Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Reading #3: The Purple Quest

Frank G. Slaughter's novel "of seafaring adventure and royal intrigue in the ancient world" takes place in the ancient Phoenician city state of Tyre and follows the journey of Straton, sailor and major He-Man of the story, and his quest to save his city from Assyrian invaders. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Straton's story is really the story of how the love triangle between him, the daughter of a Greek merchant, and his former lover, Queen Dido, shaped the founding of Carthage.

This novel was kind of a chore to read at times. I appreciate Slaughter's attention to historic detail, but there were times when the prose read too much like a history lesson. The action did pick up halfway through the book. I liked the naval battle for the city of Arvad where Straton's massive warship plowed through the entire Assyrian fleet and was all like "BEEP-BEEP, MOTHER$&@%! I GOT A BRONZE HULL AND YOU DON'T!"

The part that made me laugh was the night before this epic sea battle. Straton is sitting alone in his room aboard his kick-ass ship thinking about the coming battle. The Greek girl he fell in love with rushes in and they start talking all lovey-dovey. Straton and the girl look into each others eyes. They could die tomorrow at the hands of the numerically superior Assyrian fleet. This could be their last night together. But what does Straton say?

"I desire you with every fiber of my body. But I also want you to be the mother of my children, the wife I will come home to at night, the strong staff I can lean upon in time of trouble and uncertainty, and the compassion of our declining years. Such a union is not built in a night of passion before sailing on a hazardous mission, Hera. It is built in marriage and a gradual understanding of each other through the years."

Sheesh. What a buzz kill.
Now, to be fair, what Straton says does establish a healthy relationship in a marriage, but COME ON!

Anyway, for a novel written in 1965 it holds up pretty well and made an interesting read. I didn't hate it, but I won't be sailing with Captain Buzz Kill again any time soon.

Next up is Louis L'Amour's "Last of the Breed."

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