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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: The Secret City Indiana Jones
The Secret City
Written by Les Martin
Cover art by Nate Giorgio

In Turkey, Indy and Herman stumble into an ancient evil cult living in an underground city.


Read the "June 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 June 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 Secret City is book #4 in the series.


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

Herman Mueller, Jr.

Henry Jones, Sr.

Indiana (dog, mentioned only)

Count Igor Ivanovich Stravsky (alias Fyodor Rostov)

King Zed

King Zed's men

old Turkish woman




Didja Notice?


The book opens with Indy and his father, along with Herman, on a Greek tramp steamboat coming into the harbor of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in Turkey, arriving from New York City. Indy's remarks to Herman on page 9 that the city was first known as Byzantium and that it is the only city that's half in Europe and half in Asia are correct.


Herman remarks about Constantinople that it sure isn't Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, the state in which he and Indy currently live.


Page 8 describes the steamship's voyage from New York, across the Atlantic, through the Strait of Gibraltar, across the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, with stops in Marseille, Naples, and Athens, up the Dardanelles, and through the Sea of Marmara. The Dardanelles is a natural strait (also known as the Strait of Gallipoli) that runs through part of western Turkey, separating so-called European Turkey from Asian Turkey. The Sea of Marmara is an inland sea within Turkey that connects the Black Sea with the Aegean.


    Page 9 states that the aunt who was supposed to look after Indy while his father did some research on the Crusades in Turkey took sick, so Indy had to come along for the ride. Indy brings Herman along as well. The aunt is not named, but perhaps it is "Aunt" Mary Jones, seen in Curse of the Ruby Cross. The Crusades were a series of religious wars, mostly between Christians and Muslims over the right to control the Holy Land,  but also against heretics, from 1095-1492.


In this book, Professor Jones is once again in the habit of arguing with his son about his nickname.


On page 10, Indy states that his namesake dog, Indiana, died saving him from a rattlesnake. But in "Spring Break Adventure", which takes place later, in 1916, the dog is said to still be alive. The TV series takes precedence in canon over licensed media, so we must assume the dog is still alive in "Spring Break Adventure" and the earlier reference here should be retconned to have Indy saying his dog was bitten by a rattlesnake, but survived. Perhaps the dog was not able to be as active after the incident and stayed mostly at home.


The Jones' and Herman stay at the Pera Palace Hotel in Constantinople.


    Indy and Herman's first stop as they begin a tour of the city is the Hagia Sophia cathedral. The historical facts Indy tells Herman about it are accurate. From the Hagia Sophia, Indy also points out the Blue Mosque.

    It's implied that the pair are touring on foot and the Hagia Sophia is about 3 miles from the Pera Palace Hotel, so Herman's complaints of aching feet are reasonable.


Indy also has plans to visit the Grand Bazaar (in existence since the 15th Century) and see Topkapi Palace.


On page 16, Herman tells Indy that his father (Herman Mueller, Sr.) had told him that there was no chance of a big war ever again, as by the current year of 1914 the world was too civilized to blow itself apart. This is, of course, an ironic foreshadowing of WWI which is about to begin at the end of July.


Indy and Herman see a large battleship flying the Russian flag in the Constantinople harbor. From 1705-1920, the Russian flag was the same one the Russian Federation uses now, a tricolor white, blue, and red originally introduced by Peter the Great.


Professor Jones finds that the Constantinople library does not have the books he needs and he has to go to the library in Konya, a 12-hour train ride away. Konya is a large city about 400 miles southeast of Constantinople. On page 23, Professor Jones remarks that his current research is on the Seljuk Turks, whose capital was in Konya. The Seljuk Empire covered much of the Middle East from 1037-1194.


In Chapter 3, Indy expresses his interest in seeing the whirling dervishes of Konya. The information given about this Sufi religious order is accurate. The order's founder known as Mevlana was Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī (1207-1273).


On page 30, Indy proposes that he and Herman dress themselves in used clothing from a stall at the local market so they can blend in among the Konya residents. Herman objects that their Buster Brown shoes will give them away, but Indy responds that many of the poor kids go around barefoot, so they will, too. Buster Brown was a character in a comic strip of the same name from 1902-1921. The character also appeared in advertisements for many products, most popularly for the Brown Shoe Company off-and-on into the 1990s. Brown Shoes, especially their childrens' lines, were often popularly called "Buster Browns".


On page 33, Indy points out a prayer rug and tells Herman that the top of the rug should be pointed towards Mecca for Muslim prayer. Mecca is the Islamic center for prayer and Muslims are required to face the city while praying, wherever they are.


Count Stravsky reveals that he works as a spy for Czar Nicholas II, the Emperor of Russia at the time. 


The Count and King Zed take the captive Indy and Herman to the Turkish region of Cappadocia. Indy's description to Herman of how the strange rock formations of the region formed through volcanism and wind and rain erosion is accurate. (Cappadocia image from Wikipedia by Benh LIEU SONG, shared under the GNU Free Documentation License.)


On page 58, Indy and an old Turkish woman exchange the words "Tesekkurederim" and "Birsey degil." This is Turkish for "Thank you" and "It was nothing." Both phrases are repeated on page 117, along with "Allahhaismarladik" ("Allah go with you", used for "goodbye") and "gule gule" (a less formal way of saying "goodbye").


On page 60, Indy laments not having brought his bullwhip with him from home and Herman remarks, "Yeah, don't leave home without it," and then adds, "Hey, that's a pretty catchy phrase, huh?" and Indy tells him he should go into advertising when he grows up. This is a wink by the author to the slogan of American Express credit cards and travelers cheques, used off-and-on by the company in advertisements since 1975.


On page 63, Indy and Herman prepare to go down a large hole a rabbit had escaped through so they can escape their own pursuers and Indy asks his friend if he's ever read Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland is an 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll about a girl transported to Wonderland, a hidden, surreal, and semi-mystical world that does not run by the same rules the normal world does; in the book, a large anthropomorphic rabbit escapes down a hole and Alice chases him down it, winding up in Wonderland.


Both boys are worried if there might be snakes down the hole. Herman ponders on what kind of venomous snakes exist in Turkey, speculating on cobras or asps. There is one, rare, cobra species in the country and a number of viper species.


On page 64, as he and Indy climb down the steps blindly in the dark hole, Herman says, "Indy, I've got a funny feeling about this." This may be a bit of a nod by the author to George Lucas' Star Wars saga, where the phrase "I've got a bad feeling about this," appears repeatedly.


On page 65, Indy tries to squelch the thoughts of suddenly hearing a snake's angry hiss or feeling a snake's slimy body coil around him. Of course, snakes are not slimy in reality, their scaly bodies having a dry texture.


The underground city Indy and Herman discover below Cappadocia is basically real. A number of underground cities, all connected by miles of tunnels, exist, built over the centuries to hide populations from the violence of rival civilizations and empires since around the 8th Century BCE.


On pages 82-83, Indy and King Zed discuss the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible and in the Apocrypha. The story is as it is stated by them here, except the so-called "true" version of the Apocrypha mentioned by Zed appears to be fictitious. The artifact called the Knife of Cain is also fictitious.


On page 110, Count Stravsky says the Russian people are also angry with their ruler and eager for change. He is referring to unrest over the rule of Czar Nicholas II which will eventually lead to the February Revolution in 1917 that ended the reign of Nicholas in the midst of WWI.


When Indy and Herman finally return to Constantinople a few days after defeating King Zed and Count Stravsky, they learn from Professor Jones that the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in that nation's capital of Sarajevo on June 28, the same day the Knife of Cain drew blood in the caverns below Cappadocia, potentially initiating one hundred years in which "killing would be king" according to the prophecy to which King Zed was devoted. The heir who was killed was Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his assassination provoked a series of events that would lead to the start of WWI on July 28. What Professor Jones does not say here (because this book was written before the production of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series) is that, the Duchess of Hohenberg, Ferdinand's wife, was also killed alongside him. Ferdinand and the Duchess were the parents of Indy's friend and first love, Princess Sophie of Hohenberg, whom he met in "The Perils of Cupid".


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