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Book cover art by Josh Kirby.
Review © 2001 by Thomas M. Wagner.
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The second Prescot novel shows Akers settling into his Burroughs riff comfortably, offering readers who like that sort of thing exactly what they expect. Prescot again finds himself mysteriously transported to Kregen. He knows he is a pawn in some plan of the Star Lords, though over exactly who they are and what this plan is there rests complete obscurity. One thing seems certain to Prescot (though again, no explanation is given — it's just something we have to take as a given): these Star Lords don't want Prescot making any direct attempt to reunite with his beloved Delia. Prescot finds himself enslaved in the city of Magdag, where countless megaliths are built by armies of sweating slaves, only to stand empty and abandoned, a testament to hubris. Unwilling to join in a planned revolt (and in fact beating up the leader of it), he is waylaid by fellow slaves who toss him aboard a ship to work as an oarsman in the galleys.

Prescot eventually frees himself and reaches the city of Sanurkazz, whose natives are sworn enemies of Magdag. In a weird display of moral insouciance, Akers has Prescot remarkably indifferent to the plight of galley slaves owned by Sanurkazz, though he himself has just escaped similar bondage on a Magdag ship (where his dear friend Zorg has been whipped to death before his eyes).'s just on and on to more adventures. See, that's the screwy thing about the Prescot novels: none of them have stories. They just consist of a series of swashbuckling action-packed scenes, one after another. Apart from reuniting with Delia, Prescot doesn't have a goal, and the "plot" doesn't really have any issue upon which there is a narrative focus requiring resolution. Thus the book is a boring exercise, despite numerous sea battles and swordfights written with evident enthusiasm. At one point even Akers seems to be getting bored with the proceedings. He stops one scene cold, right in mid-stream (explaining it with some silliness about how a cassette is missing; the premise underlying these novels is that Akers is actually just transcribing the adventures of Dray Prescot as he hears them on interview tapes) and cuts directly to the middle of another raging sea battle, months later. It's as if he feels that donating even so much as a single paragraph to things like character or plot development will annoy his readers. Maybe it would. Whatever. No one in this book is a believable person, and even as heroic archetypes they're deadly dull.

In aping the antiquarian beauty of Burroughs' literary style, Akers does a good job of evoking a suitable sense of exoticism when describing the towns, cities, peoples and places Prescot encounters in his travels. A terrific sense of place is perhaps Akers' best quality as a storyteller. Too bad he hasn't got much else going for him. I can accept a whole raft of silly clichés and even the odd plot hole in my swashbuckling escapism, provided the damn story is fun. That's the part Akers doesn't really pull off. And escapism that isn't very fun is rather pointless, wouldn't you say?

Followed by Warrior of Scorpio.