The Lady for Ransom

byAlfred Duggan. Coward-McCann, $3.50.
In the year 1096, an old soldier turned friar dictates his memories of war against the Turks for the instruction of young knights on their way to the Crusade. ‘This Roger fitzOdo is an authority on the Byzantine Empire, for he is half Creek himself and as a boy took service with one Roussel de Balliol, a landless captain of mercenaries from Normandy, with whom he campaigned all across Asia Minor. Rogers story, peppered with cynical wisdom, details his master s long, devious, tricky campaign to convert himself from a wandering free lance into a solidly landed gentleman.
The book is as packed with intrigues and unexpected disasters as most historical novels, but it differs from the general run in having wit, plausible characters, and a real feeling for the period. Mr. Duggan’s refusal to let his people think like moderns gives the story vitality and interest, and permits a great deal of sly, funny irony in the contrast between forthright Norman thieves and elegant, wily Greeks. The Lady for Ransom has few of the standard defects of historical novels, and a set of virtues all its own.