Lots of Soldiers Work for Civilians They don't Like,but these Romans had It Worse than Most-Their Commanders were Blue-Skinned Aliens! The guilds of star-traveling merchants had strict rules to prevent their technology from falling into the hands of the natives of planets they were exploiting: military operations had to be carried out with weaponry no more complex than swords and bows. That was no handicap to merchant princes with a galaxy to scour for military slaves to do their fighting for them. Some came to Earth for soldiers and returned to the stars with the best the planet had to offer. For over two thousands years the aliens thought they'd succeeded brilliantly-but then things changed! Set in the universe of Ranks of Bronze, masterful new novellas by: David Drake Eric Flint S. M. Stirling Mark L Van Name and David Weberexplore the bleeding edge between human courage and the science of alien slavemasters. The right man with a sword is just as deadly as a technician with a laser And not all the blood spilled is red! Yesterday they were the best infantry on Earth-Now they're going to take on the whole galaxy. At the publisher's request, this title is sold without DRM (Digital Rights Management).
In his introduction to this solid shared-world anthology, laid in the universe of his novel Ranks of Bronze (in turn developed from a short story reprinted here as the first item), military SF author Drake explains the book's venerable premise: human soldiers (in this case, Romans from the lost legions of Crassus) have been enslaved by star-traveling aliens who need low-tech mercenaries. Of the stories, David Weber's "Sir George and the Dragon," Drake's "Lambs to the Slaughter" and S.M. Stirling's "The Three Walls 32nd Campaign" are all conventional if substantially above-average military SF. (It's hard to resist a centurion nicknamed Raninunculus, i.e., "Froggy.") Mark L. Van Name's "A Clear Signal" distinguishes itself by its focus on the ethical issues created for humans by access to the aliens' high technology and for aliens by access to a supply of desperate human beings. Finally, Eric Flint's "Carthago Delenda Est" combines passion and zaniness in about equal measure, a mixture that has worked for its author in novel length and now seems to prosper in his shorter pieces. Neither the basic proposition nor most of the development in individual stories will win high marks for originality, but military-historical scholarship and narrative techniques are another matter, as one might expect from the roster of authors. In addition, one learns a good deal about the background of the Roman guilds and federation and how a "benign" federation might look from the point of view of its illegal immigrants doing its dirty work.