Menaced by “the strange clicking danger,” Doc Savage and his fabulous five-man army take a desperate journey on a polar submarine in search of a missing ocean liner and a dazzling treasure. Their only clue is a map tattooed on the back of a blind violinist. Awaiting them at their destination is the most terrible killer the Arctic has ever known.
Special note: we propose that Frank McCarthy painted the Bantam cover for The Polar Treasure.
18 thoughts on “The Polar Treasure”
In tribute to the Doc Savage series and the genre, in the Year 2000 MENSA BULLETIN High IQ Society poll of best books of the 20th century, I voted for DOC SAVAGE: THE POLAR TREASURE as the century’s number three rated work of fiction. I realize that this means many literature lovers believed that I was making a joke of the poll, but that was not the case. A Doc Savage reprint that my grandmother gave me in 1965 was not the first book I read, but it was the first book that I owned. As a child I loved, and now as a grandfather I love, the Doc Savage series. I am grateful that the Doc Savage adventures inspired me to read more broadly.
Maybe thirty or forty years from now in a similar poll a reader will vote for a “Harry Potter” book as being one of the best of the 21st century. We understand that “Doc Savage” and “Harry Potter” and similar works are not great literature, but we loved reading and re-reading them and perhaps they inspired us in our youth to later read great literature.
For its genre, I do rank THE POLAR TREASURE as being as great as any work of pulp fiction, Doc Savage series or other.
As for this particular novel, on an expedition to attempt to discover what happened to missing persons, Doc is deliberately stranded alone — except for a Polar Bear that wants to kill him — on an ice floe near the North Pole. His only hope of returning to civilization is to locate and board the submarine occupied by the crew that standed him and wants him dead. Doc has reason to believe that some or all of his own crew are dead. Things look as hopeless as in any story I have ever read. But Doc, through his own efforts (no surprise to Doc readers), survives, rescues the missing persons, and sees that justice is done. Bravo Lester Dent (Kenneth Robeson); job well done.
Doc in the artic! Always a treat! And searching for “fifty millions in gold and diamonds” has never been so much fun. I love the character names in this one: Keelhaul deRosa, Ben O’Gard and of course who could forget the Helldiver, the best name for a submarine ever. Great action and convuluted plot. I recommend this one.
I am pretty sure this was the first Doc book I ever read, at about the age of 12 or so. Reading it again 25 years later, I enjoyed it even more. Doc’s sheer brutality is a bit disconcerting in these early books, but The Polar Treasure is a classic adventure. The only complaint I really have with this book is about Doc’s fight with the polar bear. Stopped the whole flow of the book for a few seconds because I was shaking my head and mumbling, “NO WAY!” just a little to unbeleivable, even for Doc. Barehands? No way. But who cares… If he can dodge bullets, why should a massive polar bear be much more than a minor nuisance? I got over it pretty quick, and got back to enjoying one of the best Doc stories.
My all time favorite Doc adventure. I won’t even reread it because it is my most cherished memory of the series and I don’t want to spoil it! This one had everything–epic adventure, eerie menace, and even a great love story.
Utterly weird and utterly memorable!
What is it about the Doc Savage books between 1933-1934 that make them so much fun to read? All I know of the Docs of that era, this one ranks up there with the best of them between having Doc and the boys caught between Ben O’Gard and Keelhaul DeRosa, to the introduction of the Helldiver, to Doc’s epic battle with the polar bear, this one has it all.
I couldn’t agree more with the comments already posted. This is the finest and most exciting of the five Doc Savage books I’ve read to date — not enough for me to make sweeping generalizations about the series, I agree, but I can’t imagine the series offering many more stories that so perfectly combine a sprawling cast of characters, and distill so much essence of exotic scenery, adventure and suspense. This one has it all: Doc thwarting an abduction in the city, a treasure map tattooed to a blind man’s back (a virtuoso violinist, no less!), aerial dogfights, death traps under the ocean and fights for survival atop glaciers! The polar bear episode is actually very short, and not entirely implausible in that Doc’s success in the contest involves his knowledge of pressure points rather than superior strength. I was impressed by Dent’s hilarious, meticulous descriptions of the rock ’em sock ’em fistfights between Doc, Monk and the submarine captain (who may not be who he seems to be). You could not pick a better Doc Savage book to start with.
This is one of the very best Doc Savage novels written and it has one of the best (and scariest) Bantam covers ever. I’ve lent this book to several people throughout the years and they’ve felt the same way. Doc is never better; his aides are never better and the fights are never better. Doc really shines in this book as does the “mystery” and the map Victor Vail carries around with him. And, finally, I always thought that if Doc was to marry one of his heroines it would be Roxy Vail in this adventure. I was fourteen when I first read it and I’ve read it several times since 1967. It’s just the novel to introduce Doc to an unwary reader and I think it’s one of the best examples of “pulp” writing ever produced (echoing what others have said).
This was the first Doc I ever read, back in 1966. It’s not quite one of my favorites, but is certainly one of the best of the 1933 Docs, and a solid adventure that holds up fairly well today. Of course there are the racist caricatures of Inuits, but this is to be expected from pulp fiction of this era.
Dent describes the arctic setting effectively enough, and even manages to tie a mystery into the plot that isn’t completely obvious.
This one is also notable for being one of the rare stories where Monk takes a beating. Fortunately, Ham isn’t there to witness this.
By far one of my favorites, this one has all the earmarks of a great pulp novel. The invisible map tattoed onto the back of the blind Victor Vail is sheer genius in my opinion. An excellent ending as the group races across the frozen wasteland to the Helldiver.
This is 122 pages of sheer delight. There’s nothing quite as fun as Lester Dent running on all pistons. I agree completely with Steve above
This is what Doc Savage is all about! High adventure in the best sense of the word. Lots of action. The fight with the polar bear should’ve been longer!
What a marvelous adventure! Dent hits his stride in this 4th installment of the Doc saga.
THE POLAR TREASURE would make an excellent Doc movie.
Doc killing a polar bear with his hands is entirely believable, given his physical skills and knowledge of anatomy. Dent pulled it off well.
Interestingly, for the 2nd printing and beyond, Bantam zoomed in on the original painting, making the bear and Doc bigger, obscuring more of the logo, and showing less of the treasure.
I’ve read many Doc Savage adventures over the years and this one was quite enjoyable. But there are several things that bother me about this book. The first the sheer number of “he’s dead! Oh wait, no he’s not” moments. All of these characters have these moments: Victor Vail, his wife and daugher, Ben O-Gaurd, Monk and Renny (Twice each!), and the rest of the fantastic five. It got little monotonous. Second, I though Doc and crew had an oath against killing- but they are dealing death left and right in this book. No mercy bullets to be found. I’m confused! Lastly, there are a couple of careless errors. Victor Vail is said to have gotten his vision “back”. But it was stated earlier that he was born blind. And Doc says they will search for Monk and Ham’s bodies. But it’s Monk and Renny that have gone missing. Ham is standing right there. Still, I enjoyed this book. Nice action and great humor. Especially the way Ham gets Monk and the Captain to fight.
I just finished reading this one and rank it among the vbest of the series I’ve read so far… I’ve been purchasing the books as I find them and am reading them out of order, and like an earlier comment, find the earlier Doc more brutal than he seemed later on, but very enjoyable.
Just found this one today, actually. From what I’ve read of it so far, it’s shaping up to be an excellent story. Dent was at the top of his form between the years 1933 – 36; his building up of the Doc Savage mythos remains, I believe, one of the major achievements in pulp-hero history. You can actually believe that one man can gain mastery of a number of disciplines to the extent that he is the world’s greatest expert in each, you can readily accept that one man can possess the strength of ten and do the physical stunts that Doc performs! Now, I’m eagerly awaiting the famous fight between the man of bronze and the polar bear! If this novel lives up to it’s early promise, it’ll definitely earn 5 stars from me!
Boy, what an exciting adventure! This is one of my favorite Doc Stories to date (I only have a handful under my belt as of yet). The wonderful thing about this book is the way Dent pulls you into the arctic, and you can feel the icy chill as Doc and his men struggle against nature and very difficult human opponents. The motion of the story never stops, and, as you would hope, everything turns out amazingly well. Excellent!
Whoops! Forgot to check back! I finished the story — and am not entirely sure how to define it. It was an excellent yarn, started in the usual
incomparable Dent manner… but the second half was a beautifully understated masterpiece. Not the usual slam-bang finish one expects from the series at this time. I won’t go into details here, as others will be wanting to enjoy it, but I do want to say that the scene where Doc goes one-on-one with the polar bear is well worth the price of admission! 4 stars.