The Black Sultan by L. Ron Hubbard
Published: March 21st 2013 by Galaxy Audio
Format/Source: Audio CD from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Enjoy this Triumphant Tale. American Eddie Moran is about to be captured in Morocco by the French Foreign Legion when bullets start flying at two gentlemen walking right towards him. Saving the men, Eddie learns that one is the US vice-consul, but the other is the recently deposed Berber leader, El Zidan. When a friendship forms between them, Eddie escapes the French with Zidan’s help, only to be captured later and taken to the Atlas mountain stronghold of the Black Sultan, the cruel usurper of El Zidan’s throne.
Not only must Eddie find a way out, he’s bent on saving a beautiful American woman kidnapped to join a harem as one of the Sultan’s many brides. ALSO INCLUDES THE ADVENTURE STORY “ESCAPE FOR THREE”
I have received perhaps a startling and at the same time very generous amount of L. Ron Hubbard stories to read and review. The Black Sultan is the sixth one I have consumed and the second one dealing with that ultimate of strange armies, the French Foreign Legion.
I appreciate that Galaxy Audio makes an effort to ensure that the two discs in the audio production are completely filled, sometimes adding a second or third story to round it out.
With The Black Sultan, the main story is told in first person from the perspective of a rogue American in Morocco. He ends up in quite the predicament as a player between two different sultans and the Legion who has a price on his head. Compared to “Hell’s Legionnaire” the focus was definitely less on the Legion and more on the strange push and pull of French-occupied Northern Africa.
I have discovered that I prefer the Hubbard’s stories that are told in first person. They are sometimes easier to follow in audio version than when it is in third person. That said, despite the production value in terms of sound effects that should aide in following along (particularly as I listen in the car fighting Washington, D.C. traffic) I found that during the climax of the story, at the height of the action, I became confused as to what was actually going on. When I tried thinking about what had happened, it still made little sense to me. This could be attributed to perhaps less than completely undivided attention (again, listened as I drove) or because at the heart of it, it is a pulp fiction story. It is meant to thrill, to be quick and fast and then over. Most of these stories were originally published within magazines and not as standalone novels.
I enjoyed the Black Sultan. The second story in the group, “Escape for Three” was humorous and almost poetic in the way it was written with certain patterns and repetition. Perhaps it could be studied as a form of prose poetry. It was like a quick fruit chew that refreshed but was quickly swallowed.
They are marketing these stories, particularly the audio books, as great commuter fare. I would definitely agree…it makes me smile when I am sitting in traffic with the windows down to think other people can hear the yells of Berbers and the cracking of Legion rifles and what they might possibly think of me.
My rating: 3/5