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The Raiders of the Lost Ark novel, an adaptation of the film of the same name, was written by Campbell Black.

Released in April 1981 by Ballantine Books, two months before the film itself in June, the book has the distinction of being the first Indiana Jones product ever released.

The book, along with the novelizations of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, was republished in 2008 by Del Rey, and retitled Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Publisher's summary[]

The holiest artifact on earth is filled with dazzling, incredible power. Indiana Jones has to get it before the Nazis do.

Indiana Jones, archeology professor and swashbuckling adventurer, has unearthed many an ancient treasure. But now the very future of the world depends on his finding one special relic.

With a bullwhip in his hand and a beautiful lady at his side, Jones journeys from Nepal and Cairo to the Mediterranean, dodging poisons, traps and snakes, battling rivals old and new, all in pursuit of an ancient artifact said to give invincible power to its possessor.

It's a battle to a startling finish, a finish dictated by the magic, the light—and the power—of the Lost Ark.

Plot summary[]

Differences from the film[]

  • The fertility idol is small enough to be carried in Satipo's pocket.
  • Indy at one point recalls some of his previous encounters with René Belloq, such as at graduate school, when Belloq plagiarized Indy's essay on stratigraphy, and as a result was awarded the Archeological Society Prize. Later, in the summer of 1934 Indy found that Belloq already had excavated a spot in the Rub al Khali Desert of Saudi Arabia, a place which Indy had spent months planning to dig.
  • Belloq, upon being hired by Dietrich, is brought to Adolf Hitler's countryside retreat for an audience with him. They are made to wait, and Belloq expresses annoyance and disdain for Hitler because of this.
  • Although in the film it is a nameless Nazi agent who gets aboard the plane with Indy as he leaves for Nepal, the novel combines this character with Arnold Ernst Toht.
  • Upon arriving in Nepal, Indy acquires both a car and directions to the Raven bar from a contact named Lin-Su.
  • After Indy leaves the bar, he sits in his car and stews over what he should do, and doesn't notice Toht and his cronies walking past on their way to the Raven.
  • Otto wears an eyepatch and is even identified by the nickname "Eyepatch."
  • When Indy rescues Marion, Marion remembers how Indy every day used to practice with his bullwhip. Indy then recalls how he developed his fascination for the bullwhip, seeing a whip-act in a traveling circus when he was seven years old.
  • An added extra scene at Tanis wherein Belloq is overseeing the dig, and Belloq recalls how Toht arrived with the markings of the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra burned into his palm, and how he made a duplicate Headpiece from this by taking a mold of Toht's hand.
  • The first mechanic is described as a younger man with tattoos, and unlike the film Indy pushes him into the Flying Wing's propeller, as opposed to him overpowering Indy and then realizing too late that the propeller was right behind him.
  • The truck chase happens differently. Firstly, Toht rides in the same car as Gobler, and thus dies when the car flies off of a cliff. Also, the Nazi gunner in the back of the car is flipped out when Indy sideswipes Gobler with the truck, and he falls down a cliff. The Tough Sergeant never appears; instead two soldiers try to climb over the top of the truck, but are killed when Indy slams the brakes and sends them flying against the side of a mountain.
  • Following the truck chase, there is an added scene of Belloq and Dietrich at the German consulate in Cairo, where they smoke cigarettes and wonder what they should do, be being given news of the departing Bantu Wind.
  • Indy uses his whip to lash onto the periscope of the Wurrfler, but loses his fedora in the water and his whip tied to the periscope.
  • Indy interrupts the Ark-opening ceremony after Belloq has changed into his ceremonial robes. When he is subdued by Captain Mohler, Dietrich attempts to execute him, but Belloq stops him, telling him to tie Indy up and kill him after they open the Ark, so Indy can die knowing he (Belloq) defeated him one final time.
  • Belloq's death is different than the movie. His eyes burn out of his sockets, his skin decays, and he turns to dust. Also the deaths of the Nazis (particularly Dietrich) are not explicitly described.




Behind the scenes[]

While living in Arizona, United States of America,[2] Campbell Black was suggested by his publisher to Lucasfilm Ltd. to novelize their then-forthcoming film Raiders of the Lost Ark, a task Black agreed to accept despite having never adapted a film script, much less an action screenplay, into a book, being given six weeks to do so by Lucasfilm after reading the script a number of times, in spite of not counting with the assistances of the Indiana Jones creatives Steven Spielberg and George Lucas at all to his knowledge nor any access to the film's props or travel routes, forcing him to invent everything himself, leading Black to specify on less clear details from the actual film to give some depths such as how Indiana Jones masters the bullwhip, how he travels to Nepal or how he gets the car that takes him to The Raven. Despite the six week deadline, Black deferred work until the last possible moment, ultimately getting the book written and edited in four days, counting with his wife's assistance to edit it.[3]

One of the decisions Black took while writing the novelization was writing Indiana Jones the way he saw him: an adventurer with a slightly melancholic side. Though aware that the company didn't really approve such idea, Black felt that he couldn't write the book if he had to explicitly base it on the protagonist from the script, which he felt that read like a comic book, finding the script's Jones as too shallow and shadowy, always acting without thinking things, so he opted to flesh out the internal process Jones takes before arriving to the scene. Black in fact felt that Jones' personality would become a caricature and comic action hero in its sequels, not being as interesting as he was in the first film but more as a "hollow Hollywood figure", an action figure at the cost of character development and personal relationships.[3]

To write the broken romance between Jones and Marion Ravenwood, Black was told that Marion was merely in love with Indy through a crush that would be considered taboo back then, only for Jones to tell her that she was too young and that a romance between the two would be impossible. He didn't intend any sexual innuendo on if an older man as Jones had an affair with a young girl like Ravenwood, but nonetheless felt that they were lovers before Jones broke the relationship off, hurting Ravenwood and himself in the process, an idea Black found interesting because it gave character depth on who of the two had pain and a past. He was similarly given permission to expand on Indy's past experiences with René Emile Belloq, as the script given to him had gaps that he had to fill in terms of character development and background, not receiving any dictates from anyone for said backstories.[3]

In Black's original manuscript, the protagonist was simply referred to as Jones throughout the story, but one editorial change requested him to replace "Jones" with "Indy", a decision Black felt as the filmmakers thinking the character as "an approachable and more chummy" one that constrasted with his own "darker" Jones. Although he felt that the character would feel "reduced" by being called as that, Black ultimately concluded that the creative team was right due to being marketed-oriented, unlike him or at least not to that extent.[3]

Cover gallery[]

Notes and references[]

Indiana Jones novels
Raiders of the Lost Ark · Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade · Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: The Mata Hari Affair
Cancelled: Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings
Original stories
Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi · Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants
Indiana Jones and the Seven Veils · Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge
Indiana Jones and the Unicorn's Legacy · Indiana Jones and the Interior World
Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates · Indiana Jones and the White Witch
Indiana Jones and the Philosopher's Stone · Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs
Indiana Jones and the Hollow Earth · Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx
Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead
Overseas exclusives
Indiana Jones and the Feathered Serpent · Indiana Jones and the Longship of the Gods
Indiana Jones and the Gold of El Dorado · Indiana Jones and the Sword of Genghis Khan
Indiana Jones and the Lost People · Indiana Jones and the Secret of Easter Island
Indiana Jones and the Labyrinth of Horus · Indiana Jones and the Avalon Inheritance
Young adult Indiana Jones novels · Timeline of novels
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Novel (Adventures of Indiana Jones) · Junior novel (Collector's Edition) · Storybook · Read-Along Adventure · Mighty Chronicles
Partial adaptations
Indy's Adventures · Traps and Snares · Great Escapes · The Search For Buried Treasure
Soundtrack (The Soundtracks Collection) · The Movie on Record
Comic · 1 · 2 · 3 · Marvel Comics Super Special · Marvel Movie Spotlight · Omnibus 1 · The Gold Goddess
Video game · Greatest Adventures · Trading cards · Indiana Jones Heritage · Raiders of the Lost Ark Game
Adventure Pack · Sourcebook
LEGO Indiana Jones
LEGO Indiana Jones Adventures · The Original Adventures · The Adventure Continues
Activity books
Coloring/Activity Book · Things to Do and Color · Indiana Jones and his Life of Adventure · Annual 2009 · Annual 2010 · Activity Annual · Winter Activity Annual · Golden Treasure Sticker Book · Heroes and Villains Sticker Book · The Greatest Adventures of Indiana Jones
Behind the scenes
The Making of: (Book · Documentary) · Great Movie Stunts · The Illustrated Screenplay · Original Movie Script · From Star Wars to Indiana Jones · A Look Inside · Making the Trilogy · Indiana Jones: An Appreciation · Creepy Crawlies · Travel with Indy: Locations · Stunts of Indiana Jones · Sound of Indiana Jones · Light and Magic of Indiana Jones · Music of Indiana Jones · Indy's Women · Indy's Friends and Enemies · The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
On Set With Raiders of the Lost Ark: (From Jungle to Desert · From Adventure to Legend)
Script development
Story conference transcript · Screenplay drafts
Home video
VHS (The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones) · DVD (Adventure Collection · Complete Adventure Collection)
Blu-ray (The Complete Adventures) · 4K (4-Movie Collection) · LaserDisc
Great Movie Stunts & The Making Of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Other material and merchandise
Toy line · Collector's Album · Official Film Poster Magazine · LEGO Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Brick