Will fans of Louis L'Amour be willing to follow him out of the Old West and into the late 12th century? If so (or if they...

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THE WALKING DRUM

Will fans of Louis L'Amour be willing to follow him out of the Old West and into the late 12th century? If so (or if they pick up this Western-sounding title by mistake), what they'll get is a serviceable, meandering picaresque adventure--generously stocked with combat/derring-do action, uneasily larded with little medieval-history lessons. The one-dimensional narrator/hero is young Mathurin Kerbouchard, Celt/Frank son of a famed pirate who's been reported dead somewhere in Asia. So, surviving an attack on the family place in Brittany by the evil Baron Tournemine, Kerbouchard sets off to find his father--with mishaps, ordeals, and adventures along the way. He's promptly captured by petty pirates who make him a galley slave on a Spain-bound ship. ""Was I, the son of Kerbouchard the Corsair, to stand for this?"" Of course not. So when they reach Cadiz (""my port of destiny""), Kerbouchard leads a mutiny, sells the ship out from under the pirates, and heads for Cordoba--to study and listen for news of his father. There, however, he must rescue the Princess Aziza from villainous Ibn-Haram--an attempt which leads to the first of many imprisonments and escapes. He flees, adopts a disguise, becomes a scholar, meets other damsels-in-distress, battles hired assassins. Then, hooking up with caravan-leader Rupert von Gilderstern, he heads north for a vengeance assault on Baron Tournemine, now learning that his father is a slave in the Caspian fortress of Alamut, held by the Assassin sect. So, after an educational spell in Paris (""The language of the students was Latin, and for this reason a part of the area became known as the Latin Quarter""), he heads east with the caravan to Kiev, flirting with the Comtesse Suzanne. (""Do you believe, for one minute, that I would allow you, a vagabond, a landless man, to make love to me?"") And finally, after surviving a massacre-battle with the Petchenegs, ""forerunners of the great Mongol tribes,"" Kerbouchard gets some Constantinople support from the Emperor, meets yet another princess. . . and arrives at Alamut just in time to save his father from castration. Okay on action, thin on character and authentic atmosphere: somewhat juvenile entertainment, and likely stuff for only a portion of L'Amour's readership.

Pub Date: June 1, 1984

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1984