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FOREIGN LEGIONS [Hardcover]

DAVID DRAKE
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 15 2001

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

The guilds of star-traveling merchants had strict rules to prevent their technology from falling into the hands of the natives of planets they were exploiting: military operations had to be carried out with weaponry no more complex than swords and bows.

That was no handicap to merchant princes with a galaxy to scour for military slaves to do their fighting for them. Some came to Earth for soldiers and returned to the stars with the best the planet had to offer. For over two thousand years the aliens thought they'd succeeded brilliantly -- but then things changed!

Set in the universe of Ranks of Bronze, masterful new novellas by

David Drake
Eric Flint
S. M. Stirling
Mark L. Van Name
and David Weber

explore the bleeding edge between human courage and the science of alien slavemasters. The right man with a sword is just as deadly as a technician with a laser --

And not all the blood spilled is red!

YESTERDAY THEY WERE THE BEST
INFANTRY ON EARTH-
NOW THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE ON THE
WHOLE GALAXY.

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Product Description

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.

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.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
One of David Drake's earliest stories (and one of his best known), is "Ranks of Bronze", which leads off this volume of tales. "Ranks" dealt with a short, ugly campaign by a group of bought-and-paid-for Roman Legionnaires, the survivors of Crassus' utterly disastrous Parthian campaign. To the aliens, the primitive humans are useful puppets who can be used to conquer other primitive worlds. But THESE puppets have swords, which can cut strings... and their masters' throats.
The stories in this volume range from non-stories like S. M. Stirling's "Three Walls", which is a fairly dull run-of-the-action description of a battle, turned into a story only by a throwaway moment at the end which warns of what is to come in the final story.
There's also "A Clear Signal", which doesn't really feel as if it fully belongs in this book, since the political circumstances described don't match anything else, nor do the Romans even get mention. It's not a bad story, but it really belongs elsewhere.
Drake himself contributes "Lambs to the Slaughter", which I'd call the sprightliest tale in the book, being how one underofficer, known to all and sundry as "Froggie", manages to outwit both his masters and his enemies. I laughed like hell at the ending of this one, and Drake doesn't usually do that for me.
David Weber contributes "Sir George and the Dragon," which serves both as solid entertainment and as a reminder that humans are dangerous, whether they be Romans or English, and a tribute to what has probably been the finest weapon of battle ever created, the English Longbow.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Foreign Legions Dec 13 2001
By J. Vote
Format:Hardcover
Liked some of the concepts, Good writeing, Would have liked to see more, highly recomend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drops you into battle and plays you out with music May 22 2001
By Geoffrey Kidd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of David Drake's earliest stories (and one of his best known), is "Ranks of Bronze", which leads off this volume of tales. "Ranks" dealt with a short, ugly campaign by a group of bought-and-paid-for Roman Legionnaires, the survivors of Crassus' utterly disastrous Parthian campaign. To the aliens, the primitive humans are useful puppets who can be used to conquer other primitive worlds. But THESE puppets have swords, which can cut strings... and their masters' throats.
The stories in this volume range from non-stories like S. M. Stirling's "Three Walls", which is a fairly dull run-of-the-action description of a battle, turned into a story only by a throwaway moment at the end which warns of what is to come in the final story.
There's also "A Clear Signal", which doesn't really feel as if it fully belongs in this book, since the political circumstances described don't match anything else, nor do the Romans even get mention. It's not a bad story, but it really belongs elsewhere.
Drake himself contributes "Lambs to the Slaughter", which I'd call the sprightliest tale in the book, being how one underofficer, known to all and sundry as "Froggie", manages to outwit both his masters and his enemies. I laughed like hell at the ending of this one, and Drake doesn't usually do that for me.
David Weber contributes "Sir George and the Dragon," which serves both as solid entertainment and as a reminder that humans are dangerous, whether they be Romans or English, and a tribute to what has probably been the finest weapon of battle ever created, the English Longbow.
Finally, Eric Flint's "Carthago Delenda Est" is the treasure of this volume, and it was worth getting this volume for this story alone, even without Weber and Drake's work. I don't want to spoil it, but read the other stories first, then read "Carthago." The beauty of this one is that you have to read the story to understand both why and how it ends, and in my case, it took me a few seconds to puzzle it out, but the reward for doing so was to know true joy.
Well worth the time invested.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable set of stories by several authors Sept. 21 2006
By Woofdog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
overall this was an enjoyable read. comments on individual stories/authors follow

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...
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read! June 21 2014
By Lookin for the WOW - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great sequel to the ranks of Bronze… Nice way to wrap up the story... I love to hear more about the legion.
3.0 out of 5 stars For hardcore fans June 12 2014
By Rodion - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
You get five stories, basically. The excerpt from Ranks of Bronxe can hardly be considered as part of the volume.

Sir George and the Dragon

David Weber

Starts out extremely strong, but loses steam progressively. On one hand, Weber makes numerous shoutouts to the original - suggesting he assumes the reader must have finished it by now - but on the other, he spends a fair amount of time going over the same exposition Ranks of Bronze already made. Worse than that, Weber is either unwilling, or unable to actually paint a vivid picture of a medieval army in battle - which is what made the original so compelling. Ultimately, it's just not all that enjoyable.

3

Lambs to the Slaughter

David Drake

Perhaps more like "The Big Fat Kill - in space!" than even typical of Drake, this is, nonetheless, a worthy addition to the Hammer's Slammers, oh excuse me, Ranks of Bronze universe. The story explores life in the legion's lower ranks and makes the distinction between warriors and soldiers even clearer. Personally, I think it's the best of the bunch, despite boasting very little in the way of novelty. Drake simply knows army life better than the others.

4

A Clear Signal

Mark L. Van Name

Buried deep in the book's bowels, this is a very strange story indeed. First off, it's boring, soooo boooooring. We keep switching between "action" scenes and flashes to the backstory. Thing is, they're both equally dull. Van Name must have intended for some of it to be chilling, but frankly, after the mountains of blood and guts in the previous stories (and Drake's own books), it just comes off as underwhelming. Also, it has nothing in common with Ranks of Bronze, except the universe. Just... no.

2

The Three Walls

S.M. Stirling

Another fine illustration of Romans as a modern army with primitive weapons. We don't get much beyond the usual mass murder, but boy, do we get that... For a refreshing change, the legion doesn't stomp all over the opposition and has to earn its living. In this, Stirling has one up over the other guest writers (who remembered what the book is about). In all else, it's a pretty straightforward re-hashing of the old formula.

3

Carthago Delenda Est

Eric Flint

So. Much. Praise... Sure, after everything else, it's a breath of fresh air. A new perspective on old characters, a continuation of the plot and vast, vast amounts of comedy. This one is worth reading, if only for the laughs. On the other hand, there are failings. 1. The antagonists are brutally stupid. It's amazing things lasted as long as they did, if we take Flint's word for the state of the galaxy. 2. Drake tends to sympathize with his characters, but he has no illusions about who they are and what they do. Flint's characters, on the other hand, take a giddy pleasure in killing faceless hordes - ironic, considering the story's protagonist... 3. Suspension of disbelief. It snaps. Fast. From the idiot antagonists, to the brilliant humans, to the psychotic glee with which the latter massacre the former. I was reminded of the movie Starship Troopers more than anything. Maybe, like the movie, this story was meant as satire...

4

Take the mean average and presto.
4.0 out of 5 stars Foreign Legions April 6 2014
By Kay Benjamin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Can't say much about this review .
It is my husbands book
I guess he liked it finished it in a few days
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