchu
  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.56
  • Pages: 320
  • Publish Date: June 3rd 2014 by Titan Books
  • Isbn10: 0857686119
  • Isbn13: 9780857686114

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from killing off a random assortment of dictators (thinly veiled versions of the likes of Mussolini and Hitler) and preventing the outbreak of war.

Fu-Manchu gives ultimatums of peace or death to each man, including the Dictator of Italy (not named Mussolini) and the Chancellor of Germany (not named Hitler). Smith does his usual thing of trying with varying success to stop the Doctor, traveling the world giving orders to foreign police forces, falling into obvious traps and then escaping, capturing Fu-Manchu only to lose him again, and smoking a lot. The idea that Nayland Smith must defend the lives of the world's worst dictators and war mongers is just an amazing juxtaposition that makes the entire storyline enthralling. Many books are written on the coming war and Hollywood is pouring out so many anti-Hitler movies (Confessions of a Nazi Spy) that even the Three Stooges make one, though the best of the period is clearly the Charlie Chaplin talkie The Great Dictator. Fu-Manchu has also advanced in his relationship with Nayland Smith. Also included is a stand alone Smith/Petrie story.

I read it for the historical aspect rather than the story as I was interested in a popular writer's take on the rise of the evil of Hitler.

Sax Rohmer's "The Drums of Fu-Manchu (Book Nine in the Fu-Manchu series) brings us another adventure of Sir Denis and the iconic evil genius - Dr. Fu-Manchu. Regardless, the Fu Manchu novels are worth the time to discover the great, intellectual (and stereotypical) iconic evil genius who is Fu Manchu.

Fu Manchus opponent Sir Dennis Nayland Smith is by no means a James Bond, but the evil doctor could certainly be a Bond archvillain.

In this volume, #9 of 14 in the Fu Manchu series, we find that Fu has decided that, in the interests of world peace, all warmongering European dictators must be brought to task, and either desist in their belligerent ways, or die a macabre death. The book is certainly racist (to a degree, all the other entries in the series are, too), as the reviewers below mention, but at the same time it does make a plea for peace and sanity in the year before WW2 broke out...and that's not too bad a message for any novel. One of our old friends from previous volumes makes a return in this book, and it's a real stunner when this character does reappear. Fey, Smith's manservant, in previous volumes, has had a rather normal pattern of speech.

Sax Rohmer in his book, The Drums of Fu-Manchu Book Nine in the Dr. Fu-Manchu series published by Titan Books brings us new adventures of Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. Petrie and, of course, the evil Dr. Fu-Manchu. Into this world on the brink comes the most fantastic emissary of evil society has ever known Fu-Manchu. In order to control the Si-Fan, and then the world, Fu-Manchu must assassinate the dictators who have brought Europe to the brink of war. That is the dilemma that faces Sir Denis Nayland Smith in this ninth Fu-Manchu book.

The book was first published in 1939 presumably just before the start of WW2 which made the story surprisingly, morally rather interesting, as much of the plot had the good guys trying to protect a dictator (Rudolf Adlon) who is obviously a thinly disguised Hitler. For the rest the book and I rather expect the rest of the series it is undoubtedly trash, but as Inigo Jollifant said in The Good Companions "there is trash and trash" and Sax Rohmer's trash is highly exciting, very compulsive un-put-down-able trash.

He worked as a poet, songwriter, and comedy sketch writer in Music Hall before creating the Sax Rohmer persona and pursuing a career writing weird fiction. His first published work came in 1903, when the short story The Mysterious Mummy was sold to Pearson's Weekly. After penning Little Tich in 1911 (as ghostwriter for the Music Hall entertainer) he issued the first Fu Manchu novel, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, was serialized from October 1912 - June 1913. His final success came with a series of novels featuring a female variation on Fu Manchu, Sumuru. His wife published her own mystery novel, Bianca in Black in 1954 under the pen name, Elizabeth Sax Rohmer.