The Nine Unknown
The Nine Unknown is a 1923 novel by Talbot Mundy. Originally serialised in Adventure magazine, it concerns the Nine Unknown Men, a secret society founded by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka around 270 BC to preserve and develop knowledge that would be dangerous to humanity if it fell into the wrong hands. The nine unknown men were entrusted with guarding nine books of secret knowledge.
In the novel the nine men are the embodiment of good and face up against nine Kali worshippers, who sow confusion and masquerade as the true sages. The story surrounds a priest called Father Cyprian who is in possession of the books but who wants to destroy them out of Christian piety, and a number of other characters who are interested in learning their contents.
The concept of the "Nine Unknown Men" was further popularized by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in their 1960 book The Morning of the Magicians. They claimed that the Nine Unknown were real and had been founded by the Indian Emperor Ashoka. They also claimed that Pope Silvester II had met them and that nineteenth century French colonial administrator and writer Louis Jacolliot insisted on their existence.
The number nine is important in Heroes; Coliete and Pakaski have credited the story of Ashoka and the Nine Unknown Men as one of the many influences for the series and as a clue to the mystery surrounding the number.
The Nine Unknown Men are mentioned in the song 'Putta Block' by The Fall on the b-side of their 'Totally Wired' 7" from 1980.
- Taves, Brian (2006). Talbot Mundy, philosopher of adventure: a critical biography. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-2234-3.