Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rogue Sword by Poul Anderson

Rogue Sword is an historical swashbuckler by Poul Anderson that dates from 1960. It is widely labeled as “science fiction” or “fantasy” because of the author’s many others works in those genres, but this is strictly an historical adventure novel, and a great one. The protagonist is Lucas Greco, an adventurer who joins the Grand Catalan Company, all mercenaries at odds with the Turks. Greco is the bastard son of a Venetian nobleman and a Cretan woman. He is bold, daring, skilled at fighting, and a ladies man of sorts. With the late Roman era as its backdrop, Poul Anderson crafts an action-packed thriller. The Grand Catalan Company was an actual historic group, and Anderson proves that he can handle a traditional historical adventure with the same skill that made his science fiction stories so compelling. This is one of those early 80s reprint paperbacks I picked up because I liked both the cover and the author. I had no clue that Poul Anderson had written a historical novel. The back cover blurb accurately reflects the tone and scope of the novel: “From the golden city of Venice to bloody Gallipoli, from the barbaric stretches of northern Europe to the smoldering earth of Byzantium, plundering hordes of every description hacked and tore at the once-mighty Roman Empire. The giant of the world was faltering, bleeding from a thousand wounds as it tried to hold its snarling enemies at bay. These were days of savagery and splendor, when wanton fury fed men’s souls and only the powerful endured……Scarred by war and love, he yearned for the promise of peace which could only be found in the arms of a beautiful pagan slave girl.” Poul Anderson was always fun to read and Rogue Sword is recommended for readers looking for historical adventure with a hard-boiled edge. This is it.

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