Review by René O'Deay, posted on

A delightful adventure story set in the India still under the Raj, a book I
never tire of re-reading, there's always something new I learn or discover.

Talbot Mundy created popular adventure stories, series and books in the
early 20th century, starting with stories in Adventure magazines, serialized
novels, and later on radio programs and movies. among the most popular: King the of Khyber Rifles.

In 1926 he published OM The Secret of Ahbor Valley... perhaps his greatest novel with its metaphysical theme.

I discovered it in 1965 at the same time I had found that fabulous book about
King Tut: Tutankhamen, Life of a Pharaoh, by Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, that started me on my obsession with that wonderful king.

Why did I pick it up?

To him who truly seeks the Middle Way, the Middle Way will open, One step forward is enough.

I had already devoured Jack Kerouac's books, including "The Dharma Bums", with its theme about Tibetan Buddhism. I was open to new books about Eastern philosophy. Also was a fan of Sax Rohmer and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and, since Mundy was a popular contemporary of theirs, decided to try it and have never regretted it.

OM opens with an amazing series of catastrophic events. Could this have happened anywhere else than in India? When I first read it, I laughed till I cried.

The adventure story explores the caste system, the various religions, the Secret Ways, the many different tribal areas under the Raj and their widely different customs.

It all centers around a mission in the far reaches of Northeastern Nepal near the where the Brahmaputra River erupts from the Himalayans. A mission founded by an American millionaire philanthropist to teach the natives their own religions along with basic hygiene to improve their way of life. Protaganist Cottswold Ommony, an 'old time forrester', was one of the three trustees appointed to oversee the project, the other two, the woman who runs the mission and a mysterious RingDing Geelong Lama that no one has ever seen.

To complicate the story, there are rumors of a mysterious stone, a huge Jade, with magical properties in the legendary Ahbor country where 'Masters' are reputed to live, of an adopted daughter of the woman who runs the mission, and a report of a stolen piece of that stone. On top of that is the ongoing mystery of the sudden disappearance of Ommony's pregnant younger sister and her husband, the mission's doctor, 20 years before.

That piece of Jade turns up in Delhi, is handed over to Ommony to investigate, and this marvelous adventure takes off.

This book has been kept in print by various publishers.
You can also find it online at:

better at

Talbot Mundy, his life, links to sites about him and his books, and an extensive biography of his life:
Talbot Mundy on Wikipedia

An excerpt from

"And what is imagination, Ommonee, if not a bridge between the known and unknown? Between conventional so-called knowledge and the unexplored realm of truth? Have you no imagination? Electricity was possible a thousand years ago; but until imagination hinted at the possibility, who had the use of it?"

Ommony returned the stone to his pocket. He was interested, and he liked Chutter Chand, but it occurred to him that he was wasting time.

"You're right, of course," he said, "that we have to imagine a thing before we can begin to understand it or produce or make it."

"Surely. You imagined your forest, Ommonee, before you planted it. But between imagination and production, there is labor. You see, what the West can't understand it scoffs at, whereas what the East can't understand it calls sacred and guards against all-comers! I think you will have to penetrate a secret that has been guarded for thousands of years. They say, you know, that there are Masters who guard these secrets and let them out a little at a time. May the gods whom you happen to vote for be grateful and assist you! I would like to go on the adventure with you -- but I am a family man. I am afraid. I am not strong. That stone has thrilled me, Ommonee!"


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