Aldair: The Legion of Beasts

by Neal Barrett, Jr.
Series: Aldair 4
Reviewed date: 2020 Nov 16
Rating: 1
174 pages
cover art
cover art

Beowulf with spaceships and time travel.

This is book four in a series, and my unfamiliarity with the backstory significantly impacted my enjoyment. I am also not a fan of time travel stories, so that was a big strike against it.

The setting
Eons ago, man reshaped the beasts of Earth into intelligent creatures and set them up in different kingdoms modeled on ancient Earth civilizations. They did this as a form of amusement. Later, man went extinct and the beasts forgot their origin. Now, in the fourth book, the beasts (of whom Aldair, a pig-derived creature, is the primary protagonist) have found abandoned spaceships (shaped like golden globes) and traveled to other planets.

ojt'Miyer, king of the monsters
Man is not extinct. Small pockets of men have survived on these other planets for thousands of years. Worse, though, is that man is no longer in charge: the men are preyed upon by mutant monsters--neither men nor beast--who kidnap and enslave them. The chief monster is named ojt'Miyer, and he and his monsters use aging spaceships to travel from world to world, kidnapping both men and beasts.

Aldair's crew
Aldair has plenty of friends, who must have been important in previous books, but whose names and qualities never made an impression on me. (Rhalgorn is his closest comrade. I looked it up.) They are all, Aldair included, barbarian fighting men--or rather, barbarian fighting beasts. It reminds me of Beowulf, or of what I imagine Conan the Barbarian to be like, although I've not read any Conan stories. They like hand-to-hand combat, axes, and crunching the bones of their enemies, although they will use energy weapons and spaceships with super-duper-laser-y beam weapons if they can get them. (And they do get them, later.)

The plot in brief
Aldair and his beast comrades find some allies among the men. (Led by a man named Caldus.) They find some old spaceships (golden globes) left by men many ages ago, and use these to wage war against ojt'Miyer and the monsters. There are some time travel episodes, because the spaceships are capable of traveling through time as well as space, but in the end they defeat ojt'Miyer's forces. Aldair confronts ojt-Miyer alone to kill him in single combat, and he sees the awful reality of what ojt'Miyer truly is. What is he? Well, it's hard to say. He was some kind of disembodied soul-eater. Aldair doesn't defeat him, but distracts him a moment and then ojt'Miyer's own kind devour his soul. It's creepy and doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

The end.

Nope, not for me. Too little science fiction despite the planets-and-spaceships setting, too much missing backstory (that one's my own fault for starting on book four of the series), too much weird creepy stuff at the end, and time travel.

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