The Druid King - Norman Spinrad

Reviewed for Usenet (or see Google archive).

The Druid King
Norman Spinrad
Little, Brown publishers
ISBN: 0316861588 (Amazon link)

This is a fictionalised account of a famous episode from Caesar's Gallic Wars - Caesar vs Vercingetorix, now a French national hero. The Druid King should be a decent tale, full of colourful characters, events, and some set-pieces that would be dismissed as fanciful if they weren't recorded history. (Okay, so Caesar did much of his own reporting, still...)

It's not. It's the most dismal, passionless tale ever, with a few too many, "As you know Bob" scenes to convince me that the author cared much about what he was writing. The actual writing is technically proficient, and even effective in places, but there's almost no characterisation and the pacing is terrible. Bah, I can't even be bothered to write the rest of the review. C-.

Ferchrisakes, this is the only book I've ever read where Caesar comes across as boring... Oh, yes, mythic elements; some interest near the end when the theme of Vercingetorix of King-who-must-die-so-his-nation-can-be-born is made clear. (It's made clear by beating the reader around the head with it repeatedly.) Much of the Caesar-vs-Vercingetorix interaction is framed in terms of mythic characters in the Land Of Legend. Clumsily done.

Posted: Mon - March 31, 2003 at 07:24 PM