Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Misplaced Legion by Harry Turtledove

The Misplaced Legion
Review written January, 2000
Well, this is the first book I've read by Turtledove, and it seems to me that it has some promise. This is the first in a series called the Videssos Cycle, and I'm hoping that as I continue to read through the cycle, things will continue to improve. If not, I'll let you know.
The book begins with a legion of Roman soldiers who have invaded Gaul being sucked into some sort of interdimensional portal because of the clash of two druidic swords weilded by their leader and the leader of the Gauls. They arrive in the land of Videssos, where magic works, and the Videssians are involved in a titanic conflict with the barbarians who worship the evil god of darkness and cold - while they, of course, worship the god of light and warmth.
The empire of Videssos has some wonderfully scheming courtiers and bureaucrats, and while the Romans rapidly hire on as mercenaries for the current emperor, it's not automatically apparent that they've made the right choice. Turtledove has chosen to use some Greek-sounding names for most of the Videssians, and sometimes it's a little tough identifying the players without a scorecard, but the plotting keeps things interesting during the first two-thirds of the book, which would otherwise be seriously lacking in action.
We really don't get a taste of battle till the very end of this novel, but I've got to assume there's a lot more in store in the rest of the series. Turtledove seems to shy away from graphic depictions of either violence or sex, so these books make the "G" rating for younger readers.
Bottom line - not awesome, but amusing, so if you can pick up a copy at the used bookstore, it'd probably be best for all concerned.

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