This is pure, delightful pulp fiction, under a thin veneer of being literary fiction.
Frankly, I don't know how this novel got past the editors of SchThis is pure, delightful pulp fiction, under a thin veneer of being literary fiction.
Frankly, I don't know how this novel got past the editors of Scholastic Books, but I'm glad it did. I first read the Scholastic Books edition of the novel at age thirteen, feeling guilty because I enjoyed the slave's trials and tribulations way too much. Many years later, when I mentioned this 1968 historical novel during a discussion at LiveJournal among a bunch of us who read and wrote slave fiction, I discovered I was not alone in remembering this story.
I bought "Greek Slave Boy" this year through a used bookseller, not knowing what to expect. My faint memory was that the novel wasn't very well written, but that it had a killer ending. Both facts proved to be true; this is the sort of novel that Rosemary Sutcliff might have written, if she hadn't been such a talented writer. (In fact, the master & slave friendship subplot strikingly parallels Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth.) "Greek Slave Boy" has the seeds of greatness in it, but Lillian Carroll unfortunately didn't have the skill to convey that greatness.
What is left is a rip-roaring thriller in the pulp tradition, written in a quasi-classical style. Like most pulp stories, it's filled to the brim with hurt/comfort. This is clear, not only from Robert Geary's illustrations (the cover gives fair warning of what the reader is in for), but also from the blurb of the Scholastic Books edition:
"He was the son of a rich man. But now the young man is a slave - captured by pirates, beaten and starved, sold to a savage master. When he and his friend try to escape, his master orders, 'Death! Public execution!' The horrors of slavery, the cruelty of ancient Rome, from the pages of history."
Recommended for readers with a taste for pulp fiction. The rest of you are better off reading Sutcliff's Outcast....more
Mildly good suspense, setting, and character development. Ordinarily, that's all I'd think, but as always when I'm reading a military fiction author IMildly good suspense, setting, and character development. Ordinarily, that's all I'd think, but as always when I'm reading a military fiction author I haven't read before, I checked to see whether MacInnes had military experience. Here's what Wikipedia told me: "[Her husband] Gilbert Highet served as an MI6 British intelligence agent . . . MacInnes's third novel, 'Assignment in Brittany' , was required reading for Allied intelligence agents who were being sent to work with the French resistance against the Nazis. Her 1944 book, 'The Unconquerables' carries such an accurate portrayal of the Polish resistance that some thought she was using classified information given to her by her husband." I immediately added MacInnes to my "Must try all their novels" list....more