Seventh in the long-running Richard Blade men’s adventure series (thirty-seven English-language books plus as many as 150(!) more French-language books that continued the series after it stopped being published in English).
I’ve now read all of the first seven books in the series and they all follow the same premise: the Brits discover a means for sending a human into other dimensions so they send MI6 agent Richard Blade (very much in the James Bond mold) into a different dimension every book. They have no control over where he goes and only have a loose ability to bring him back while desired. They’re always experimenting with new computer equipment and so sometimes they can communicate with him and sometimes not. Sometimes he can resist being brought back to Earth, sometimes not. Because this program is extremely expensive, they’re always after him to bring back valuables from his visits; sometimes he’s able to do that, sometimes not. It’s not clear to me if they could send him to the same location a second time, but thus far they haven’t. Blade is always concerned at the start of each novel with how the journeys are affecting his brain (he gets a couple hundred electrodes jammed into his brain and body before each trip), but it’s unclear if they’ll ever do anything with this anxiety. Oh and the series is also notable because of its erotic content, which is not usually graphic, but is a bit more explicit than you find in most other men’s adventure novels.
All were penned by house name “Jeffrey Lord,” but supposedly the prolific Manning Lee Stokes wrote the first eight books, with Roland J. Green taking over the reins for the remainder of the English language books (save for one written by Ray Faraday Nelson). Sadly, I only own the Stokes books plus one random Green book (#29 in the series) so I have no idea how the premise of the series changes over time or how much the writing style changes from Stokes to Green. I enjoy the series (I read men’s adventure novels while riding my recumbent bike in the basement) and will pick up the rest of the series as I locate them.
Plot spoilers follow.
As with almost all the dimensions that Blade gets sent to, he travels to a “fantasy” setting with three rival city-states, two of which are in the process of being conquered by the third (guess my old international relations profs were right about a tripolar international system being the most unstable of all possible power configurations). As with most of the Blade novels, Blade befriends a physically deformed, lower-class man who provides him with information about the world and later supports him when the action gets going and becomes romantically entangled with an upper-class, semi-nymphomaniac woman whose social position is in jeopardy. I’m not kidding: the typical Richard Blade plot is that formulaic and this novel is no different. Here, Blade helps a living “goddess” escape her doomed city, befriending a deserting soldier with missing teeth along the way. They all end up on the island dominated by another city-state led by a high priestess/living goddess who is the first woman’s grandmother. This city is ill-prepared for war, mostly being a caste of effetes ruling over a large group of slaves who are kept constantly drugged and docile. Blade manages to mount a defense of the island, defeat the leader of the invaders in single combat on the beach, and helps the living “goddess” sacrifice herself for the good of the island. Oh and there’s a bit of mysticism here because she really is some kind of mystical being that serves the island’s volcano (or something like that) and we see a bit of what appears to be an actual magical ritual at the end of the book before Blade is wisked back to London.
I give this one 3 stars out of 5. If you’ve enjoyed the other Blade books so far, you’ll probably want to continue reading the series with this one, but it’s forgettable because it follows the Blade formula so closely and is pretty much run-of-the-mill. Not bad for the genre by any mean,s but not awesome either.
Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers