Brood of the Witch Queen Critical Essays

Arthur Henry Ward


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The author of more than forty Oriental thrillers, Sax Rohmer is best known as the creator of the sinister criminal genius Fu-Manchu, whose adventures began with The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (1913; published as The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu in the United States) and continued with twelve further volumes. Many of Rohmer’s tales have fantasy and occult elements, a few are essentially fantasy, and at least one is science fiction (The Day the World Ended, 1930, part of the Gaston Max series that also includes The Yellow Claw, 1915, The Golden Scorpion, 1919, and Seven Sins, 1943).

Of the primarily fantasy works, Brood of the Witch Queen, one of his early publications, is probably the best known. It is based on Rohmer’s extensive knowledge of the occult and his travels in Egypt. In the “prefatory notice” to the novel, Rohmer states that the powers attributed to Antony Ferrara in no case exceed those claimed for a fully equipped adept. He might have referred the reader to his own popular nonfiction account, The Romance of Sorcery (1914; abridged edition, 1923), which was finished immediately before he began writing Brood of the Witch Queen. Rohmer also was a member of an occult secret society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The underlying theme of the novel, frequently repeated, is that in the modern age of science and skepticism, disbelief in the existence...

(The entire section is 417 words.)