Masterworks of Adventure: Lost Worlds

The Ultimate Anthology: 32 Classic Tales

Long before Indiana Jones... The ‘Lost World’ or ‘Lost Race’ genre was one of the most popular genres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This Masterworks of Adventure anthology is a collection of 32 tales considered to be among the best and most influential works. We started with 333: A Bibliography of the Science-Fantasy Novel, by Crawford, Donahue and Grant (1953), which lists the best works published before 1950, then cross-referenced them with Science-fiction, the Early Years by Everett Franklin Bleiler and Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Lost Race Check Guide, the ultimate checklist for collectors. You’ll find stories told in a variety of styles: travelogues, boy’s adventure, romantic adventure, philosophical adventure and pulp fiction. Some have been made available for Kindle for the very first time and are exclusive to ROH Press.

What people are saying

She: The most famous of the ‘lost world’ novels. It was incredibly popular and is still one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold over a hundred million copies. ~ Graeme Shimmin

The Lost World: “The tone and techniques that Conan Doyle first refined in The Lost World have become standard narrative procedures in popular entertainment of the present day.” ~ Michael Crichton

Eureka: “One of the finer books of its kind, unfortunately very rare.” ~ Jessica Amanda Salmonson

The Knight of the Silver Star: “Excellent tale.” ~ Jessica Amanda Salmonson

The Phantom City, A Volcanic Romance: “Intelligently written.” ~ Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-fiction, the Early Years

Check out each title's rating on

Immortal Athalia

Chapter 1: Wilder Macdonald’s Tasks

HE WAS A STRONG man—this MacDonald—and had been thrown early on his own resources. Steadfast of purpose, quick to observe and retain impressions, he had become a man of wide if unschooled knowledge.
His native talents were developed by extensive travels in unusual and far-distant directions, for the intrepid old soldier-of-fortune had sought out countries that through riot and revolution were struggling for a higher expression of liberty and civilization.
One of the most active members of a revolutionary junta in Costa Rica, he witnessed an illogical revolt burst like a bubble, and with a price set upon his head stole away from that turbulent little republic to aid terrorized Cuba in her futile struggle with Spain long before the United States had dreamt of any form of intervention. Some will-o-the-wisp lure had enchanted him again and again into new lands of adventure, fresh fields of strife and colorful experiences, and more than once he had sheathed his pioneer sword, folded his tent and sailed away to surfeit his love for adventure in the short and bloody arenas of the South American republics, with their kaleidoscopic politics.
Circumstances at last took him to Peru and in this land of the Incas he fell on the possible clue of a city so weird, a civilization so old, with a high culture and a hideous barbarism so intermingled, that nothing in the recorded researches of man could ever remotely approach it. The thought of a possible expedition in quest of this mysterious city came to his mind, and like a seed found fertility in his brain. Nourished by the wanderlust that surged within his blood, there blossomed forth in splendor pictured possibilities that further encouraged his reverie of dreams
Shipping from Valparaiso for San Francisco on an English merchantman, he thought of the inconsequential amount his wages would add to his meager savings. That he would not have the means of organizing an expedition to attempt carrying it into the unexplored and perhaps inaccessible tropical jungle or mountain fastness was realized; for it took more money than he could sense, and more courage than falls to the lot of the average man. He had not mingled much with conventional men and not at all with women, because of a handicap that had sent the iron of despair through his soul. An awful destiny had distorted the strong Scotch face to the semblance of some wild beast and it had gained for him among his few intimates in America the vicious sobriquet of ‘the brute-man.’ He felt at home prospecting for rubber with a band of natives in the wild jungles of the Amazon, but was much too timid to exploit in the proper channels a project the conditions of which were beyond the super-imagination of man.
There was one person in the whole world to whom he could turn—one man who would give respectful attention to a story of seeming impossibilities.
Without hope he sent word to this man—Professor Drexel of New Haven. To this great scientist he wrote that, while prospecting for rubber in the vast Madre De Dios section of Peru, he had come into possession of valuable data concerning Lorretto, an unknown and ancient city of the Incas; and the evidence of the existence of such a place was strong.
When he had started his letter on its way he gave himself over to the fever and impatience common to one who finds waiting irksome and wearying. But his old friend, the Professor, soon relieved his mind with a terse letter which ran:

Dear Macdonald,
I cannot afford to be too credulous over your supposed hidden and ancient Lorretto, but I shall be glad to examine your data and hear what you have to say concerning it.
I have a problem of another sort on my hands at present and it may be that you can help me in its solving.
I have failed, utterly, in the proper training of your old pal’s son—my nephew Tom Drexel—and I must get him away from these haunts if I am ever to make a man of him.
Your letter has suggested a possible trip for him to some part of South America in company with you and myself.
Please come East at once and we will take up your affairs and mine, which may terminate in a journey Lorretto-wards. If we cannot discover a lost city we may be able to find a man where now is only a semblance of one.

When MacDonald started for New Haven at the receipt of the letter and almost on its heels, he had undertaken a knotted and tangled task, not much less difficult than finding a civilization of great antiquity in a world that had been practically explored.
On the night of his arrival at New Haven, Tom Drexel was lounging over a bar in the Elm Club with a coterie of fellows who appreciated his open-handed purchasing spirit and encouraged its development along the whole line from whisky straight to champagne.
He had really intended to sober up, but the appeal of the old crowd had been too strong, and he was tossing off more liquor and drunkenly narrating the story of a tandem play on the gridiron at the expense of Harvard, when his solicitous friend Townsend entered.
Quick to observe Drexel’s condition, he put his arm through Tom’s regardless of the latter’s protests, and led him to the library above-stairs, where he deposited Drexel with no gentle force upon a divan and standing over him lit a cigar, determined to keep his companion away from the bar. Tom grew maudlin, spun imaginery troubles, made good resolves, and with caustic bitterness condemned Louise Layton for his present downfall and worthlessness.
“Cut this drunken babble if you can,” said Townsend. “The woman never loved you. She was trifling with you. Her subsequent marriage for title proved that.” He glared at Tom sternly, continuing: “A woman neither makes nor mars a man unless he wills it. It is your contemptible weakness that’s making a fool and a drunkard of you. The free rein that you have had with the fortune left by your father has handicapped you for whatever career might have been yours. You could at least straighten up, and be an ordinary man.”
Tom Drexel was not so intoxicated that he could not comprehend the full meaning of his friend’s remarks. He winced. Townsend never minced matters and while his bluntness hurt it never gave offense.
“You’re right, old fellow!” he said, partially sobering through a tremendous brain effort. “I’m going to start anew. I’ll brace up, and break with the old crowd—forget my infatuation for her and—yes, I know what I’ve become—I know that I’m all wrong. I have been a sad old dog to the uncle—but I’m going to show all of you that I am made of something beside common mud.”
“That’s the talk!” exclaimed Townsend. “But damn it” he puffed vigorously at his cigar and gave his friend a skeptical glare: “You’ve told me that before and so often that I am apt to forget myself some day and really believe you.”
“I’m leaving New Haven,” said Tom abruptly. “MacDonald, the brute-man—er, you remember him, of course. I think the old codger was due to arrive in town tonight. Well, unless uncle changes his mind we are going to take a trip with him to Peru or some other plagued spot—Haven’t given the matter much thought in regard to details, but if I heard aright it is on a fool quest for some mythical Queen in a dream city of the tropics and—”
“Does the old duffer really believe the myths?” queried Townsend, breaking in on his friend sharply.
“Believe them!” exclaimed Tom. “He certainly does, as much as we believe in Plymouth Rock. He has this Lorretto as accurately located in the tropics as you have your home town, St. Louis, in Missouri.”
“And your Uncle—”
“Uncle is tolerant,” Tom said soberly. “Of course MacDonald’s story is too lurid, too seemingly impossible to be accepted offhand; but we’re going in quest of the iridescent bubble, nevertheless.”
“Tom! Are you crazy? Are you seeing things at the bottom of a wine glass or is your head clear enough to understand the statements you are making?” said Townsend. “Although your uncle is a free lance and can wander at will, he has employed his life in scientific affairs of worth. As for you, how can there be any appeal in such a difficult and hare-brained trip?”
“I’ll admit I am rather indifferent about it,” replied Tom, with a smile. “I have got to make some kind of move, though, to break away from my present life. If I stay here I’ll go to the devil in spite of my good resolutions, and, taking everything into consideration, I’ve figured that a trip to the tropics should do me good—sort of boil the rosin out of my system.” He gave a harsh laugh, adding, “The change and hardship should rid my brain of its memories—for I loved the girl and haven’t yet got her out of my thoughts.”
Townsend glanced sharply at his friend but made no response.
“MacDonald is expected at any moment,” resumed Tom, “in fact, the Scot is bringing the strange original script along with him, a photo of which my uncle has analyzed to his own satisfaction. If it is genuine and true, Mother Earth has a fine mystery for us to unravel.”
“Tommyrot!” ejaculated Townsend. “A new Munchausen has picked up the Scot and saddled a fairy tale on him.”
“I have the same sentiments,” Tom admitted, “but I’m willing to go on the quest. My Mother, whom I never knew, is buried at Lima. I wish to look on that sacred spot where she lies. To keep company a few leagues farther with two old dreamers on a fool’s errand will be small trouble.”
“Of all things! You, Tom Drexel, clubman, lounge lizard, inside sport—extraordinary! A man that knows not the name of manual labor going to hoof it through fever-infested swamps teeming with dangers and hardships!” gasped Townsend in astonishment. “Of all the crazy excursions I ever heard of, this takes the buttered bun.”
Drexel laughed. “Why don’t you join the expedition, old boy?” he asked. “I am sure the fair Queen—Ccoya of Lorretto, I believe she is called—may make you forget your self-imposed bachelorhood. How would you like to be the King of a bunch of Indians?”
“The appeal is not strong enough,” laughed Townsend. “I’ve no pioneer blood and I am satisfied to have others blaze the trail for me. The lights of the good old club and the ways of civilization suit me better than the light of the tropical fireflies and the ways of cannibal tribes of the tropics.”
Tom laughed, remarking as he arose to depart: “You are a level-headed man with a good and increasing business. The things that have been but passing diversion to you have been damnation to me. I’ve been an ambitionless fool! A spender of money that I never earned! Drinking over bars, idle talk, loafing valuable time away and keeping late hours—these mistakes make up the sum of my life. I’ve been the cheapest kind of sport.”
Drexel hung his head, shamed and regretful.
“Brace up, Tom,” and Townsend arose and going over to his friend put his arm about Drexel’s shoulder.
Tom looked up with a faint smile.
“You have been hitting the high places steadily for a couple of years, but you’re not a wreck. Pull out of the rut, old chap!” Townsend encouraged, “pull yourself together and stick to the old Scot for making a real man of you.”
They parted and Drexel, bidding some few of his friends farewell, passed out into the night with a bitter sigh, for he seemed to have a premonition as he paused to take a last look at the brilliantly lit club house that it was to be his last night of revelry within its walls for a prolonged time, if not forever.
Long after Tom Drexel was asleep in his own apartment, Wilder MacDonald, that hardy old Scot, grim warrior of many battles, son of the desert, happy old tar of unchartered seas, trail blazer in tropic lands and over mountain heights, set rocking to and fro in his chair at a hotel, far into the early hours of the morning, feverishly threshing out plans for the dual task he had accepted.