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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Anyone who likes alternate history novels or enjoys reading anything pertaining to the Roman Empire, or both, will enjoy Foreign Legions, a collection of novellas based on David Drake's 1975 short story -- and later novel -- Ranks of Bronze. Drake's original short story begins the collection: As his fans already know, the story was based on an actual battle that occurred in 53 B.C., when Marcus Crassus led his Roman army into Parthia and was soundly defeated. Crassus was killed, and his tens of thousands of legionnaires were sold into slavery or used as mercenaries. In Drake's story, the legionnaires are sold to aliens, who use them as galactic butt-kickers. It seems the aliens are part of a United Nations-type organization that has outlawed the use of modern technology against primitive races. The aliens make the soldiers almost indestructible and use them to fight their wars.
Aside from Drake's short story, there are five novellas in the collection -- including stories from David Weber, Mark L. Van Name, S. M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. The strength of the collection is its diversity. Stirling and Flint's stories revolve around characters from the original story; Drake's stories use new characters; and Weber's "Sir George and the Dragon" retells the story through the eyes of 14th-century Normans. But my favorite was Van Name's "A Clear Signal," a modern-day suspense story that plots friend against friend. Or does it? The aliens are desperately seeking a scientist who was resurrected in order to help them achieve some horrific goals. But now he's escaped with top-secret information, and the only man who can find him is an old friend, Matt Stark. (Paul Goat Allen)