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 Nine Unknown were also the final dedicatees mentioned in the dedication of the first edition of Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible in 1969.
The "Nine Unknown" have since been the subject of the several novels including Shadow Tyrants by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison; The Mahabharata Secret, a 2013 novel by Christopher C. Doyle; Finders, Keepers a 2015 novel by Sapan Saxena; and Shobha Nihalani's Nine novel trilogy.
The number nine is important in the American television series Heroes. Series writers and producers Aron Coliete and Joe 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.
- Taves, pp. 94-5
- Neal Wilgus The Illuminoids New York, Pocket Books 1978 pp.95-6
- LaVey, Anton Szandor (1969). The Satanic Bible. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 978-0-380-01539-9.
- "My book 'Nine' is a mix of facts and fiction: Shobha Nihalani". News18. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
- Weiland, Jonah (2007-04-30). "Behind the Eclipse: 'Heroes' Week 20". Comic Book Resources.
- Taves, Brian (2006). Talbot Mundy, philosopher of adventure: a critical biography. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-2234-3.