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JIMGRIM

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Full Name: James Schuyler Grim
Nationality: American
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Talbot Mundy
Time Span: 1921 - 1933

ABOUT THE SERIES

       James Schuyler 'Jimgrim' Grim is a freelance agent.
       That is the best way I have found to describe him though there is plenty of argument for a different case.
       When we initially meet him in the first recorded adventure of him, he is an agent with British Intelligence. It would be more accurate at times to place him with that country's military intelligence wing since it is the British Army that is in control of the area of the world where all of the adventures we have of his man take place; namely the Middle East.
       The most striking aspect of Jimgrim's lengthy tour of duty in that region is that while he holds, when we first meet him, the legitimate rank of Major in the Army, Jimgrim is an American by birth. He first came to the Middle East during the early years of World War I working T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) to help the Arabs throw off the centuries' old Ottoman Empire rule. He then stayed around to help Britain keep control of the reason they 'inherited' after the Ottoman collapse. Jimgrim is approximately 34 years old when we first encounter him.
       A bit later we learn that Jimgrim, as he is known by everyone who has any dealings with him "all over the Near East, Arabia, parts of Africa, and from Dera Isfail Khan to Sikkim", has worked at one time or another for other Intelligence agencies. It is written that he "has served in the Intelligence Departments of at least five nations, always reserving United States citizenship".
       "He speaks a dozen languages so fluently that he can pass himself off as a native; and since he was old enough to build a fire and skin a rabbit the very midst of danger has been his goal, just as most folk spend their lives looking for safety and comfort. When he is what other men would reckon safe, the sheer discomfort of it bores him."
       One fellow who knew Jimgrim well stated that "he is the best friend a man could have, the least talkative, the most considerate; and he seems to have no personal ambition-which, I suppose, is why the world rewarded him with colonelcies that he did not seek and opportunities for self-advancement that he never used. Jimgrim could have had anything he cared to ask for in the way of an administrative post; and, funnily enough, the one thing that he always wanted was denied him. From his youth he wished to be an actor. That he is one of exceeding merit, is beyond dispute; but, except for occasional amateur performances behind the lines of armies, he has never set foot on the stage."
       "He looks as if he were half-Cherokee, although I believe there is only a trace of red man in his ancestry. He has a smile that begins faintly at the corners of his eyes, hesitates there as if to make sure none will be offended by it, and then spreads until his whole face lights with humor, making you realize that he has understood your weakness and compared it with his own. If you have any self-respect at all you can't pick quarrels with a man who takes that view of life; the more he laughs at you, the more you warm toward him, since he is laughing at himself as well as you."
       It is also said of Jimgrim that except when it comes to fulfilling whatever his current mission is, he has no real desire to. He definitely prefers to keep most of his thoughts to himself. "He makes less noise than a panther on a dark night; and I never knew a man less given to persuading you". Even more interesting is the comment "He has one purpose but almost never talks about it".
       "All the news of Asia from Alexandretta to the Persian Gulf and from Northern Turkestan to South Arabia reaches Grim's ears sooner or later. He earns his bread and butter knitting all that mess of cross-grained information into one intelligible pattern; after which he interprets it and acts suddenly without advance notices. Time and again, lone-handed, he has done better than an army corps, by playing chief against chief in a land where the only law is individual interpretation of the Koran."


       Vital to the enjoyment of the adventures of Jimgrim and his friends is an understanding of the Near and Middle East in which the activities take place.
       The time period is just after the end of World War I. The entire area, from all the North African nations to the Levant and Palestine, south to the Arabian Peninsula, is a major hotbed of intrigue and unrest. After such a long time of control by the Turks who, though Moslem, were decidedly not Arab, the majority of the citizenry were of Arab descent and extremely eager for a taste of self-rule, promised them by the English and the French at the end of the Great War. At the same time, according to the author, Zionist Jews were "arriving in droves" into the area in response to a "brand-new mandate from a brand-new League of Nations" dedicated to fulfilling the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to create a country for the Jews. "The Arabs, who owned most of the land, were threatening to cut all the Jews' throats as soon as they could first get all their money." Add to that the newly introduced interests of the Bolsheviks arriving from Moscow with their own needs and plans for the region.
       In such an environment, the need for someone of Jimgrim's skills and tact and determination is vital and the man who obviously loves the excitement and danger that his profession brings with it is very much in his element.
       From the early words of the first recorded adventure of Jimgrim comes an interesting observation of the difference in Turkish and British control of the region: "Turks entirely understood the arts of suppression and extortion, which they defined as government. The British, on the other hand, subject their normal human impulse to be greedy, and their educated craving to be gentlemanly white man's burden-bearers, to a process of compromise. Perhaps that isn't government. But it works. They even carry compromise to the point of not hanging even their critics if they can possibly avoid doing it."


       After a good number of exciting adventures in the Middle East, though, Jimgrim finds his interest waning, apparently, because he is enticed to go walkabout with his friends, accompanying them to other exotic regions though he seems to maintain his authority to a large degree. From Arabia Grim et al will travel through other British controlled lands until they get go the Himalayas. 
       The friends mentioned who accompany Jimgrim places, and sometimes pull him along with their travels are fellow American Jeff Ramsden, Australian adventurer Jeremy Ross, and Jimgrim's ever-present companion, Narayan Singh. eventually they will form a partnership with they dub the 'Jack-of-all-trades Union', engaging in whatever they find interesting: "Exploring expeditions fixed up which you wait. Kings dethroned and national boundaries rearranged to order...Revolutions produced or prevented. Horses swapped. Teeth pulled by the piece or dozen. Everything's contracted for, from flaying whales to raising potatoes on Mount Everest, wholesale jobs preferred".
       Also of interest after some time is Meldrum Strange, said by Ramsden to be "one of the nine richest men in the world". Eventually he will play a large role in the adventures of the group at the time they start to get the wanderlust.


Good Lines:
- "It was difficult to find one line of observation. Whatever anybody told you was reversed entirely by the next man."
- "You can't be 'epic' and not make enemies."
- "An Armenian told me [the Americans operating in Palestine] could skin fleas for their hides and tallow."
- "The Prussians weren't openly rude to anyone they weren't sure they could lick."
- In chess as in government, "your game is not lost as long as your king can move. That's why the men who want to hurry up and start a new political era imprison kings and cut their heads off."
- "Walk wide of the man and particularly of the woman, who makes a noise about lining your pocket or improving your condition."

BOOKS

Number of Books:6
First Appearance:1924
Last Appearance:1933

       In the case of books about the character Jimgrim by Talbot Mundy, the matter seems simple at first but then gets complicated.
       Jimgrim's adventures were all published in the magazine <i>Adventure</i> starting in November of 1921. There were 11 of them ranging a tad in size from novelettes to novellas but each of them fitting into one issue at a time. Then Mundy switched sizes and created the first novel-length adventure, long enough to require serialization over 5 issues of the magazine. A year and a half later he repeated that with a 6-parter and after a similar gap a third novel was released in 1926.
       It was then that he switched gears and came out with the first of his other major (IMHO) set of work, the fantastic Tros of Samothrace and followed by the lesser Ben Quorn series.
       He would return to the activities of Jimgrim and friends in 1930 with first a collection of two of his previously released stories followed at the end of the year with the last full-length novel adventure which came out in book format shortly afterwards. Except for another collection of two previous stories, he would write of Jimgrim no more.
       
       Let pass a very good number of years and then the number of books being released would jump quite a bit. The popularity of Talbot Mundy and his awesome body of work would cause publishers to get interested enough again to release his first set of stories in book form. Some of these books would have either been quite thin or with bigger fonts or lesser amounts on the pages because while it was not that big of a stretch to make a novella look like a book, doing so with a novelette was not so easy.        The titles of these usually Jimgrim and X with the X being the name of the original story.
       I have chosen to not list these re-releases here except to state that they do exist.

1 The Nine Unknown The Nine Unknown
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1924

Originally serialized in 5 issues of Adventure, March 20 - April 30, 1923.
In 260 BC a project started by Emperor Asoka to collect all the knowledge of the world was started. After some time, all that data was collated into nine books of secret lore and nine men were chosen to guard the books. Now a priest named Father Cyprian has convinced Jimgrim and his friends, Ramsden and Ross, to find and bring down the descendants of that group who still hold the nine books.
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2 Om - The Secret Of Ahbor Valley Om - The Secret Of Ahbor Valley
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1924

Originally serialized in 6 issues of Adventure, October 10 - November 30, 1924.
Cottswold Ommony is an adventurer who is determined to find the mystical Ahbor Valley and hopefully learn what happened to his sister-in-law who was said to have disappeared in that area years before. He enlists the aid of Jimgrim and his friends.
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3 The Devil's Guard The Devil's Guard
aka Ramsden
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1924

Originally serialized as Ramsden in 5 issues of Adventure, June 8 - August 8, 1926.
A largely supernatural adventure taking place in Tibet where Jimgrim is accompanying his friend Ramsden and they, along with Chullunder Ghose and Narayan Singh go up against the Black Circle, a cabal of evil Tibetan adepts.
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4 The Hundred Days The Hundred Days
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1930

Collection of novella Mohammed's Tooth and novelette The Woman Ayisha.

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5 Jimgrim Jimgrim
aka Jimgrim Sahib, King of the World
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1931

Originally serialized as King of the World in 7 issues of Adventure, Nov 15, 1930 - Feb 15, 1931.
An evil genius has the ability to create the technology he feels will allow him to take over the world and his has a large cadre of followers willing to help. Jimgrim joins with his friend, Jeff Ramsden, and a new fellow, Robert Crosby, to mount a counteroffensive
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6 Jimgrim And Allah's Peace Jimgrim And Allah's Peace
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1933

Collection of novelette The Adventure of El-Kerak and novella Under the Dome of the Rock.
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NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:15
First Appearance:1921
Last Appearance:1926

       In the early months of 1911 the first known story penned by William Gribbon under his far more recognized pseudonym of Talbot Mundy was released and that would start a very long and impressive string of stories released in popular magazines of the time. The magazine Adventure was by far the most receptive audience for his work and he would hardly let a month go by without a tale seeing print.
       The first year would see 14 stories released. The second would have nearly two dozen tales published, including the first six stories about the first series character he created, a fellow named Bill Blain. I have not checked into him yet but while the first tale has the intriguing title of The Goner, the last two, written a couple years later, would be titled Billy Blain Eats Biscuits and Billy Blain's Onions and Garlic.
       Adventure would see the bulk of his work over the next decade with dozens of stories being produced, including the first couple about the interesting femme fatale Princess Yasmini.
       In November of 1921, nearly 11 years after he started his very successful career as a published storyteller, Mundy would come out with the first of his amazing and highly enjoyable Jimgrim stories. He would continue producing them one a month for the next year (except for June, 1922 - vacation?).
       As fascinating as I find the Jimgrim stories now, Mundy would see his attention shifting elsewhere and in December of 1923 the last in the series would come out.


       It is interesting that the narrator for most of these Jimgrim stories was his close friend and fellow adventurer, Jeff Ramsden. Ramsden, along with another of their small group, Jeremy Ross, would join Grim in some very dangerous escapades but it would be the taciturn Jimgrim who was the true star.

1 The Adventure of El-Kerak The Adventure of El-Kerak
novella
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1921

Published in Adventure, November 10, 1921.
Jimgrim is given the impossible task of finding and stopping the people behind a renewed push by Arabs to expel all British forces from Palestine.
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2 Under The Dome Of The Rock Under The Dome Of The Rock
novelette
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1921

Published in Adventure, December 10, 1921.
Jimgrim is in Jerusalem investigating increased agitation when he discovers a plan by Arab extremists to blow up the Dome of the Rock and place the blame on Zionists in the region, all to bring about a global jihad.
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3 Iblis At Ludd Iblis At Ludd
short story
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, January 10, 1922.
The task for Jimgrim of finding out who took a supply of TNT from an armory in Arabia and to clear the name of the British officer who had been responsible for its safety is make far more difficult by the fact that the officer's superior has already lodged a complaint against Jimgrim and looking for a chance to bring Jimgrim down.
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4 The Seventeen Thieves Of El-Kalil The Seventeen Thieves Of El-Kalil
novella
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, February 20, 1922.
Jimgrim heads to the city of Hebron to head off major trouble as the Moslem people there, incited by a family of thieves, are determined to eliminate the Jewish citizens already living there.
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5 The Lion Of Petra The Lion Of Petra
novella
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, March 20, 1922.
The desert chieftain, Ali Higg, has become a notorious bandit and raider, working out of his impressive stronghold in Petra. Jimgrim puts together a team to take on and bring down this brigand who is causing trouble all over the region.
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6 The Woman Ayisha The Woman Ayisha
short story
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, April 20, 1922.
In what amounts to a continuation of the previous adventure against the Lion of Petra, this tale deals with Jimgrim's relationship with the beautiful and mysterious woman, Ayisha, second wife of the Lion. It also details the effort that Jimgrim and company must make to tackle a Sheikh from the south and his 800 men who want to replace the Lion for his own brand of banditry.

7 The Lost Trooper The Lost Trooper
short story
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, May 30, 1922.
An Australian named Jeremy Ross gets involved in a complicated affair regarding a gold mine deep in the Trans-Jordan region. This will in turn pull in Jimgrim and friends as the control of the mine falls into argument and Jimgrim must find a solution.

8 The King In Check The King In Check
short story
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, July 10, 1922.
During WWI the French promised, in exchange for help against the Ottomans, that King Feisal of the Arabs would be made ruler of all of what is now Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. Now they are reneging and Feisal is up in arms. To aid their ends, the French have forged an order from him calling for the massacre of all Jews in Jerusalem. Jimgrim is determined to stop the bloodshed as well as the campaign against Feisal.
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9 A Secret Society A Secret Society
short story
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, August 10, 1922.
Jimgrim sees the need to take on a gang of criminals that he is certain pose a huge threat to the tenuous peace in the Middle East. To go after them, however, he must first retire from his position with the British and then ask for the help of his three friends, Ramsden, Ross, and Singh.
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10 Moses And Mrs. Aintree Moses And Mrs. Aintree
novella
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, September 10, 1922.
Jimgrim sends a cablegram to his friend, Jeff Ramsden, to meet two fellows named Brice and Allison on a boat just coming into New York. They are in search of evidence of the real life and times of the prophet Moses and the trek will take them all over North America. It will also put them into contact with and likely conflict with Mrs. Isobel Aintree, a female evangelist with some strong ideas of her own.
Note: Jimgrim is not really involved in this adventure other than the introduction.
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11 Khufu's Real Tomb Khufu's Real Tomb
short story
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1922

Published in Adventure, October 10, 1922.
Jimgrim, along with his friend Ramsden and an intrepid woman named Joan Angela Leich, are determined to follow clues they have obtained, along with the services of a Chinese mathematician, to find the true tomb of the pharaoh, Khufu. Others would like to stop them.
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12 The Marriage Of Meldrum Strange The Marriage Of Meldrum Strange
novella
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1923

Published in Adventure, October 10, 1923.
Not a Jimgrim adventure per se, though he is mentioned a couple of times in it. His very good friend Jeff Ramsden does play a major role in a story dealing with billionaire Meldrum Strange. This man, who finances a good number of the latter adventures of Jimgrim and friends, is getting married but controversy and the danger associated with that event are many.

13 Mohammed's Tooth Mohammed's Tooth
novella
Written by Talbot Mundy
Copyright: 1923

Published in Adventure, December 10, 1923.
Jeff Ramsden is kidnapped along with an American girl in the war-torn region of northern India. To get them both back, Jimgrim and friends join with Athelstan King, aka the King of the Khyber Rifles. The ransom demand plays a major role in the adventure.

MY COMMENTS

       My first introduction into the wondrous worlds created by Talbot Mundy came in the mid 70's with the exciting Greek adventurer and enemy of Julius Caesar, Tros of Samothrace. I was hooked on the thrilling breadth of these stories and followed the man willingly from Greece all the way to Britain and then back south to Spain and on to Rome itself. I loved it!
       However, had I known that the coming into existence of Tros would also coincide with the end of the Jimgrim tales, which I would not learn of for several years, I might not have appreciated him so much. (Nah! I still have a great fondness for the dashing warrior.)
       I have read a couple of reviews over the years that criticize Mundy for being wordy. I would agree (even if in my case this is a kettle-pot situation) but my goodness! The quality of those words are fantastic. Whether it was because the writer was naturally loquacious or because he might have been paid by the word, Mundy's prose always came across to me as music for my eyes.
       Having read a good amount of, but not all yet, of Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure, a critical biography of the author by Brian Taves, I think the author's adventures were nearly as interesting as those of his creations. He was "colorful", as the saying goes. He may even have been quite a scoundrel in his day. But man, that chap could write!

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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