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‘The Blue Devils’
Rally Cry by William R. Forstchen
© 2015 James LaFond
JUL/1/15
1990, ROC, NY, 412 pages
Rally Cry begins in classic Edgar Rice Burroughs fashion, with the story of authentic, historically placed protagonists, soon swept away into a fantasy setting. William R. Forstchen went the extra mile and researched the 35th Maine infantry regiment, and presents actual historical people as protagonists. There is also the attached artillery unit and the transport ship that gets sucked into a space-time warp in the Bermuda Triangle while redeploying to the Carolinas from Petersburg in the last stage of the American Civil War.
What Colonel Keane and his men discover, upon recovering from the storm on a tideless beach, is that they are on a different world, with a different sun. The world is populated by the descendents of medieval Russians—which is getting really medieval. The author dips into history and gives us an alien race of giant cannibalistic nomads that are in fact, what Christian Europe believed the Mongols were—beings from hell sent as the punishment of God. The situation among the earlier earth transplants is nearly identical to that of the actual medieval Russians living under the Mongol Yoke.
Even the monstrous enemy is depicted sympathetically. The grimy reality of medieval humanity is well wrought, compared to the Celtic fantasy setting that most moderns pine for in fiction.
Rally Cry is an action packed and thoughtful novel about men struggling in an alien world. The plot focuses heavily on battle and social reform. The jingoistic Yankee worldview of the Colonel and his men which they intend to use to reshape a barbaric deluded society, wears thin in 2015, after living with the delusional barbarity wrought by politicized Yankee Puritanism in our own time. But it was still a great read, and Forstchen deserves credit for a man-readable adventure.
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