Here is the last Foreign Legion pulp story for this year. It’s written by Georges Surdez and was featured as a “Foreign Legion Novelette” in the August 1939 issue of Adventure. I’ve not read it yet but will do so tonight and comment on the story later on. It weighs in at a hefty 22MB (34 pages and five graphics). I prefer the black and white appearance of these stories as they are usually easier to read so I tried out a new program called Scan Tailor. There were some “incompetent user” issues with selecting the content of each page and also some problems getting the size of the .tif’s down to a manageable level. You might want to right-click-save-as to your desktop before opening.
Notes: I think Man at Arms is one of the best of Georges Surdez’s Foreign Legion tales. He really developed and breathed extra life into his characters especially Guarnec–the lumbering Breton and closest friend (and bad influence) of Sergent Fremont. The generic backdrop of conflict in this story is North Africa after WWI with the French pitted against non-specific Berber enemies. It’s an ideal setting for any classic Foreign Legion story and Surdez does not let himself get bogged down with any historical facts and details but at the same time he is accurate in his description of terrain, tactics, weapons, and the Foreign Legion. His approach to writing about the Foreign Legion (and to be fair, so is that of Robert Carse but to a lesser degree J. D. Newsom and Ted Roscoe) is similar to the good writers of westerns. Western fans enjoy the cowboy lingo, accurate descriptions of weapons, horses, Indians and the old West and don’t care too much about exactly what year such and such event occurred. Fans of the Foreign Legion genre enjoy the varied backgrounds and quirks of each character, rich examples about the Legion’s traditions and toughness on and off the battlefield, a bit of French, Arabic and maybe German lingo thrown into the dialog for spice, and the exotic settings of conflict such as the Sahara desert, the Rif Mountains or the jungles of Tonkin. What’s important in both genres is a compelling story and lots of action and Surdez delivers the goods here in large quantities but he also clearly understands the Foreign Legion like no other fiction writer. In fact, it is certain Foreign Legion traditions and their concepts of harsh but fair discipline that play a big role in this tale.