008 04/33 The Land of Terror

Chuck Welch
April 17, 1993 - 1933 / Bantam 001-012 / baumhofer / nanovic / novel / pulp / rosa

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A vile greenish vapor was all that remained of the first victim of the monstrous Smoke of Eternity. There would be thousands more if Kar, master fiend, had his evil way. Only Doc Savage and his mighty five could stop him. But the corpse-laden trail led to mortal combat with the fiercest killing machines ever invented by nature.

Comments

  1. Tim Jones says:

    This was one of my first reads many years ago. This is the Doc that doesn’t neccessarily
    mind the bad guy getting his just rewards. Dent also gives explicit detail to the demise.

  2. Andrew Salmon says:

    I enjoyed this Doc. It did have a few flaws but being the only the second in the series, it’s not fair to judge it by what came later. In a nutshell it was Doc a la Edgar Rice Burroughs. The scenes of giant t-rexes hopping around like bunnies and giant tree-gnawing beavers are a real hoot and it’s fun to wallow in the scientific inaccuracies. All make this one deliciously pulpy. Not a great Doc but a fun one.

  3. Barry Ellis says:

    This is one of my very favorite Doc stories. I remember being blown away by the “violent Doc” portrayed in this tale when I first read it as a youth some 30 years ago. I had already read quite a few Bantams before I got to this one so was quite surprized by Doc’s “philosophy” towards criminals in comparison to those other stories I had already read. Of course, in retrospect, Doc had slain deserving miscreants in “The Man Of Bronze” but those slayings seemed to have not made a conscious impression on my appreciation of the mythos of Doc Savage, probably precisely because those dastards were SO deserving of their fates! ‘The Land Of Terror’ was Doc’s 2nd “recorded” adventure and contains so many of the elements that I enjoy in a Doc story, the dinosaurs in a “lost world”, Doc’s ultra-human characteristics emphasized, prominent characterization of the Fab Five and the GANGSTERS!! (I just LOVE gangsters in the Doc stories). This is by far the story in which Doc was the most violent (after the 3rd tale, ‘Quest Of The Spider’, Doc had curtailed his homicidal tendencies). I always “explained” Doc’s behavior in this story as being due to the callous murder of his mentor coming so close on the heels of the murder of his father. Doc was just coming to grips with that death and all its ramifications and was just beginning to realize just HOW great his responsibilites and the expectations of him now were. In other words, Clark Jr. was a wee-bit stressed out! By the end of the events in ‘Quest Of The Spider’, I like to think Doc had done some serious soul-searching and now had insight into his violent behavior, essentially that he was behaving in no more moral a fashion than those he opposed. Which led him to adopt the unflenching moral code that he would follow for the rest of his career. Regardless of my interjected philosophizing, ‘The Land Of Terror’ is a rip-snorting good pulp-read! Fast paced and scads of fun!

  4. Scott Kimball says:

    I liked this one, especially the last half when they are on Thunder Island. But as others have pointed out, Doc had yet to develop his “no kill” philosophy in these early books. Snapping necks left and right, blowing thugs away without second thought… not the Doc I had come to love. But I give him credit, he grew out of this phase, without losing any action or excitement.

  5. The opening chapters are great, very heroic and a bit gruesome. Once they got to Thunder Island things get a bit dicey and I recall actually being annoyed with Doc for blowing up the last of the dinos when I first read it. But I loved the leap straight up over the fence and the bronze man’s early fierceness.

  6. Jim Nagy says:

    I just starting re-reading my paperback collection of Doc Savage books after about 20 years since my initial exposure. The Land of Terror is listed as #8 in my Bantam Series and definely must have been written when the Kenneth Robeson that authored this adventure was in a get even mood, since Doc handed out a ton of instant justice to the bad guys. I’m enjoying my rediscovery of Doc Savage and glad I found this website.

  7. Todd Pence says:

    At some 57,000 words, The Land of Terror is the longest of all Doc Savage novels (at least among the original pulp stories) and certainly one of the best and most essential. Another great adventure novel, utilizing the old tried and true device of a lost prehistoric world. But that aspect is only part of the adventure, which introduces one of the greatest of Doc’s early villians. Another pulp masterpiece by Dent. As classic as the first tale is, this one does its best to outdo it. Greeat stuff!!

  8. WARNING: Spoiler near the end.
    Until the last three pages, this is an excellent Doc adventure.
    I loved the scenes on Thunder Island, especially the giant beavers. Renny’s solo adventure was a hoot, and his escape from the dinosaur battle was ingenious; definitely one of Col. Renwick’s finest moments. The gang also met a bunch of pterosaurs, a tyrannosaur, and a creodont. Who could ask for more?
    The New York scenes were very good, too. I liked the way Doc freed Monk from the death trap; Dent gave him a very plausible reason for going back to the Jolly Roger. I liked the simplicity of the way the gang hid the gold and the way Doc foiled the bank’s play for publicity. I also liked the way the good guys and the gangsters kept going back to the Jolly Roger for more confrontations.
    Doc’s final confrontation with Kar was one of the most intense of the series because of Doc’s sense of betrayal. To me, the only scenes that are comparable are Doc’s conversation with John Sunlight in “The Devil Genghis” and his interrogation of the suicidal Japanese prisoner in “The Screaming Man.”
    HOWEVER, I don’t like the destruction of Thunder Island. I can see why Doc wanted to keep The Smoke of Eternity a secret, but the mature Doc would never have destroyed such a scientific treasure. The ending was a definite minus to the book, but I shouldn’t be too hard. Dent was still trying to find his voice.

  9. Tim Lucas says:

    This novel was first published in April 1933, short weeks after KING KONG first hit movie theater screens. Thus, it was written before dinosaurs were both seen AND HEARD in the movies, because KONG was the earliest sound movie to feature them.

    While reading THE LAND OF TERROR, I found myself enjoying the unbridled imagination of Dent’s prose about Doc’s encounter with live dinosaurs: the sound of them, the awe of them, the smell of them. The writing is so vivid that it made me think that the power of the movies has impeded our ability to imagine these majestic and monstrous creatures of the past for ourselves.

    As other commentators have mentioned, this is a dark and often violent book — one might say uncharacteristically so — but it’s fairly riveting and a pleasurable read, regardless. My only complaint is that the villain is far too easy to pick out of the limited cast of characters. Fortunately, Doc follows the revelation of his identity with a list of reasons why he long suspected him (but kept the suspicions to himself). Had Doc not done this, one would have closed the book thinking him appallingly stupid… Unfortunately, none of the Fabulous Five caught on, but that’s why they keep Doc around, right?

  10. Walter Carlisle says:

    Second installment in the series is even better than the first, with plenty of action and a Lost World finale. What’s interesting in this one is Doc’s, er, savagery. The mercy bullets haven’t been introduced yet, and Doc ruthlessly kills most of the criminals he encounters without batting a bronze eyelid. Monk’s knockout gas was introduced in the first story but there’s no good place to use it here. I’m so used to my memories of Doc using the mercy bullets and shipping all his foes off to the crime college that it’s quite a change of pace to see him behave more like a modern action hero than the Puritanical Boy Scout of the pulps.

    I wonder why Bantam didn’t simply reprint the series in the original order. It’s more fun to read them that way and see how Dent’s concepts developed.

  11. Paul Cook says:

    This novel really takes up the promise of Doc Savage only hinted at in The Man of Bronze. Doc is stronger, faster (keeping up with a speeding car) and VERY strong (leaping a six foot fence with hardly any effort at all). It is also a great “lost world” novel with a terrific menace involved. I’m not a fan of the Bantam cover, but the pulp cover is really quite good. This is one of the best Doc novels of all.

  12. Lee Dorrance says:

    An excellent read. As mentioned by previous posters, Doc remains somewhat fierce in his disposing of some of the bad guys, but after dealing with a T-rex and giant beavers, anyone could estimate that Doc was having a bad day. I particularly enjoyed the implementation of the Smoke of Eternity by Kar an his followers. This deadly gas seemed to take on a life of it’s own in the book, almost becoming another character at Dent’s disposal.

  13. Richard Cording says:

    This is, as mentioned above, one of the best of the early Docs. However, that being said, it also contains one of Dent’s most glaring errors of fact. He sets this yarn on an island off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand ( My home country), and, although published and set in 1933, he has Doc and his men met by native Maoris in their canoes. Unfortunately for Dent, by 1933 Maoris did not live in grass huts on the Auckland shoreline ( as the story states) but in modern houses which constituted Auckland City. Grass huts and wild Maoris had sort of gone the way of all historical flesh the previous century. A very curious howler for a writer who was normally better informed when it came to the geographical settings for his tales. That aside, howevever, I still think this one of the BEST villian-unsuspected stories of the whole series. The true identity of Kar– WOW!!!

  14. Richard Cording says:

    This is, as mentioned above, one of the best of the early Docs. However, that being said, it also contains one of Dent’s most glaring errors of fact. He sets this yarn on an island off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand ( My home country), and, although published and set in 1933, he has Doc and his men met by native Maoris in their canoes. Unfortunately for Dent, by 1933 Maoris did not live in grass huts on the Auckland shoreline ( as the story states) but in modern houses which constituted Auckland City. Grass huts and wild Maoris had sort of gone the way of all historical flesh the previous century. A very curious howler for a writer who was normally better informed when it came to the geographical settings for his tales. That aside, howevever, I still think this one of the BEST villian-unsuspected stories of the whole series. The true identity of Kar– WOW!!!

  15. Heather O'Neill says:

    I have read this book twice since I got it a month ago and I LOVE it. I mean a weapon that even Doc was in all reality helpless against. A enemy that managed to fool Doc throughout most of the book. I really liked the more human side to Doc and I could almost imagine his anger when he learned who the villan truly was. Renny’s ride on the triceratops was funny as all get out. I read that part to my brother ” who knows dinosaurs inside and out, as it were” and it was about ten miniutes before I could get him to stop laughing. Definatily one of the top five greatest Doc’s EVER.

  16. Henry Hueffed says:

    This is the Doc Savage book that I give to unbelievers and it works every time. Try it as an experiment and see what happens. If anyone is ever skeptical of the crime fighting ability of Doc Savage or they simply ask you who Doc Savage is I just hand them “The Land of Terror” and presto they instantly become a Doc Savage fan – works every time. Also in response to the person who was critical of Dent’s anthropologic research on the Maoris, he forgot to mention the most glaring mistake of all – the dinosaurs were extinct off the coast of New Zealand at that time too! (Touche’)

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