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Cigars of the Pharaoh

Cigars of the Pharaoh (Les Cigares du Pharaon) is a Tintin book by Hergé.

Tintin exposes a ring of opium distributors. Like the other early adventures it is a sequence of short, unconnected skirmishes; but for the first time Hergé introduces a common thread, the mysterious cigars. The book version is considerably shorter than the version that was published serially. This original version is now also available in book form.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.


Tintin is on a boat with Dr Sarcophagus, an Egyptologist, who tries unsuccessfully to keep a paper from going overboard. Sarcophagus then realizes that the paper is not the Kih-Oskh papyrus he thought it was but a travel agency prospectus. Tintin then bumps into Rastapopoulos and apologizes. Sarcophagus is on a trip to Egypt to explore Kih-Oskh's tomb, and Tintin decides to come along.

In the tomb, Tintin and Sarcophagus are startled several times by doors closing behind them. They come to a room where rows of Egyptologists are entombed. At the end of the row are three empty sarcophagi, one for each of Tintin, Snowy, and Sarcophagus. A drugged vapor fills the room, and they fall asleep.

Next thing they know, they are in the sarcophagi, which are thrown overboard and float in the sea. Tintin and Snowy tie their coffins together, but Sarcophagus's drifts away.

Tintin hears a woman screaming and rushes to her aid. The woman turns out to be an actor in a movie that Rastapopoulos is making; he rushes up angry. After Tintin apologizes profusely, they talk for a while, and Rastapopoulos confesses that he has been following Tintin's adventures for some time.

In Arabia, Thomson & Thompson are fighting someone and hit a local Arab on the head, mistaking him for someone else. Shortly afterward, Tintin arrives and finds a procession of armed Arabs. "One of our sheiks was bashed on the head by two men from the Djelababi tribe," explains one of them. "And that means war!" Tintin is enlisted in their army under the name Ali-Bhai.

While cleaning the colonel's office, he finds a cigar label with Kih-Oskh's sign (a circle with a wavy line through it and two dots) on it. He is charged with spying and executed by firing squad. Fortunately, he does not actually die, and is dug up later alive.

In India, he meets a large group of people. Later, he talks with one of them, Zloty the writer, who is explaining the opium trade and oppression of farmers when the fakir, outside on his rope, blows a dart at him. He explains that it is poisoned with Rajaijah juice, which drives one mad.

The Maharaja of Gaipajama suspects that he is next, so he puts a dummy in his bedroom and sleeps somewhere else. Indeed the dummy was hit by a dart.

Tintin finds the hideout of a secret society including the fakir, the colonel, and several others. He also finds Sarcophagus, who is mad and thinks he is Ramses II. He takes Sarcophagus and Zloty to the asylum with a letter from the doctor, but someone in the secret society has substituted the letter and Tintin ends up imprisoned. He escapes by jumping on an inmate and over the wall.

Chasing the chief of the secret society, he recovers the Maharaja's son, but the chief falls off a cliff and (presumably) dies, his identity still unknown. The cigars turn out to be tobacco wrapped around opium.

(Some events may be out of order because I don't know where my copy is and am writing this from memory. -phma)

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