Teo's Reviews > Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade by Rob MacGregor
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Dec 11, 2010

it was ok

With bullwhip in hand, Indiana Jones has gone in search of adventure, confronted danger and unearthed a wealth of ancient treasures. The only thing he hadn’t gotten are good writers to put his chronicles to paper and do justice to his undertakings. Whatever the case, the third part of the film quadrilogy, titled “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, was penned by Rob MacGregor, who later went on to write several other Indy novels.

In “The Last Crusade” Indy faces his most challenging and personal endeavor of his life: rescue his estranged father, the eminent professor Sean Connery… I mean, Henry Jones, Sr., from a Nazi’s lair, and recover the legendary Holy Grail.

To those who read something by MacGregor already, this is vintage MacGregor alright: good pacing, generic writing style lacking eloquence and an average novel as a result. To those who are first time readers, Rob MacGregor generally writes novels that are good enough, but they lack something that would make them a lasting memory after finishing them. The best comparison would be with action B-film: they’re a dime a dozen, all alike, most of them fairly watchable, but nothing you’ll ever think of re-watching. Believe me, I know; I’m a fan of those films.

The book ranges from good to sub-par. Some chapters are exciting; I’m not referring to the plot – because, in theory, the whole thing should be an action packed thrill ride like the film was. I mean the way the book’s written. MacGregor handles it real nice, and then slumps to barely passable. The barely passable bits are mostly the action parts: the Venice boat chase, the battle with and on the tank, etc. MacGregor is really just a small step above James Kahn who novelized Indy’s previous adventure in the Temple of Doom; if you read Kahn, you’ll know this can hardly be considered a compliment.

Lester Dent, a veteran pulp writer and the creator of the legendary Doc Savage said: “DON’T TELL ABOUT IT! Show how the thing looked. This is one of the secrets of writing; never tell the reader – show him.”

If one were to judge “The Last Crusade” by that, it would be a very unpleasant sight, for MacGregor shows you almost nothing. As usual, we get no description of Indy besides the information he wears a fedora, leather jacket and sports a bullwhip and a revolver. Under the clothes is a blank face; I’m aware everyone knows Harrison Ford, but a good writer should tell you how his characters appear, especially the hero. The situation is even worse with Indy’s father, Henry. All you know about the man is older (which is obvious by itself), and that he has a beard and also wears a hat. Sure, Sean has a beard, alright, but so do a million other men. From the description MacGregor gives, all of them could be Indy’s father.

The only characters that are at least remotely described are Dr. Elsa Schneider:

She was an attractive blonde with high cheekbones and a slender figure. Her lapis-colored eyes were bright and intelligent.

And Sallah:

Sallah was a bear of a man with black hair and distinctive Mediterranean features. His rich baritone voice and hearty went a long way toward making Brody feel better, as did his reputation and loyalty. He was known for his fierce dedication to his friends and as a formidable enemy to anyone who opposed them.

Well, it’s not much, but it’s the best you’ll get out of MacGregor. There is no such luck with locations, however. It is as if MacGregor had tried to picture his locations as vaguely as possible. The “accolade” is the episode in Brunwald Castle, Austria. There is not one, not a single word that describes the castle. The paragraph reads that Indy and Elsa are driving through the Austrian Alps toward Brunwald Castle. The end. You fill in the blanks, which is basically all of it.

In all reality, Rob MacGregor is not exactly a bad writer; he’s just extremely average. And consequently, “The Last Crusade” is not that bad, either. But it’s hardly an engaging read as the cover claims it to be. It’s a shame Lucas Books didn’t try harder to find talented people to novelize and later continue with Indy’s adventures. There are loads of great freelance writers who would’ve surely done a better job. Well, we cannot change what is, and what is, is OK and most people will have a good time indeed, blissfully unaware of all the flaws; but those of us who have had the luck to relish in the amazing yarns of writers like Robert E. Howard, will take notice of all the shortcomings and see “The Last Crusade” for what it is – a good, but utterly generic novel soon to be forgotten beneath the dust, just like the ancient artifacts Indy searches for.

Rating: 6/10
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