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Foreign Legions Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
In his introduction to this solid shared-world anthology, laid in the universe of his novel Ranks of Bronze (in turn developed from a short story reprinted here as the first item), military SF author Drake explains the book's venerable premise: human soldiers (in this case, Romans from the lost legions of Crassus) have been enslaved by star-traveling aliens who need low-tech mercenaries. Of the stories, David Weber's "Sir George and the Dragon," Drake's "Lambs to the Slaughter" and S.M. Stirling's "The Three Walls 32nd Campaign" are all conventional if substantially above-average military SF. (It's hard to resist a centurion nicknamed Raninunculus, i.e., "Froggy.") Mark L. Van Name's "A Clear Signal" distinguishes itself by its focus on the ethical issues created for humans by access to the aliens' high technology and for aliens by access to a supply of desperate human beings. Finally, Eric Flint's "Carthago Delenda Est" combines passion and zaniness in about equal measure, a mixture that has worked for its author in novel length and now seems to prosper in his shorter pieces. Neither the basic proposition nor most of the development in individual stories will win high marks for originality, but military-historical scholarship and narrative techniques are another matter, as one might expect from the roster of authors. In addition, one learns a good deal about the background of the Roman guilds and federation and how a "benign" federation might look from the point of view of its illegal immigrants doing its dirty work.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Drake's previously published story of an interstellar interpretation of a portion of Roman history ("Ranks of Bronze") becomes the touchstone for this collection, which focuses on the starfaring descendants of displaced Roman legions. From David Weber's revision of the legend of St. George ("Sir George and the Dragon") to Eric Flint's tale of a far future Roman empire ("Carthago Delenda Est"), the six stories create a satisfying fusion of ancient history and far future military sf suitable for most libraries' sf collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I read Weber's book first and didn't realize that the concept had come originally from David Drake, in other words the Romans were first. Great idea and Jim Baen was right to push for a continuance. Nice anthology.
ranks of bronze (short story version) - you can see why this was so intriguing drake was pushed for a novelization.
sir george and the dragon - it seemed a bit dull, probably because in great part it is a re-run of the original novel with another set of humans.
lambs to the slaughter - dry drake story, he didn't show any occupation-force/pacification activity in original story, wonder if this is an afterthought.
a clear signal - interesting concept, though half the story being flashback to establish relationship between protagonist and antagonist was dull as dirt. this could easily have been a generic SF story ported to the ranks of bronze universe by simply changing the nature of the aliens, there is really nothing else involving drake's concept here.
the three walls/32nd campaign - roman legion in another battle, with familiar characters. written pretty much in character, straight military story
cartago delenda est - the most interesting of the stories - what happens after the legion returns to earth, and the guild figures out where they have gone with the missing ship. overall flint does a good job with this, though i am baffled as to why he needs to have a 'funny' character in his stories. In this case clodius afer becomes the 'funny' character, with his wailing and moaning during one battle sequence. I do think the conclusion could have used some more expansion (despite getting the historical reference to the ending of the third punic war, something the title gives away anyway with cato's famous mantra), but what do i know...