The Lion of Lucca

lion of luccaI just finished the second Gardner Fox historical novel after loving The Borgia Blade. This one, The Lion of Lucca, didn’t thrill me nearly as much. Any time that there were tactics or battle scenes, it was great stuff. The rest of the time I was reading a romance novel from a guy’s perceptive, which meant that there wasn’t much about what anyone was feeling, just a whole lot of admittedly well-written descriptions of lovely renaissance women getting it on with the protagonist.

fox gold medalI kept at the book, although the fact that it was pretty short and it took me at least a week and a half to read should probably red flag you that I had to take it in small doses. I felt was like watching a movie made by two different directors and spliced together. You know, soft core porn guy alternated with clever historical re-enactment guy.

It was just a little odd. There were some racy scenes in The Borgia Blade, but they meshed much more smoothly with the plot, and I cared more when they happened because I cared more about the characters.

Anyway, as a result, I’m less enthusiastic about exploring the rest of Gardner Fox’s historical novels, although I’ll probably give him another go eventually. I mentioned how pleased I was with The Borgia Blade the other day and Chris Hocking pointed out that it had first been published by Gold Medal, then waxed eloquent about the excellence of their editorial team, and how he’d never actually read a bad Gold Medal book. Some were just fair, sure, but he said most in his experience were good to excellent. Perhaps that famed editorial team brought out the best in Fox’s first book.

I’ve just now performed a cursory search and found that there are, indeed, several more Gold Medal books by Fox. Maybe I’ll try those if I can land them for decent prices. My birthday’s coming up next month, after all.

One Comment on “The Lion of Lucca

  1. Well, I have to qualify that remark about never having read a bad Gold Medal novel. I’ve found their standards to be remarkably high but I have, in truth, read two Gold Medal Originals that were not good.
    The Chinese Keyhole by Richard Himmel (1951)
    Naked Ebony by Dan Cushman (1951). Cushman has a reputation as a good pulpster, and he’s said to have written at least one Ki-Gor novel, but this book was notable only in that it never, ever made up it’s mind what it was about.

    Still, that’s two books out of a pretty huge pile. While I’m sure there are other turkeys in the pen, GM is one of the most reliable publishers I know.

    I have another Gold Medal by Fox– Woman of Kali (1954) “In her temple of exotic love the fate of an empire was decided”. Sounds more like The Lion of Lucca than The Borgia Blade.

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