Books: Fighting Fiction

Rafael Sabatini's 34th adventure story, The Sword of Islam (Houghton Mifflin, $2.50), compares favorably with his best work (Scaramouche, Captain Blood). As dramatic as Italian opera without music, it is as ornately composed as Italian pastry. Laid in the 16th Century, it concerns one Prospero Adorno, wide-browed, slim-hipped soldier-poet, who first appears as commander of a naval squadron blockading Genoa. He changes sides several times, several times buys and talks his way out of captivity, is dishonored, vindicated, at last makes mincemeat of the Moslems, wins beautiful Gianna. Who fights whom is immaterial—the...

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