For the Adherent of Pop Culture

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: Face of the Dragon Indiana Jones
Face of the Dragon
Written by William McCay
Cover art by Vince Natale

The Jones boys come into the unlikely possession of a mystical golden dragon statue in China.


Read the "Late October 1914" entry of the It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage Indiana Jones chronology for a summary of this book


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This book takes place in November 1914.


Didja Know?


The Young Indiana Jones original novels (not to be confused with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles novelizations) are a series of juvenile novels written from 1990-1995. Though numbered 1-15, they do not take place in chronological order and cover the years 1912-1914. Young Indiana Jones and the Face of the Dragon is book #11 in the series.


Sgt. Nat Warrick, who appeared briefly in the previous novel of the series, The Mountain of Fire, is seen again here. 


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB. The FSB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The journal as published skips over this time in Indy's life. In fact, it goes from August 5, 1912 to March 9, 1916...a period of about 3.5 years! Are we to believe that Indy made no journal entries that entire time? Perhaps the entries were excised by the Russians for some reason when it was in their possession?


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Indiana Jones

Sgt. Nat Warrick

Japanese officer

Japanese soldier

China Maid captain

pilot of Wei-hai-wei launch

China Maid passenger (corpse only, murdered)

Mr. Soong


Black Hat

Green Cloud Society

Thousand Foxes

Hu Sing

Ju Shih



General Sir John Kennan-Foddering

General Hakuma

Colonel Masahiro

Colonel Masahiro's servant

Baron von Dieben (possibly killed in this novel)




Didja Notice?


As the book opens, the steamship China Maid has resumed its voyage to China after being waylaid in Hawaii in The Mountain of Fire.


Sgt. Warrick relates that he fought in the Indian Wars starting in 1885 and chased Geronimo, sailed with the army to Manila to take it back from the Spaniards in 1898 (a conflict of the Spanish-American War), and fought against the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. The Indian Wars were intermittent battles by European colonizers against the Native American inhabitants of North America from about 1609-1924. Geronimo (1829-1909) was the leader of the Bedonkohe band of the Apache people who led numerous raids and combat actions against U.S. outposts; he died as a prisoner of war at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1909. The Boxer Rebellion in China lasted 1899-1901.


On page 7, Indy recalls the time he was in China as a child and his life was saved by a Chinese folk doctor. This refers to events in "The Yin-Yang Principle" that took place in 1910.


Also on page 7, Sgt. Warrick remarks that the army has him based in Shanghai. He also says he's just returned from San Francisco from his first leave in the U.S. in sixteen years.


The war in Europe that is mentioned hanging like a cloud over the entire novel is, of course, WWI.


The description of Marco Polo and his book The Travels of Marco Polo (also known as Book of the Marvels of the World) on page 9 is accurate. The book was actually written by Italian romance writer Rustichello da Pisa from stories told to him by Polo.


The China Maid is headed for the port of Tsingtao, but the ship is stopped by a Japanese destroyer, informing the captain that Tsingtao, as a German port, is being blockaded by Japan and the Allies and the ship must detour to the port at Wei-hai-wei instead. Wei-hai-wei is now known as Weihai.


Once they reach China, Professor Jones plans to travel to Peking, the nation's capital, to review the imperial archives for references to Marco Polo. Peking is nowadays more commonly known as Beijing.


On page 16, Sgt. Warrick remarks that while the German kaiser got Tsingtao for a port, the Russian czar got Port Arthur, and the British got Wei-hai-wei. These are all accurate foreign dominations of these ports at the time.


On page 18, a Chinese crewman on the China Maid speculates the murdered passenger may have been a victim of a tong. Tong are Chinese secret societies, sometimes benevolent, sometimes questionable, with connections to crime.


On page 20, beggars at the port of Wei-hai-wei shout "Cumshaw!" as they press around the disembarking passengers, holding out hands for money. Cumshaw is a word meaning "grateful thanks" in the Xiamen dialect of the Chinese language.


Also on page 20, Indy muses that the Chinese beggars see all American tourists as wealthy, even a "poor professor". But Professor Jones is described in The Gypsy Revenge as having a fair stash of money saved from an inheritance he had received from a dead uncle who once struck gold in the California gold rush.


The Jones' and the American soldiers stay at the Whangpoo Palace in Wei-hai-wei. This appears to be a fictitious inn. "Whangpoo" is a Romanized way of spelling "Huangpu". The inn is probably named for the Huangpu River, though it runs nowhere near Wei-hai-wei.


Sidelined in Wei-hai-wei, Professor Jones muses that he'll have to inquire about the best way to get to Peking, thinking perhaps a steamer to Tientsin.


On page 25, Indy and his father translate lung as "dragon" in Chinese. This is correct.


On page 27, Indy fumes at his father's disdain for dime novels (adventure magazines) the boy likes to read, ruminating that the professor's idea of a good read is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the original Anglo-Norman. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an alliterative verse book by an unknown author in the 14th Century about the Arthurian legends of the Round Table.


On page 32, Soong explains that a dragon was a symbol of the Chinese empire and the emperors were known as the Face of the Dragon. This is true. As Soong also intimates here, the five-toed red dragon was only to be used by the emperor...all other red dragons used by the general public had only four toes.


Also on page 32, Soong tells the Joneses that the last emperor, the child Pu Yi, was forced to step down. Pu Yi was made emperor at the age of 2 when the previous emperor, the boy's half-uncle, died childless in November of 1908. Pu Yi was made to abdicate the throne after the Xinhai Revolution in 1912 which created the Republic of China.


    On pages 33-34, Soong explains that President Sun Yat-sen, elected to lead China after the Xinhai Revolution, was forced to step aside and flee to Japan by General Yuan Shih-kai, who was the leader of the Imperial Army. Soong goes on to say he fears the general plans to become dictator, having dissolved the parliament. This is broadly true. American media even called Sun Yat-sen the "George Washington of China" when he was first elected, as Indy recalls.

    General Yuan Shih-kai became an autocratic ruler as Soong feared, even declaring himself emperor in 1915 until he was overthrown after just 83 days as "emperor".


On page 34, Soong says that the local military governor is a very corrupt man and would just steal the dragon statue if it were handed over to the local government. I've been unable to determine who the local governor around Wei-hai-wei would have been in 1914.


On page 37, Soong explains that the dragon statuette once belonged to the emperor but was looted during the Boxer Rebellion by Western soldiers who were part of the International Relief Force. The international relief force (lower-case) was the term used to describe the men of the Eight-Nation Alliance to suppress the Boxer Rebellion.


Soong tells Indy and his father that he is a leader in the Green Cloud Society. This appears to be a fictitious tong of China.


The Chinese symbol for "food" seen on page 44 is accurate.


The Thousand Foxes tong on page 45 appears to be a fictitious tong of China.


On page 56, Indy and his father are forced to follow Ju Shih across a rickety wooden plank spanning two second-story windows across an alley. Ju Shih goes first and Professor Jones hesitates, "seemingly frozen in indecision". When Indy urges him to go, the professor says the board can't support two people at once, so he waits until Ju Shih completes the crossing, then proceeds. "Travels With Father" indicates that the professor has somewhat of a fear of heights, as well, though that episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was shot in 1994 but did not air until 1996.


On page 58, Indy sees a local on the streets of Wei-hai-wei quickly set up a small stove and begin cooking food on it which he immediately starts selling to passersby. Indy muses to himself, Fast food! Bring it to America and you could make a fortune.


On pages 59-60, Ju Shih tells the Joneses that he and his cohorts represent the Kuomintang, the Nationalist Party, the party of Sun Yat-sen. The Kuomintang was in hiding at this point, as it had been dissolved by a decree of President Yuan after a poorly organized Second Revolution against him by Sun Yat-sen, some members of the Kuomintang, and others in 1913.


On page 61, Ju Shih remarks bitterly that the governor thinks the name of Wei-hai-wei is Port Edward. This was the name of the city as a British-leased territory from 1898-1930.


    On page 66, Indy and his father enter the English-Shantung Bank. This appears to be a fictitious bank. Shantung (Shandong) is the province in which Wei-hai-wei exists.

   A Sikh warrior from India guards the door of the bank. Sikhs are members of the Sikhism religion of the Punjab region of India. Possibly, the warrior described here is part of the Nihang order of Sikh warriors.


On page 75, the old priest Indy and his father run into in the warehouse tells them to call him Deshi. "Deshi" is a term used by many of the peoples of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to describe themselves.


On page 78, Deshi explains that he was blinded when he was caught in the explosion of a cannon blowing up thirty years ago during a battle with the Japanese. This likely refers to the First Sino-Japanese War, though it was only 20 years ago (1894–1895).


On page 79, Indy talks about the European version of dragons, saying the patron saint of England, Saint George, is supposed to have slain a dragon. This relates to an 11th Century legend about George of Lydda, a Roman soldier who is one of the most venerated saints and martyrs of Christianity.


On page 89, the sampan carrying Indy, his father, and Deshi to Tsingtao is said to be crossing the Yellow Sea. This is the sea between China and the Korean peninsula. 


On page 90, the sampan is rescued from the pursuit of the Green Cloud Society steamboat by a gunboat flying the Union Jack. The Union Jack is the flag of the United Kingdom. Union Jack


Page 92 states that the British portion of the Allied army posted outside of Tsingtao is made up of the 1,250 members of the South Wales Border Regiment. This was a regiment of the British army in existence from 1689–1969. They actually did participate in actions against the German territory of Tsingtao from September 1914 to January 1915.


Page 93 describes two hills in German hands along the Tsingtao enemy line, Moltke Hill and Bismarck Hill. These were the German names of two actual hills during the German holding of the city. I've been unable to determine the Chinese names of these hills.


On page 95, Colonel Masahiro is said to be an expert on T'ang-period art. The period of the T'ang dynasty was 618-907 CE and is known for a flourishing arts and literature culture.


On page 104, members of the Welsh Border Regiment complain they hadn't been allowed to attack the Huns. The "Hun" reference is not as well-recognized today, but "Hun" was a term sometimes used (especially in Allied propaganda) for the Germans, comparing them to the "barbarian hordes" of Attila the Hun, the 5th Century warlord.


The end of the book takes place on November 6, 1914, the second-to-the-last day of the historical Siege of Tsingtao.


On page 114, the Japanese forces are about to fight their way up Moltke Hill to the Great Redoubt at the summit. Though there was a redoubt there during the historical siege, I've not been able to find confirmation that it was ever referred to as the Great Redoubt.


On page 188, Sgt. Warrick explains to Indy that Baron von Dieben's facial scar is not an indication that he's a poor fencer, but a mark of honour, as the man is a Heidelberg fencing champion and the German fencing masters often try to get their faces cut to show how tough they are. "Heidelberg" is a reference to Heidelberg University, known for its academic fencing contingent. So-called "dueling scars" were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Germany and Austria.


Immediately upon winning his sword duel against von Dieben, Masahiro points his sword at the demoralized German troops observing and the armed Japanese troops charge at them shouting "Banzai!" This is a Japanese exclamation meaning "10,000 years of long life".


The duel between von Dieben and Masahiro here is based on one that supposedly actually took place during the Siege of Tsingtao along the sides of Iltis Hill, with the Japanese samurai sword defeating the German fencing technique. The names of the combatants don't appear to have been recorded, so the account's authenticity is often questioned.


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