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    Review of FOR KING AND COUNTRY by Robert Asprin and Linda Evans

    Baen, August 2002

    The 'troubles' continue to tear Northern Ireland apart with the IRA and the Orangemen both killing and butchering one another while the British army tries to keep peace and managing only to wind up the target for both sides. When he's injured in an Orangeman bombing, Captain Trevor Stirling is sent back to Britain--where British intelligence indicates that the Irish terrorists intend to attempt the ultimate terrorist strike. British scientists have been researching time travel. If the IRA could go back in time, they might be able to change history in Ireland's favor--even if it meant a change in the fabric of time so complete that Stirling's present would be eradicated.

    Stirling arrives too late. A scientist has already been murdered and two scientists, one Stirling's lead suspect, have headed back in time. Stirling follows--and finds himself in the era of 'King' Arthur.

    The Arthur Stirling finds has little relation to the romantic fantasies spun by Medieval couriers. Instead, he and the British Kingdoms he fights for are battling Irish, Pict, and Saxon invaders, attempting to preserve Roman/Celtic civilization in Britain against great odds. Although Stirling is sympathetic to the British goals, complete defeat of the Saxons would transform history. But wouldn't the IRA love it if they could arrange for British Celts to defeat the Saxon invaders and ensure that the English conquest of Ireland never took place?

    Authors Robert Asprin and Linda Evans (see more reviews of novels by Evans) build an intriguing story line out of a fascinating period in British (and world) history. Germanic invaders have destroyed the Western Roman Empire, but civilization remains. The British trade with Spain, Italy, what is now Russia, and even Constantinople. Their heavy cavalry makes them effective warriors against the Saxon infantry but the internal bickering between their many kingdoms leaves them open to attack. Asprin and Evans give us Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin, Morgana, Gwain, and the others as they might have been (with Romanized rather than French names).

    History buffs will note a few errors (e.g., Asprin/Evans refer to the Visigoth occupation of Italy when they should have said Ostrogoth). From a story perspective, I would have liked to see Stirling's confusion about the identity of the two visitors from the future matter more to the plot, and the resolution seemed to be a bit easy to me. Still, if, like me you're a fan of historical warfare and of how pivotal events in history influence the future, you'll want to read FOR KING AND COUNTRY.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 6/13/05

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