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Posts Tagged ‘Casca Rufio Longinus’

Casca #6: The Persian – book review
This volume is number six in the “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary” book series.  “Casca #6: The Persian” (1982©) was written by Barry Sadler.  For those of you who haven’t read my other reviews, Casca is Casca Rufio Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced the side of Jesus of Nazareth while he was being crucified.  Just before dying, Jesus tells Casca that he is happy in his role and that he will remain the same until they meet again.  Each volume tells some of Casca’s life over the last two thousand years as he awaits the second coming of Jesus.
Because Casca doesn’t age, every 20 or 30 years he must travel to avoid questions about why he doesn’t seem to get older.  In a prior volume (number 3), Casca was in China.  In this, he is returning to the West and pauses to deliver a message from the emperor of China to the King of the Persians warning of impending attacks from the Huns.  Casca falls into service for the King (Shapur II) and this covers the few years of that service.
This episode has two interesting sub-stories (for me).  The first involves a re-enactment of a battle tactic Casca first saw in China.  As the enemy advances, you have a line of “volunteers” step forward and cut their throats in front of the enemy.  This is said to surprise and then terrify the Hun warriors.  They turn to flee and are then defeated in detail as they try to retreat / run away.  Casca relates this tactic to Shapur who decides he wants to try it and see if it works.  He sends Casca out with an under-manned force, but with several times the number of “volunteers” as the Chinese used.  The tactic works again and Casca is able to defeat the Huns even though out-numbered by several times his own force.
The second sub-story is about Casca’s “curse”.  Because he cannot be killed, each volume has a point where the miracle / curse must be demonstrated.  In prior stories, Casca has been drowned, buried alive, poisoned, fed to crabs and had his heart cut out and one hand completely cut off.  In this episode, the king judges Casca to have become too popular with the army so he decides to trump up some charges of treason and then have Casca burned alive.  Of course Casca survives, but the execution and recovery are explained in graphic detail.  As a reader, you almost feel you are sharing Casca’s pain.
There is a third story-line which also ties back to the earlier Chinese episode, but I’ve already given too much of the story away.  Final recommendation: another strong recommendation.
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On This Day In:
2014 Hey, I Resemble That Remark… (4!)
2013 Sit, Put, Until…
2012 Lessons For My Son
2011 Reaching The Right Audience
2010 Christmas Trees and Profession of Faith

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Casca #5: The Barbarian   —  book review
Today’s review is for the fifth book in the “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary” series titled: Casca: The Barbarian (1981©), written by Barry Sadler.  In this episode, Casca meets up with a Germanic / Norse tribesman named Glam and the story revolves are their adventures together over the next 30 to 40 years.  Basically, Glam leads Casca around northern Europe and Casca takes over a “hold”.  Casca over-throws the vicious lord of the hold and subsequently marries his daughter.  Thus, Casca gains and ultimately loses the second great love of his life.  Glam gives Casca one of his nicknames: “The Walker”.
All of these volumes have now fallen into their standard formula: character intro, travel around a bit, a few minor fights, a little bit of history, a major battle, and then some resolution before Casca has to wander off.  Today’s title refers to a scene in the book where the original lord of the hold has a wall at the tides edge staked.  When he wishes to execute someone (but not be “responsible” for the death), he has them staked with just their head above the high tide.  The crabs do their work during the night and only the head (and skeleton) is left the following morning.  Of course, the “curse” saves Casca (again).
If you are into adult / male historical fiction – with lots of geography, historical background and battles, this continues to be a very satisfying series.  Final recommendation: strong recommendation.
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On This Day In:
2014 Beyond Proof
2013 Poor Students Of History
2012 Between Two Worlds
2011 Common Humanity
2010 The Last Two Olympians

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Today’s book review is for “Casca: Panzer Soldier” (1980©) written by Barry Sadler.  This is book four in the “Casca – The Eternal Mercenary” series.  This is a re-read for me.  My first reading would have been sometime in the early to mid-1980’s.
Casca Rufio Longinus is the legendary Roman soldier who slayed Christ with a spear.  Just prior to dying, the Messiah tells Casca: “You are satisfied with what you are and so you shall remain until we meet again.”  Thus began the (series and) adventures of Casca across two-thousand years (and counting).
In this volume, Carl Langer (Casca) has decided that Communism will be the end of Western Civilization, so he joins the German Army to fight the Russians on the Eastern Front.  Too late, he discovers the horrors of the Nazis and their “Final Solution”.  Casca also uncovers the role played by “The Brotherhood” in the war.  (See yesterday’s post for a brief intro to the “Brotherhood”.)
Like every book in this series, the descriptions of battles are graphic and powerful.  There is just enough historical accuracy thrown in to make the series “feel” like you are reading real history.  I think this is always the mark of good historical fiction – you almost believe you are reading an actual account.
Just like yesterday’s volume, this book is a fast read, typical of this series and many of the “male adventure-series” from that time period.  If you are “into” this genre (and I am), you will thoroughly enjoy this book (and I did).  I particularly like the historical fiction aspects of the series.  Highly recommended (book and series).
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On This Day In:
2014 Babies (I)
2013 Patriotic == Tell The Truth
2012 30 Days To Go
2011 Altering The Course

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Today’s book review is for “Casca: The War Lord” (1980©) written by Barry Sadler.   This is book three in the “Casca – The Eternal Mercenary” series.  This is a re-read for me.  My first reading would have been sometime in the early to mid-1980’s.
Casca is Casca Rufio Longinus, the legendary Roman soldier who slayed Christ with a spear.  Just prior to dying, the Messiah tells Casca: “You are satisfied with what you are and so you shall remain until we meet again.”  Thus began the (series and) adventures of Casca across two-thousand years (and counting).
In this volume, Casca decides to make his first visit to China.  As is the case with most of series, Casca has various adventures along the way, the most memorable being the temporary loss of his left hand in the discovery of the “Brotherhood of the Lamb”.  Of course, because he can never die and must remain as he is (was), his hand painfully reattaches.  The “Brotherhood” is a league of “crazy” religious fanatics who seek to follow and keep track of Casca, so they can honor Jesus and hasten the 2nd coming.  Of course, they hate Casca and seek to cause him as much physical pain as they can while waiting for Jesus.
Anyway, after multiple adventures, Casca ends up meeting and serving the Emperor, for which he is granted the title.
The book is a fast read as is typical of this series and many of the “male adventure-series” from that time period.  If you are “into” this genre (and I am), you will thoroughly enjoy this book (and I did).  I particularly like the historical fiction aspect of the series.  Highly recommended.
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On This Day In:
2014 Orange October (II) – Giants Win NLDS Game 2 In 18 Innings (2 to 1)!!
Acknowledging Doubt
2013 Fulfilled Acceptance
2012 Error Is Tolerated Here (So Far)
2011 In Defense Of Pain

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Today I completed the second book in the “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary” series “Casca #2: God Of Death” (1979©) written by Barry Sadler.  In this volume, Casca leads some Norse men in battle and then takes them out in long ships to adventure in new lands.  Ultimately, they land in Central America (probably Mexico) and run into the Teotecs and the Olmecs.  Casca is sacrificed to the Teotecs gods and has his heart cut out.  Now before anyone gets too worried about the rest of the series, please recall Casca cannot be killed because he was cursed (by Jesus) in book #1 to live forever.  (Well, at least until the second coming.)  Surviving death, Casca “becomes” the Teotecs “god”.
The story supposedly happens in the 3rd century AD.  The author conveniently overlooks the academic / scholarly belief the Olmecs disappeared (or were destroyed) as a civilization around 500 BC.  It also pre-dates the (probable) first voyages of the Vikings to the “New World” by about 700 years.  Be that as it may, the story is another well written, fast paced action story which is as entertaining as any re-watching of “Gladiator“, “The Long Ships” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” all rolled into one.
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  Like all the books in this series, this is another fine example of historically based action / adventure / warfare genre which many (including myself) enjoy.  Again, the descriptions of warfare and violence in this book (and series) are quite graphic and this book is not suitable for pre-teens.
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On This Day In:
2014 Bull’s-Eye Next
2013 Change ÷ Time
2012 High Anxiety
2011 To Be, Do
2010 In the Arena…
Not An Island, Today…

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Over the last couple of days I watched a couple of movies and read a book.  In order, the two movies were: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier“, “Transformers: Age Of Extinction“, and the book was: “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary #1” (1979©).
It’s been a year since my first review of CA:TWS (see original review here).  Well, I picked up the DVD and thought I’d take another look.  My initial review is still pretty much spot on…  This is a look at the darker side of technology as used by today’s governments to try to “maintain” security and “protect” the people.  It is also a general statement about the need to minimize secret organizations – even when they purport to be providing security and protection, as it is far too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands.  Final recommendation: still highly recommended!
The second movie T4:AoE also came out in 2014 and stars Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager (a more-or-less unemployed robotics expert and single parent living in Texas and, of course, trying to mind his own business), Nicola Peltz as Tessa Yeager (Cade’s daughter, who when threatened, becomes daddy’s reason to get even with the bad-guys), Stanley Tucci as Joshua Joyce (a billionaire corporatist who thinks a lot of himself and yells a lot at his minions), Kelsey Grammer as Harold Attinger (the CIA bad-guy and front for the evil transformers), Jack Reynor as Shane Dyson (the daughter’s boyfriend and a race car driver).
This is a movie with lots of sound effect (explosions) and special effects (mostly computer generated transformers but also explosions), who’s main purpose seems to be to move away from the main human characters of the three previous movies and create a new thread for the franchise to follow.  Fair enough, but is the movie any good?  Within the strict paradigm of an action movie (large robots fighting, car chases, and multiple explosions) – yes, it does.  Quite well, in fact.  If you are looking for simple-minded entertainment (please don’t even try to think about the plot), this is a high quality production which delivers action and explosions.  My one “real” fault with the movie is it is loonnggg – 2 hours and 45 minutes – and actually seems longer.  I don’t usually say that about “action” movies, but this felt too long.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong recommendation.  If you’re into the Transformer movies (and I am), you’ll enjoy this addition.  If you believe this is just another movie to market toys to youth, well, yeah, it’s that too.
The book – Casca: TEM#1, is the first in an ongoing series of books about a fictional / mythical character – based on the Roman Legionnaire who put the lance in Jesus Christ’s side.  There are 42 books in the series so far.  In this first book, Jesus looks down at Casca and says: “You are content with what you are.  Then that you shall remain until we meet again.”  Henceforth, Casca is cursed to live forever – or at least until the second coming.  Each book in the series is about a segment of his 2,000 years (so far).  The series was initially written by Barry Sadler of “Ballad of the Green Berets” fame.  I have the first 22 volumes in the series.  These are the ones written by Sadler (or at least ghost written for him with his name on the book).  I have not read any of the subsequent volumes.  This volume covers most of his first two centuries of life – Roman rule times.
The books are adult, historical fantasy / fiction.  The main character is Casca Rufio Longinus and is loosely based on the Christian legend Saint Longinus.  Being Catholic and knowing a little (very little) about the Spear of Destiny, I picked the book up and thought I’d have a laugh.  I was very pleasantly surprised that it completely captivated me.  In fact, I’ve read the book several times, about once a decade, since I purchased it back in the early 1980’s.  I’ve also re-read a few of the other volumes, but they never seemed to capture me the same way this initial book did.
Final recommendation:  Highly recommended book (and series).  If you enjoy historically based fiction about combat / war, this is a very good book / series.  Caution: it can be graphic in the depiction of violence so this is not appropriate for youth – probably up to late teens.
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On This Day In:
2014 True, Vibrant And Open
2013 Remembering, Yet Again
2012 Something Of Value
2011 Sleep All Day

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