The Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade novel is Rob MacGregor's adaptation of the Last Crusade film, published in June 1989 by Ballantine Books. The book, along with the novelizations of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was republished in 2008 by Del Rey.
The time is the 1930s.
Indiana Jones had always managed to get into enough trouble on his own. But this time, he finds himself in the deadliest situation imaginable—he must rescue his father, eminent professor Dr. Henry Jones, from the Nazis' clutches to keep them from discovering the secret information only Dr. Jones possesses.
Differences from the film
Several scenes deleted or dropped from the film appear in the book, including but not limited to:
- The young Indiana Jones encounters a number of circus performers including an overweight woman into whose cleavage Indy falls into.
- A longer introduction to the ship scene with Panama Hat. The man explains to Indy that he has a prospective buyer ready to purchase the Cross of Coronado but demands that Jones be killed to eliminate any loose ends. Later on, Indy speculates that the anonymous buyer may have been Walter Donovan, though this is never proven.
- Jones being approached two other professors (who despite not being identified by name would appear to be the Professor Stanton and Dr. Mulbray alluded to in the credits) and asked to authenticate a fertility idol.
- A longer scene of Jones being escorted to Walter Donovan's home by his men.
- When arriving in Venice, Indy and Marcus witness the local militia brutalizing an old man. This prompts them to mull over the current situation in Europe and the rising threat of Fascists and Nazis, foreshadowing the appearance of the latter a few chapters later.
- After knocking the butler at Castle Brunwald out, Indy and Elsa hide his body in a closet.
- While leaving the Hitler rally, Indy, in German uniform, is accosted by an SS officer, who he punches.
- Aboard the zeppelin, Indy and Henry are chased by a Gestapo agent who had boarded with Vogel. The agent and the pilot he drafts into service are killed when they crash their biplane.
- In order to gain access for their vehicles to the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, Donovan and the Nazis blow up the entrance with explosives while Indy and the others watch.
Other noteworthy differences include:
- Tyree is named Peterman.
- Indy's interrogation of Kazim and his revelation of Henry's whereabouts occurs while the motorboat is being chopped up by the ship's prop, rather than after they have escaped.
- Instead of pretending to be a Scottish lord named Clarence MacDonald, Indy pretends to be an English lord named Clarence Chumley. Also the butler says if Indy is a lord then he is Jesse Owens, not Mickey Mouse.
- Indy kills the SS officer in Henry's room along with the guards, instead of just knocking him out.
- Donovan opts to have Indy and Henry killed before receiving word of Marcus' capture, which occurs later. Also there is no direct cable from Berlin of Hitler ordering him to "eliminate the American conspirators."
- There are only four Nazi communications officers, vs. the film's five, and all of them are males. The female officer does not appear. In addition, Indy jams the fireplace door with a table leg instead of a bust of Hitler.
- The Motorcycle Chase is omitted entirely.
- The car given to the Hatayan Sultan is a Daimler-Benz, instead of a Rolls-Royce.
- Marcus is already in the tank at the outset of the Nazis' journey to the Canyon (yet Donovan's line, "Put Brody in the tank" remains). Also, he actually manages to drink from the canteen. Vogel does not take it from him, and Marcus throws it back at Donovan when he's finished.
- Indy and the others witness Kazim's death.
- Sallah joins Indy on horseback but they get separated when Sallah falls off his horse after almost being hit by flying car parts when the tank blows up the Kübelwagen.
- In addition, the Kübelwagen carries two soldiers vs. the film's one, and is jammed sideways between the tank treads rather than upside-down on the cannon. The other Kübelwagen (described as "a jeep") also joins the two troop carriers, and Indy fights more soldiers on the tank as they board from the extra vehicle as a result. In particular, two soldiers fall on the tank treads and get crushed, instead of just one.
- The crew of the tank are all Germans, instead of three Germans and two Hatayans. The Hatayan gunner and tank driver do not appear.
- Indy's escape from the falling tank and Vogel's death are different. Indy and Vogel get tangled in the length of chain Vogel was using to fight with, and Indy has to free himself by taking off his pants. Vogel remains tangled in the chain, and can't get off of the tank as a result.
- The Grail Knight's warning not to take the Grail past the seal occurs after Henry has been healed, because he follows Indy and Elsa back out into the temple proper. The warning is also directed specifically at Elsa. He also asks Henry and others if they are the ones come to challenge him, if not Indy.
- The fleeing Nazi soldiers fall into the crack in the temple floor trying to jump over it, whereas in the film they make it and escape.
- Marcus Brody
- Walter Donovan
- Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir
- Gestapo Agent
- Grail Knight
- Half Breed
- Hatay Soldier
- Adolf Hitler
- Anna Mary Jones (Mentioned only)
- Henry Walton Jones, Sr.
- Indiana Jones
- Massad (Remains)
- Herman Mueller
- Officer at Castle
- Panama Hat
- Richard (Remains)
- Rough Rider
- SS Officer at Castle
- SS Officer at Hitler Rally
- Elsa Schneider
- Ernst Vogel
- World War One Ace
- Zeppelin Crewman
Behind the scenes
- "At the time I received the offer to adapt The Last Crusade, I didn't even know there was a new Indiana Jones movie in the works, and wasn't sure what Indiana Jones script the agent was talking about."
- ―Rob MacGregor[src]
James Kahn, who had previously written the novelization of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was initially approached to write the adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as well, but had to turn down the offer due to scheduling conflicts with his television show Family Medical Center. Rob MacGregor's interest was gauged by an editor after the author had completed a behind-the-scenes making of book for the 1980s show Miami Vice. When asked by the editor if he wanted to adapt the movie, MacGregor accepted despite no prior background with the Indiana Jones franchise nor being aware that a new movie was in the works. Nonetheless, MacGregor took the opportunity which was given to him by a literary agent that he had helped earlier that year by adapting two episodes of the series Private Eye at short notice.
To prepare for writing the novel, MacGregor was invited to the Skywalker Ranch and later the Lucasfilm Ltd. headquarters in the Presidio of San Francisco although he didn't meet with George Lucas. Along with the script, which was only about hundred pages long, MacGregor was given a number of movie stills for visual reference. For MacGregor, expanding the Last Crusade story was difficult as one hundred pages only measured up to the equivalent of a novella, not a full book, which would need to be about three hundred pages more including some elements that didn't make it to the movie's final cut.
While writing the novel, MacGregor received regular contact from Lucasfilm to make alterations such as replacing Mesa Verde for Utah or referring to Turkey as Hatay, the latter being obligatory following a minor conflict with an ambassador. Neverthless, MacGregor was still allowed make original additions of his own such as young Indiana Jones' vision quest on a Navajo reservation.