Friday, February 3, 2012

Forgotten Novels: The Rogue by Richard Sale

Richard Sale has been called “the Dumas of the pulps,” because he’s said to have written over 400 stories, in addition to the eleven novels published in book form.

I don’t know who coined that Dumas phrase, and don’t know if that person was aware of “The Rogue,” but this is where Sale really gets his Dumas on. The homage to The Three Musketeers is obvious - and extensive - resulting in a great historical adventure novel.

Publishers take note: As far as I know, this is the only Sale novel never collected in book form, and it’s high time it happened. The story ran as a 5-part serial in Argosy, from June 11 to July 9, 1938, making it a tough get for Sale fans today.

The Rogue of the story is John Hamilton, second son of a wealthy Virginia family, who’s built a reputation as a quick blade and an ardent lover. It’s 1781, and the War of the Revolution has gone along pretty much without him. But now Cornwallis is holed up at Yorktown, and George Washington and his French allies are gearing up for a siege that could end the war. And John Hamilton, the Rogue, finds himself in possession of the battle plans that win - or lose - the whole shebang.

Early on, Hamilton teams up with a long-nosed French agent named Du Maurier, who fills the role of the three musketeers. Du Maurier, like d’Artagnan is a proud Gascon, and Hamilton - lo and behold - learned his swordsmanship from a Gascon master, so the two hit it off famously. The role of the evil but lovely Milady de Winter is played by a female viper and British agent called Milady Desmond.

Then come the plot parallels. Early in The Three Musketeers, d’Artagnan has a tussle with one the Cardinal’s agents, and spends the rest the rest of the book itching for a showdown. Same thing here, with Hamilton repeatedly crossing swords with a cunning British spy. One long sequence in Musketeers finds the four friends (and their servants) riding across France take a message to Lord Buckingham in London. Each time they’re attacked by the Cardinal’s guards, someone is wounded or purposely stays behind as a rearguard. In “The Rogue,” our two friends (and their servants), in the company of a coonskin-capped frontiersman, race across Virginia to deliver the battle plans to Lafayette, with British agents picking them off one at a time.

Well, guess what? The plans get through and the American/French forces prevail. But you knew that already. The fun of the “The Rogue” is seeing how Hamilton & friends - and pulpmeister Richard Sale - contrive to pull it off.

For reviews of Sale’s earlier novels, two complete pulp stories, and other cool Sale stuff, click HERE.

And for this week’s fine lineup of other Forgotten Books, visit pattinase.


Charles Gramlich said...

You know, that's probably something I'd enjoy. I've never read anything by Sale.

Anonymous said...

Cool! Looks like one I'd enjoy for sure.

Deka Black said...

Seems a pretty good version ^^

ASnd... you made me think about the huge amount of american remakes of french films. I thinlk this could be a very early example.

George said...

You can't go wrong with anything written by Richard Sale!

Monte Herridge said...

Richard Sale is an excellent writer. Just read stories from two of his series that appeared in Detective Fiction Weekly - the Candid Jones series (19 stories), and the Daffy Dill series (59 stories). Hopefully they will be gathered into books collecting the series stories.

elcastillo said...

Great blog man! Visiting from Mexico. I love pulps as well and wanted to know a way to blog about the mags without been completely spoiler of the story.

The way you write about them gave me some light in this conundrum.

Thanks and keep the great pulps reviews going!