Reading Guide to the Indiana Jones Novels: From Martin Caidin to Steve Perry

A total of thirteen novels were written that tie into the Indiana Jones franchise of films. Each feature the titular archaeologist Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr., on some adventure. The first six novels were all written by Rob MacGregor and are largely linked through key characters such as Indy's first wife, Deirdre Campbell, and his university flatmate-turned-Chicago-nightclub-owner, Jack Shannon. In other words, there is a feeling of continuity between them, although none of them acknowledge events depicted in the television series, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, which aired in 1992 and 1993.

Indiana Jones And The Sky Pirates

Martin Caidin took up the mantel from MacGregor with the seventh book in the series, Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates, set in 1930. He tried his best to link his film to the ones that came before it, including a cameo by Jack and mentioning Deirdre at one point. That being said, Sky Pirates is by far the least Indiana Jones book of the thirteen novels. A group of mysterious aerial raiders are attacking airplanes and ships across the world and Indy is tasked to trick them into revealing their home base. Along for the ride are a number of new friends and colleagues, including a new potential flame, Gale Parker. Caidin reveals his expert knowledge of 1920s-era aircraft throughout the story, but Indiana Jones is often relegated to a rather stereotypical adventurer role, losing much of what makes him interesting as a character.

Indiana Jones And The White Witch

Caidin follows up his first book with Indiana Jones and the White Witch, which takes place just a few months after the end of Sky Pirates. Jones has returned with Gale Parker to her home village in England, where it is revealed that Parker is a Wiccan from a long-secluded community hidden deep in the New Forest. Caidin pulls together several different myths related to Merlin and King Arthur's sword Caliburn, although he largely ignores MacGregor's stories on the same topic favouring instead a new backstory to explain Indy's interest in Arthurian legend. Nonetheless, this story feels much more like a proper Indiana Jones adventure and acts as a good continuation of Sky Pirates. It also serves as Caidin's last book in the series.

Caidin became ill soon after completing the book and was forced to pass the torch on to Max McCoy. Caidin died in 1997 but his legacy has lived on through his novel Cyborg, which became the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man (six films 1973, 1987-1994; television series 1974-1978) and its sequel, The Bionic Woman (television series 1976-1978, 2007).

Max McCoy ended the original run of Indiana Jones novels with four entries that take place chronologically much closer to the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which is set in 1935). Unfortunately, he didn't do much homework regarding MacGregor's and Caidin's books, so his novels rarely reference anything that came before. McCoy is an award-winning journalist and writer who has written roughly two dozen novels, most of which focus on paranormal mysteries. Four Westerns by McCoy are also available from the library. His Indiana Jones novels, unsurprisingly, focus on some of the other-worldly aspects of Indy's research, although all of them are probably the best books in the entire thirteen book series.

Indiana Jones And The Philosopher's Stone

McCoy's first entry is an exciting adventure that begins in a Mayan temple in Belize and ends in a Greco-Egyptian temple in the Libyan desert, and is set in the early half of 1933. The Philosopher's Stone proves to be a very quick read, filled with adventure, hints of romance, deadly peril, and everything that makes a classic Indiana Jones adventure worth enjoying. He also gets to punch a few fascists (who punch him back in turn). Also, you get a bit of history about the alchemical device known as the Philosopher's Stone, later made famous by Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Finally, McCoy introduces in this book a long-running plot device that appears in all his books: a crystal skull. If that sounds familiar, it's because a similar device appears in the 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The real question is, who thought of the crystal skull first: McCoy or George Lucas? Either way, this is one of the best Indiana Jones novels of the thirteen and well worth a read.

Indiana Jones And The Dinosaur Eggs

Set only months after the previous instalment, The Dinosaur Eggs explores the possibility that a small population of triceratops still live somewhere deep in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Join Indy and his new friends Sister Joan, Walter Granger, and Wu Han as they fight Mongolian raiders and confront Soviet agents in their quest to find Joan's father and the dinosaurs that he spent his entire life searching for. But watch out! Assassins and spies are everywhere and the curse of the crystal skull still hangs heavily over Indy. This is yet another great adventure in the Indiana Jones saga.

Indiana Jones And The Hollow Earth

It's only a few months later and Indy is still searching for the crystal skull that will free him from his curse, thus allowing him to finally get together with his beloved Alecia Dunstin. The only problem is that Alecia is kidnapped by a bunch of Nazis who are looking for the mystical Thune stone that may reveal a secret civilisation hidden under the North Pole. Join Indy and his new band of friends as they seek out this hidden world and try to rescue Indy's lost love.

Indiana Jones And The Secret Of The Sphinx

Recovering from his last adventure, Indiana Jones heads to China to excavate the tomb of the first emperor, Shi Huangdi, but Japanese soldiers discover his unsanctioned dig and pursuit begins! Indy is on the run throughout this story with two new recruits in tow: the magician Faye Maskelyne and her daughter, Mystery. But the Maskelynes are on their own adventure to find Faye's missing husband who was searching for the Staff of Aaron, Moses's mystical staff from the book of Exodus. Will the Maskelynes find the staff and rescue their lost family member? Will Indy escape his Japanese pursuers? And will he finally end the curse of the crystal skull? This final book by Max McCoy is epic adventure at its best and it leads directly into Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Over a decade after Max McCoy penned his last entry in the Indiana Jones book series, a novelization of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, written by James Rollins, appeared on shelves. It included some additional context and details from the film but was otherwise unremarkable. A few months later, a new book by Steve Perry arrived. Knowledge of four films, twelve novels, several comics and video games, and twenty-two feature-length Young Indiana Jones episodes made an impact on Perry's sole entry, Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead.

Indiana Jones And The Army Of The Dead

World War II is in full swing and Indiana Jones has returned as a spy for the Allies. When he discovers that the Nazis are on the hunt for an artefact called the Heart of Darkness that can raise the dead, Indy knows that he must get to the relic first and stop an Axis victory. But voodoo curses, zombie legends, a Haitian witch doctor, and all the normal traps and tricks stand in the way of victory and a world conquered by the undead. Think Game of Thrones meets Indiana Jones in this final Indiana Jones adventure.

Although at least one more book in the Indiana Jones novel series was planned, it was cancelled soon after The Army of the Dead released, signalling a decade-long pause in all Indiana Jones-related content. There are still oft-repeated rumours of a new film on the horizon, especially since Disney took over the franchise rights in 2012, but no significant developments have been validated and no new books or comics have appeared in print since 2009. Time will tell if Perry's novel is the last or if a new series will appear in the coming years.

See also: Reading Guide to the Indiana Jones Novels: The Rob MacGregor Years