Barry Sadler’s Casca: The Eternal Mercenary

Monday , 19, June 2017 12 Comments

If you run across one of Barry Sadler’s Casca books you could do worse than picking up a copy.

Casca is a Roman legionnaire that had the misfortune to draw duty on the wrong day and was assigned to the crucifixion detail for Jesus and two thieves. His  losing streak continues with a low dice roll which determined who stayed until the prisoners died.  Impatient to leave, Casca decides to end the ordeal and runs a spear into the Messiah. Before passing, Jesus curses Casca, “Soldier, you are content with what you are. Then that you shall remain until we meet again”. Casca is doomed to soldier until Jesus returns.

What follows is one of the most formulaic series of stories I’ve come across. Each book follow’s Casca’s adventures throughout different historical periods. In D&D terms he has a lot of experience points so he tends to serve in a leadership role, sometimes taking over whole empires (see #2).  Casca always finds a lover but is doomed to curse the fate of an immortal loving a mortal. The woman usually comes from a low station or is rescued from evil slavers, barbarians, etc, and elevated by Casca to a position of prominence thereby drawing the jealously of a sadistic antagonist who provides the storyline betrayal and drama.

 

Although all of the above isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement I do recommend the series for the plain entertainment value, basically a good “beach book”.  While most of the information given concerning Casca’s service in the various armies is well known to those acquainted with military history, the stories remain interesting and informative.  Once in a while the reader will come across some good insights such as when Casca is serving in the retreating Wehrmacht.  As the officer responsible for a defensive position there is a passage in which Casca ventures far in front of his own lines in order to view the field from his opponent’s perspective.

If interested, all you ever wanted to know about the series is here.

I’d prefer not to mention Amazon so much but should mention that they are currently available for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Also interesting is Barry Sadler’s story.  Green Beret, composer of a best selling song, a failed career as an entertainer but a solid career as a writer that seemed to keep him in beer and women down in Guatemala City.  Add some controversy over if he was involved in the Contra effort against the Sandinistas or was just a hard partying author that talked a big game only to end with his tragic death during a robbery attempt (official story) or worse and you wind up with enough material to write a story about a guy who wrote stories. I recommend this article if you want details.

After Barry Sadler’s death Tony Roberts has continued the series. As I’m slowly reacquainting myself with the series I’ve yet to read Tony’s work and cannot comment.

 

 

 

12 Comments
  • Nathan says:

    Interesting. I’ll have to keep an eye out on #47 for my indie reviews.

    • Nathan says:

      Reading through #1 now. Looks like a promising series.

      • Scott says:

        I forgot how politically incorrect #1 was and Sadler really went for base emotions (i.e. the Nubian gladiator taking revenge) and my review wasn’t the most enthusiastic recommendation but it is a good series.
        I enjoy the theme of the eternal warrior. When a story or book bogs down, as many invariably do there’s always the promise that Casca will wind up serving in a historical period that’s more to my taste.

  • Alex says:

    This sounds a lot like the unfilmed Gladiator sequel that Nick Cave allegedly wrote a screenplay for…

  • Scott says:

    Didn’t know about that and after reading this: http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2015/01/29/the-unbelievably-insane-gladiator-sequel-that-almost-was
    I think Nick Cave could have got some ideas from the Casca series but the theology is different. Casca is waiting for the Christ to return and Nick Cave uses the Roman pantheon to explain his protagonist’s return to life.

    Didn’t mention in the review as I don’t know where Sadler was going with it but Casca has a recurring relationship with a Jewish doctor. Doctor first came across Casca’s mangled body in Vietnam right before he was pronounced dead. The doctor is amazed to see Casca come back to life.

  • Joe F Keenan says:

    I wonder if Sadler was inspired by Edwin Lester Arnold’s, Phra the Phonetician? And you’re right, the Casca books are good beach reading!

    • Scott Cole says:

      I don’t know but glad you mentioned Phra the Phonetician as I haven’t heard of Edwin Arnold or his story before. Another one on the reading list!

  • Skyler says:

    I remember one Book where he is locked in a dungeon for a couple of years without food or water. They open the cell and he escapes and beats the antagonist to death with a Turkey drumstick.

    • Scott Cole says:

      His greatest fear is to find himself buried and mothered or under water and drowning (Book 1) but never die.

  • Salamandyr says:

    Been meaning to check these out as part of my delve into the once fertile men’s adventure genre of book, but have been distracted by the Destroyer and Richard Blade.

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