About the Author:
Born in Los Angeles, USA, in 1949, Harry Turtledove has a Ph.D in Byzantine history from UCLA. He is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos and they have three daughters; Alison, Rachel and Rebecca.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
The Misplaced Legion
The first book of the Videssos Cycle. The premise behind this book is that a group of Roman soldiers, from the time of Julius Caesar, are transported to a fantasy realm, where they have to try and find a place for themselves.
The way Turtledove brings about these events is rubbish, to be blunt. A Roman tribune and a Gaul chieftain both happen to have magical swords crafted by rival Druids, and when these swords clash there's a flash of light and suddenly the Romans and the Gaul are somewhere else. There is little or no explanation of why these swords should do this or why a Roman tribune would have a Druid sword in the first place.
However, once that contrived nonsense is out of the way, things pick up rapidly. I really enjoyed reading about how the displaced soldiers bring the ideas and tactics of Rome to the fantasy Empire of Videssos, which in itself is a very well-realised creation. I also enjoyed the unusual ending in which the outnumbered heroes have to make the best of a defeat rather than overcome overwhelming odds, as happens in most other fantasy, and I enjoyed reading the scene of the fighting withdrawl.
Aside from the daft beginning, one other thing brings the quality of this book down; the character of Viridovix. I simply found him to be a constant irritant, with his little pearls of barbarian wisdom, and the sudden dissipation of animosity between him and the Romans is just too hard to credit.
3 out of 5