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Ranks of Bronze (Earth Legions #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,133 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The aliens were looking for a few good fighters, warriors who could be brave without blasters, and content with shields of bronze...

What they got were Romans...

Gaius Vibulenas: From a raw kid, he became an accomplished soldier—and a leader of men.

Quartilla: She was everything a man could want—you would never guess she wasn't human.

Pompilius Niger: He learned young that the

Paperback, 314 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Baen Books (first published 1986)
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Ranks of Bronze is a military science fiction story with much emphasis on the “military” aspect. It features soldiers from ancient Rome who have been recruited by an odd commander to fight various odd enemies, which they’re transported to via odd methods while enjoying odd forms of recuperation and entertainment between battles. The characters don’t really understand what’s going on, but it’s easy enough for the reader to extrapolate given the knowledge that this is a science fiction book.

The st
Dixie A.
Feb 28, 2015 Dixie A. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
So I chose to read this book, because it was listed as first in the series of which The Excalibur Alternative is the third. The Excalibur Alternative is a stand alone book; it didn't require reading this one to understand it. Which is a good thing. The sad thing, however, is that it required reading The Excalibur Alternative to understand this book.

This book has no introduction, no lead-up to the action. It doesn't explain how the situation it starts with occurred or even what the situation is t
Jul 13, 2015 Craig rated it really liked it
Drake is at his best, I believe, when he lets his passion for Roman history and human spirit take over and writes a tale of good-versus-evil conflict. It's a combination of themes he's revisited frequently in his work, and, even though you know from the start that you can't keep a good Legionnaire down, it's always an exciting and entertaining experience to read. Ranks of Bronze is among his best.
May 05, 2011 Checkman rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Military science fiction fans.
I've always believed that some of David Drake's best works are his novels mixing science fiction and the Roman Empire. Having been a Roman history buff for as long as I can remember one could argue that I'm rather biased. However in my opinion Ranks of Bronze rates up there with another of his Roman novel's, Birds of Prey. I don't read Drake books like I used to. Way back in high school and college (eighties) I read his novels almost religiously. But as I've gotten older I've drifted away from S ...more
May 27, 2013 Curtis rated it really liked it
This is a 3 star book with a bonus star for a fun concept. Ive heard tell this was based on a short story on the same subject, and that makes a lot of sense considering how much fat there is to cut here. Anywho, Romans get abducted by aliens to fight in low tech wars on undeveloped planets to secure trade rights due to space legislation against just firebombing the locals to paste and taking all there things. So a flimsy pretext to have centurions and the like, on some crazy planet somewhere and ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Aliens Were Looking For a Few Good Fighters, Warriors Who Could Be Brave Without Blasters, and Content With Shields of Bronze ... What They Got Were Romans ... Gaius Vibulenas: From a raw kid, he became an accomplished soldier-and a leader of men. Quartilla: She was everything a man could want-you would never guess she wasn't human. Pompilius Niger: He learned young that the worst dangers a soldier faces come from those who give him his orders. Clodius Afer: A veteran, he didn't ask question

Jan 23, 2013 Steven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the premise, but the execution is lacking. There isn't really a lot of character development...some is attempted, but the characters themselves feel really hard to connect to, which hampers things. The book would be better if it were 25-50% longer, with almost all the extra time spent in the ship or explaining how the Federation / trading syndicate works. This could patch up the book's two truck-sized plot holes: A) why are these aliens bothering to use legionnaires at all, and why haven' ...more
The basic premise is fun. The development of the characters is a little off, but works well enough. The battles described in this book would really lend themselves quite well to tabletop scifi/fantasy mash-up battles using miniatures. It was tough (also perhaps a little unfair) to read this book after just reading the first couple of Harry Turtledove's Videssos Cycle, which has tons of excellent historical detail...which made Drake's work feel a lot lighter, almost pulp-level in its sparseness.
Christopher Walls
I am a huge David Drake fan and always enjoy his plots. This one was about a Roman Legion that was bought and used to 'negotiate' trade deals for bronze/iron age worlds. It did feel short, I understand the desire/need to churn out a book every year and I'm assuming that sequels/trilogies and such must pay well, but I have a tendency to forget about a series and this book definitely left me hanging. That being said, it is a David Drake book and a quick read for the airplane trips.
Dec 20, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Roman legion is kidnapped to fight low-tech wars for an alien guild on primitive planets. It's slavery by a different name and the aliens' best-laid plans are only good until the battle starts. This is a novel version of the story by the same name in Foreign Legions, a collection of several stories in the same vein.
George Riggs
Mar 25, 2015 George Riggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I like most of David Drake novels. This one was up my alley. Mix of Roman and the future. Good light read.
The shorter version of this was absolutely superb. The longer version really waters down the basic story, I thought. I'd give a five to it if it was all like the short version.
Bob Stuhlsatz
The premise for the book is pretty weak. A highly advanced alien race kidnap a /roman legion and use them as their fighting troops.
Jan 09, 2011 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great character development - the description of the Roman legion and tactics is right on the money - - a very, very good read
Oct 06, 2009 Malin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get through the first chapter. I don't like military books/films so I suspect that's why.
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David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre.
More about David Drake...

Other Books in the Series

Earth Legions (3 books)
  • Foreign Legions (Earth Legions, #2)
  • The Excalibur Alternative (Earth Legions, #3)

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