Saturday, August 20, 2011
The Gault Papers Part 3: Mundy's Tros Saga
As noted in the first two parts of “The Gault Papers,” posted elsewhere at The PulpRack, the following information was compiled and posted to the Internet by the late R.T. "Ditch" Gault under the title "Bibliographic Information on Talbot Mundy's Tibetan, Jimgrim, and Tros Story Series." See more info about the Gault Papers at those previous posts. Now, on to Gault’s Tros essay:
Bibliographic Information on Talbot Mundy's Tros of Samothrace Series
The saga of Tros of Samothrace is the most unified and sustained of Talbot Mundy's extended works. It is probably his best-remembered and most influential series, especially among science fiction and fantasy writers, who borrowed much from the cycle.
Shortly after Mundy finished Om he began planning a novel that he called Queen Cleopatra. He put the project aside, and instead produced a massive epic based around one of the supporting cast members of his projected novel, a Greek sailor-adventurer named Tros of Samothrace. Mundy's aim may have been to create interest for his Cleopatra novel in the pages of Adventure (abbreviated below as A). The series sparked a hot historical debate that ran for a decade. Mundy's revisionism, especially his view of Rome as a proto-fascist state, was ahead of its time.
The Tros Saga
Tros of Samothrace.
- 1. Tros of Samothrace, A: 10 February 1925.
- 2. The Enemy of Rome, A: 10 April 1025.
- 3. Prisoners of War, A: 10 June 1925.
- 4. Hostages to Luck, A: 20 August 1025
- 5. Admiral of Caesar's Fleet, A: 10 October 1925.
- 6. The Dancing Girl of Gades, A: 10 December 1925.
- 7. Messenger of Destiny, A: 10 February 1926
- 8. Messenger of Destiny, A: 20 February 1926.
- 9. Messenger of Destiny, A: 28 February 1926.
These nine installments were rewitten as Tros of Samothrace.
First American ed.: D. Appleton-Century Co. (September 1934), 949 pgs. First English ed.: Hutchinson & Co. (October 1934), 960 pgs; Buccaneer Books, 1995.
The length of the final novel gives some idea of the scope of the work. The novel spans from 55 BC, as Caesar makes plans to invade Britain, and ends with the failure of those invasion plans.
Not published in magazine form.
First American ed.: Bobbs-Merrill (February 1929), 426 pgs; and a special edition limited to 265 copies, signed by author, also dated February 1929. First English ed.: Hutchinson & Co. (March 1929).
As in original plan, Cleopatra is the main protagonist, but Tros' role may have expanded due to the popularity of the Adventure series. Ends with the assassination of Caesar, and Cleopatra's escape from Rome.
The Purple Pirate.
- 1. Battle Stations, A: 1 May 1935.
- 2. Cleopatra's Promise, A: 15 June 1935.
- 3. The Purple Pirate, A: 15 August 1935.
- 4. Fleets of Fire, A: 1 October 1935.
These four installments were rewritten as Purple Pirate. First American ed.: D. Appleton-Century Co. (October 1935), 367 pgs. First English ed.: Hutchinson & Co. (November 1935), 496 pgs; Amereon Ltd, 1991.
This novel concerns civil wars after Caesar's death. Ends before Cleopatra's death.
Two paperback reprints of the Tros Saga have generally confused many readers who haunt used bookshops.
The Avon printings of the late 1960s:
Avon published Tros of Samothrace in four volumes, breaking them at the same place that Mundy did:
- 1. Tros (1967) comprised installments 1 & 2; reprinted by Tandem Books (London 1971).
- 2. Helma (1967) comprised installments 3 & 4; reprinted by Tandem Books (London 1971).
- 3. Liafail (1967) comprised installments 5 & 6; reprinted by Tandem Books (London 1971).
- 4. Helene (1967) comprised installments 7, 8 & 9; reprinted by Tandem Books (London 1971).
Avon also reprinted The Purple Pirate and Queen Cleopatra (both 1970) with wonderful and sexy Frank Frazetta covers.
The only kind thing that can be said about the Zebra Books' reprinting of the Tros Saga is that they did keep it in print. Zebra published Tros of Samothrace in three volumes, breaking the stories in illogical mid-points of the Mundy originals:
- 1. Lud of Luden (September 1976), comprised installments 1, 2, and the first half of 3 (Prisoners of War). Numerous misprints and spelling errors.
- 2. Avenging Liafail (October 1976), comprised the last half of installment 3, plus 4 and the first half of 5 (Admiral of Caesar's Fleet). Numerous misprints and spelling errors.
- 3. The Praetor's Dungeon (November 1976), comprised the last half of installment 5, with 6 through 9. Numerous misprints and spelling errors.
- 4. Purple Pirate (January 1977). Order of the novels is misrepresented on the cover. Extremely badly printed (almost unreadable), with ultra fine print, monstrous proof and copy reader's errors, and the usual misprints and spelling errors. An incredibly bad production all round.
- 5. Queen Cleopatra (April 1978). Order of the novels is misrepresented on the cover. The usual stupid errors, but much improved over Purple Pirate.
Zebra Books was hot on series novels and liked to number their Science Fiction and Fantasy books, even if they didn't need numbers (a lamentable trend begun by Pinnacle Books in the late 1960s). Zebra numbered their covers of the Tros series Volume 1 through 5, but got the order of the last two wrong, listing Purple Pirate as vol. 4 and Queen Cleopatra as vol. 5! This must have confused the hell out of the readers to learn that Caesar was dead in Vol. 4, and finally assassinated in Vol. 5. Maybe somebody else will reprint the saga again, and do it right.
- by R.T. Gault
Last Adventurer: The Life of Talbot Mundy by Peter Beresford Ellis is also available from Amazon. This biography may be in short supply. Click here to learn more from Amazon.
Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny by Donald M. Grant is also available from Amazon. This book may be in short supply. Click here to learn more from Amazon.
Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure: A Critical Biography by Brian Taves is also available from Amazon
Winds From the East is a Talbot Mundy reader compiled by Brian Taves. It's available from Amazon.
There are some Tros eBooks available for the Kindle at Amazon, but I don’t know which versions or editions on which they are based.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]