The Mystery of Khufu's Tomb

Talbot Mundy | published Oct, 1922

added Jun 6, 2024
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First Date of Publication
Oct, 1922
Original Source
Adventure
Additional Publication Information
The story was first published in the magazine, "Adventure" from Oct, 1922 under the title, "Khufu's Real Tomb". It was later published in book form in 1933
Original Source Type
Magazine - Pulp
Medium
Novel
Original Language
English
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Summary: A fast-paced novel involving mathematics, the Pyramid of Khufu, and of course, a fabulous treasure. Written in the true spirit of the early twentieth century mystery and adventure novels.

Story Tag Line: “Mathlematics no can lie,” he answered. “You no savvy. Me savvy.” (sic)

Publisher’s Description:
Talbot Mundy is always at his best when he spins a yarn about the redoubtable Jimgrim. In the present thriller, Jimgrim, or James Schuyler Grim, is very much in evidence, are such others of the author’s well known characters as the hero’s huge Sikh servant and spy, Narayan Singh, Jeff Ramsden, and Meldrum Strange. Adventure begins when Joan Ange1a Leich, descendant of California pioneer stock, rolling in wealth, yet unspoiled, buys a thousand acres of land in Egypt for a mere few dollars, and then promptly forgets her purchase, only to be reminded of it in the strangest way. For some unknown reason, a wily pair of lawyers are attempting to obtain title for an Egyptian client to that thousand acres of forgotten sand forty miles from the Nile. And as things subsequently develop, the unknown reason becomes crystal clear. Unwittingly, Joan has picked up for a song the secret tomb of the Pharoah Cheops or Khufu. How Jimgrim, Ramsden, and Joan go to Egypt, and with the help of a small band of British soldiers discover the tomb and its fabulous secret makes a rapid and exciting story, in which Mr. Mundy’s imagination takes wings and soars to dizzy heights.

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Reviews

  • Vijay Fafat
    Published on

    A rapid-read, reasonably entertaining novel about the real location of the Pharaoh Khufu’s (Cheops) tomb and the fabulous treasury buried therein. An old, Chinese mathematician spends decades decoding the mathematical information encoded in the construction of the Pyramid of Cheops to pinpoint the burial site of Khufu (and as a true, platonic mathematician,

    “He was really only interested in the pyramid. The treasure did not attract him; what gave him exquisite delight was seeing the proof that his deductions were correct. He was too old to care for money, or too wise”

    and

    “[he was] much more delighted with his mathematical solution and with our bewilderment than with any thought about the value of the gold”).

    General intrigue follows with an altruistic ending that the recovered treasure is to be used for the general good of the entire world.

    Some quotables from the story:

    “To Chu Chi Ying mathematics were religion. From the moment the little old man started figuring, and interpreting the figures, he felt himself in touch with the Infinite, and was happy” […]

    “[Mathematics is the] Business of think, not guess! You know tligonometly? You know tliangulation? You know what base is? So. Look, see.”

    “Mathlematics no can lie,” he answered. “You no savvy. Me savvy.”

    “He was obsessed by mathematics; but, according, to him, as I understood his explanations, music and mathematics are the interpretation of law that governs the whole universe, and he who understands them owns the key to everything.

    “To him, the Pyramid expressed - by means of some abstruse relation between the number of courses of stone and the height and weight of the finished building - not only the number of ingots of gold and silver that Khufu caused to be buried with him in his tomb, but their exact dimensions, purity or fineness, and the order of their arrangement underground.”

    “Chu Chi Ying’s theory was this: There were men in the days when the Pyramid was built who knew Knowledge. Abstract knowledge. And abstract knowledge was their notion of the after-life and what we call heaven. Therefore, the attainment of abstract knowledge meant eternal life. But—and here was the rub, as I understood it—abstract knowledge could not be understood unless first concretely expressed in some way. In other words, he who believed he had attained to abstract knowledge had to prove it, and to leave his proof for others to follow if they could. So the Pyramid was an effort on the part of old King Khufu to express concretely the sum total of the abstract knowledge that had been taught to him by the sages of his day…”

    “He went into a maze of calculations then that would baffle an astronomer who hadn’t tables to fall back on. Chu Chi Ying used never a note, set down no figures, hesitated not one second, but reeled off—in English, mind you—numbers running into billions, pointing with the long nail of his left forefinger to the various details of the Pyramid’s construction as he dealt with them mathematically, one by one. He calculated for an hour. He dragged in the precession of the equinoxes and law of gravity, the speed of light, and the mean distance between the earth and sun, and related all that-in some inscrutable fashion that seemed plausible while he was doing it—to the inside measurements of the empty granite sarcophagus—so called—that was all they ever found in the Pyramid when Al Mahmoun’s men broke in, A.D. 800. And the long and short of all that was, as he announced triumphantly at the conclusion, that the base of the Pyramid on the side opposed to the Sphinx is the base of a theoretical triangle, whose apex falls exactly on the opening into Khufu’s real tomb!”