cover image The Black Sultan

The Black Sultan

L. Ron Hubbard. Galaxy, $9.95 trade paper (129p) ISBN 978-1-59212-353-7

This short novella is a good example of Hubbard's effective storytelling, with its characteristic pulp formula%E2%80%94action, strong characters, suspense, snappy dialogue, and titillating romance. American Eddie Moran is hiding out in French Morocco in the 1920s, wanted by authorities for past indiscretions. After saving the life of Berber chieftain El Zidan in a bazaar shoot-out, he agrees to work for him, but runs straight into a trap set by the Black Sultan, a sworn enemy of El Zidan. Captured, Eddie is imprisoned in the Black City, where he meets a fellow captive, an English girl destined to join the Black Sultan's harem. Eddie, the quick-shooting bold adventurer, arranges a miraculous escape, only to find himself in the middle of a battle in the mountains between the French Foreign Legion and El Zidan's forces, with the Black Sultan's army closing in behind. But Eddie isn't bothered by the diminishing odds, coming up with an audacious plan to save everyone's bacon. The book also contains a short story, "Escape for Three," about three French Foreign Legionnaires on a suicide mission in Morocco, a surprising tale of battlefield comradeship. (Mar.)