Thursday 20 April 2023

The Third Crown and Other Weird Tales - Paul Leone

The Third Crown and Other Weird Tales
ISBN 9798376667927

This was my introduction to the works of Paul Leone, he was recommended by a friend and author. This was an intriguing collection. It is clearly broken into three sections, and the author states in the introduction:

“The stories in this collection can roughly be grouped into three sections. “The Apparition of Almirante” and “Operation White Phantom” are what I call ‘military monster squad’ stories putting soldiers (or paramilitary operatives) up against supernatural threats. The next three stories are alternate history set in a world where the Nazis conquered the Soviet Union to the Ural Mountains and are locked in a Cold War with the rest of the world in the 21st century. The final three stories take place in my Immortal Champions setting (seen also in The Hungry Dead of Yü-ching and The Governess of Greenmere).”

As such it does lack coherence. It could have been published as three smaller collections, but as it is it is a good collection of stories. Especially if you are a fan of the novella or short stories I am certain there will be something in this collection that really resonates with you.

The stories in this collection are:

Introductory Notes
The Apparition of Almirante
Operation White Phantom
Drang Nach Osten
Murder in Hitlerstadt
Criminal Code for the Greater Germanic Reich
Directorate V Homicide Inspectorate
This World – The Real World
So Long As We Still Live
Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
The Holy Woman of the West
The French Traveler
Lost in Barsetshire
The Third Crown

A few of these really captured my attention and have stuck with me. The Hitlerstadt section of alternative history brought to mind T.M. Doran’s Iota and also Then Raise the Dead Man High by M.L. Clark. And the novella The Apparition of Almirante was echoes of the Sanguines books by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. And overall having read over 30 volumes by Declan Finn in the last year I see some similarities between the styles and breadth of work. I will give a waring that there is a lesbian one night stand, drug use, and some other aspects I have never seen in Finn’s works.

The description of the book is:

“This collection of short stories by speculative fiction author Paul Leone (The Hungry Dead of Yü-ching and Other Stories and Kung Fu Antipopes and Other Strange Stories) contains nine tales of paranormal action, alternate history, period fantasy and horror.

Travel from the nightmarish streets of Berlin in a world where the Third Reich survived into the 21st century to ancient China, the empty mountains of Afghanistan at the height of the war against the Taliban and finally a quiet twilight in rural England.”

Overall I give this collection a solid 4/5 Stars. And If I can gain clarity on some of Leone’s other series I will likely give at least a few other of his works a try. On Good Reads he indicated in 2014 that the third volume in the Vatican Vampire Hunters Series was almost ready, but I have not been able to confirm if it is one of the titles available from him. If I had to pick a favourite story or two in the collection they would be Operation White Phantom and The Apparition of Almirante and if I was pressed for a third it would be title story The Third Crown

If you love great short stories and novella’s I can recommend this as a starting place to explore the worlds created by Paul Leone.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Paul Leone:
Emma Shepard, Space Sentinel!
In and Out of the Reich
Little Greys
Murder in Jerusalem
The Governess of Greenmere
The Mystery of the Dæmoniac
The Red Thirst
Kung Fu Antipopes and Other Strange Stories
The Hungry Dead of Yü-ching and Other Stories

Vatican Vampire Hunters Series:
Mysterious Albion
The Book of Thoth

Girl Out of Time Series:

Mysteries of Zillah Harvey Series:
The Mysteries of Zillah Harvey
The Mystery of the Carpathian Client
The Mystery of the Dying Woman

Contributed to:
Travellers in an Antique Land

1 comment:

Paul Leone said...

Thanks for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed the collection and hope you check out my other recent books.