Monday, March 15, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 40 (3/15) -- Crogan's March by Chris Schweizer

I've been told that the frame story in Chris Schweizer's "Crogan" books -- in which a modern-day doctor tells stories from the adventures of his sensation-seeking forbears to his young sons -- was strongly requested or imposed on Schweizer by his publisher; I don't know if that's true, but I'd like to believe it. The frame stories -- both in this book and its predecessor, Crogan's Vengeance -- are entirely unnecessary, and serve only to turn an only mildly didactic story into a thuddingly obvious one. The boys and their father feel mustier and more old-fashioned than the historical stories they introduce, like refugees from some '50s "Boy's Own" series. Luckily, the frame story is more vestigial here than it was in Vengeance, so I can hope that Schweizer is attempting to minimize the role of the modern rugrats in his series.

The central story this time follows Peter Crogan, fighting with the French Foreign Legion in North Africa in 1912. Crogan's unit suffers under a demanding sergeant and from the contempt of the regular French Zouaves -- and that's before they get their new dashing commander and find themselves in the middle of a local tribal conflict.

As with Vengeance, Schweizer is working in a traditional area, and he's well aware of the cliches. That doesn't mean he avoids the cliches -- he's writing an old-fashioned adventure story, with equally traditional morals, so this desert epic has sandstorms and oases, secret tunnels and bar fights, hopeless sieges and daring escapes, mysterious monsters and shocking endings...everything but Fort Zinderneuf. It's a rousing adventure, though, again, that frame story does tend to put the whole enterprise into a juvenile box -- but that's OK.

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Hem - A-Hunting We Will Go
via FoxyTunes

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