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Wednesday, 3 September 2003
FOREIGN LEGIONS, By David Drake

Lots of Soldiers Work for Civilians They don't Like, but these Romans had It Worse than Most-- Their Commanders were Blue-Skinned Aliens!

A follow on to the excellent RANKS OF BRONZE by David Drake, published by Baen Books sometime back in the 1980s. The premise is that a ruthless syndicate of intergalactic traders kidnap Crassus' legion that was historically captured and enslaved by the Parthians (during the Roman Civil War era). The syndicate is governed by a Star Trek style non-interference edict that dictates use of crude technology on low-tech worlds. The Romans, naturally, are very, very good at this kind of warfare.

The follow-up, FOREIGN LEGIONS, is not a novel but a collection of novellas and the first short story that was the inspiration for RANKS OF BRONZE. The rest of the book is penned by other writers (not Drake).

These are the stories included:
RANKS OF BRONZE
SIR GEORGE AND THE DRAGON
LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER
A CLEAR SIGNAL
THE THREE WALLS--32nd CAMPAIGN
CARTHAGO DELENDA EST

Of the novellas included, Sir George (by Eric Flint) was the best-- basically a retelling of Ranks of Bronze, only about 900 years later or so, during the time of Edward III. Lambs to the Slaughter (by S.M. Stirling, who I usually don't like) was short and sweet, a story about a plot to destroy the Legion and what one hard-nosed centurion does to prevent it. A Clear Signal really sucked; it was anachronistic and rather silly in the midst of the others. The Three Walls was rather good, if somewhat jingoistic. Carthago Delenda Est (By David Weber) is rather good, but strains the concept far too much... though the idea of portraying what happens to Earth when the Romans who escaped in THE RANKS OF BRONZE come home is a good one.

Summary: Enjoyable, to be sure, but very uneven. Somewhat brought down by the modern era story, which was trite and hackneyed. Still, I got it for a couple bucks used, so who am I to complain?


Posted by mrnizz at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 September 2003 1:44 PM EDT
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