The Green Master” by Kenneth Robeson

In a secret fortress high in the Andes, Doc and his crew are enslaved by a race of extrasensory super-blondes who worship a green stone with a life of its own!

In this Doc Savage novel, Doc and his aides Ham and Monk face a race of beings with the power to influence anyone they meet, and who are in New York with a mission that brings them into conflict the the Man of Bronze!

Description: Monk is being tailed, rather clumsily, but three men and one woman, all tall with blonde hair. Their appearance and way they seemed uncertain of moving in the bustling city of New York made them stand out, especially to Monk’s well-honed perception. But when he managed to corner one of them, he got a shock: he found himself agreeing to everything the man said!

You were following me.” …

The man looked Monk straight in the eye.

I was not following you.”

You –” Monk’s mouth came open, and remained open. Not because he had been lied to. That wasn’t what surprised him. It was something else.

It was another thing, and the more Monk thought about it, the more stunned be became. Monk realized that he believed the man wasn’t following him.

Now here, Monk thought wildly, is an impossibility. This guy was trailing me. There was another doing it before him, and a girl before that. They were teamed up, and they were trailing me. I’ve got eyes, I saw. But now the funny looking guy tells me a bald-faced lie and I believe it.

The moment Monk is able, he gets as far away from them as possible, heading to tell Doc all about the encounter. Soon he, Doc and Monk’s least favorite of their fellow assistants, Ham, are caught up tracking down these mysterious super-blondes until he, too, is captured by them and their mysterious power. Yes, even the great Doc Savage with a mind and will as strong as his body, is unable to resist the effects of their powers.

 There wasn’t any doubt of it. He had been curious about the physical sensations which would accompany the production of the influence — influence wold be the only lay word he was prepared to apply to it, although it was certainly an inadequate one — and he was discovering that there was very little physical commotion. The same thing couldn’ t be said for his mind. There was definitely an effect. Strange, unexpected, it was hard to define; in some respects it resembled the effect of certain anesthetics. It was, of course. intangible, in the sense that it couldn’t be seen. He felt, generally summing up, quite helpless. He knew fully, of course, that he didn’t want to be influenced. But he was powerless.

Doc knew one thing now. The resemblance this stuff bore to hypnotism was damned small. No one, as faras Doc knew, had been able to induce any state of hypnotic trance as definitely complete that the victim would perform any act completely against his nature. True, hypnotic operators sometimes grinned knowingly and said that, if a hypnotic subject had ever been induced to commit a robbery or murder, who would hear about it? The subject wouldn’t know what he had done, probably. And the operator wouldn’t risk getting jailed. But Doc himself, in his experiments, had found quite well-defined limitations to hypnosis.

Granted, it takes a supreme effort on the part of his captor to keep Doc under control, but its enough to last until Doc and company are back in the Andes. Which is where they are needed: the super-blondes civilization has existed for hundreds of years without discovery, yet now an outsider has learned not only of its existence and its treasures, he has also obtained one of the green stones that negates the powers of the super-blondes on whomever carries them. Once these stones were held only by select members of the civilization but now outsiders hold several of them, who are commanding a force that seeks to gain the treasure(s) that are held within the civilization’s remote Andean home. Now that Doc Savage is present, though, whatever plans made by the unknown assailants (who are never really seen or identified) will be defeated.

And the Green Master? Despite the flavor text, its actually a green stone of mysterious origin and powers, but it does have the ability to block the power the super-blondes possess. That’s one of the unexplored mysteries of the story.

Commentary: For all that the set up for the action is pretty good, the conclusion leaves a lot to be desired. The ultimate resolution of bringing in a group of outsiders, even if they are protected by the green stones, to handle the situation is still asking for trouble, and its certainly not the way Doc would have handled the situation in earlier years. Of course, this is one of the last Doc Savage novels written (published Winter, 1949) so it does indicate that the series was showing signs of aging, or maybe the author was finally getting tired of writing.

Plus there was only the perfunctory attempt at arm-waving to explain the origin of the powers the super-blondes possessed, and no attempt to explain how it was passed down from the originator, how the “green stone” with the mysterious properties was discovered, even how their civilization began or managed to exist, undiscovered for so long. Even the outsider who threatened the Andean hidden civilization wasn’t identified or even seen, let alone much of the rest of invading forces. So many loose ends and neglected avenues here …

History: “The Green Master” was one of the last Doc Savage novels written for the original series and is rather short, certainly shorter than the full-length novel as its predecessors. It has been reprinted in #47 of the reprint series and in the Doc Savage Omnibus series #13.

Recommendation: Not particularly recommended except for a demonstration of missed opportunities and loose ends. Kenneth Robeson has done the hypnotic mind control plot line better in the past, such as “The Majii” or “The Mental Wizard” although this time the people using it are a little better at using it, but the stories mentioned here are much longer and better at explaining how it was done or accomplished.

[amtap book:isbn=1608770516]


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