written by Chris Schweizer
Peter Crogan joined the French Foreign Legion for the same reason many people did—to escape. But now, in 1912, almost at the end of his five-year term of service, Peter must stop running away and face some tough questions. Why does France have forces in North Africa? What should the role of the Foreign Legion be in settling conflicts between the various tribesmen? Who are the people that the forces are fighting, and is the fight even worth the cost it is exacting? With a hot-headed hero as his new Captain, Peter faces a Tuareg invasion and must decide what is right and what is wrong in a world where nothing is black and white, only gray.
As in the first volume of his Crogan series, Crogan’s Vengeance, Schweizer uses the setup of a unique family history to teach a lesson. Brothers Eric and Cory Crogan are told stories of their ancestors when their father wants to make a point about something. In Crogan’s March, this early introduction comes across almost like a lecture, but it is only three pages long and once readers are immersed within Peter Crogan’s world, they’ll be too engaged to feel preached at. Schweizer doesn’t pull any punches. The life of a French Legionnaire in 1912 was hard, and you feel that completely. These men are dirty, rough, uncouth, and quick to fight, but they can also be noble and selfless. Schweizer is careful to show readers that these good qualities may not always be present in every person and even when they are, they may be buried deep inside someone, requiring a severe situation to bring them to the forefront.
He is also careful not to make any endings too happy. Not everyone survives, as is appropriate for that time period and setting. And we don’t get a clean ending either, which is true of a lot of family histories, where elements of a person’s life remain lost in the past. Schweizer obviously did a lot of research into the politics of North Africa in the early 20th century, so his details ring true. He draws a thought-provoking parallel between the attitudes of the North African peoples and the French from that time period and the attitudes of those in the Middle East and those in America and Europe today. Conflicts go on, people misunderstand each other, whether on purpose or unintentionally, and hatred spreads. It’s an old story and a new one at the same time.
Schweizer’s art is rough-edged, fitting for his rough characters. There isn’t shading; everything is in stark blacks-and-whites. This means that readers have to pay closer attention to characters in order to keep them clear, but as this is a story that asks for full participation, that is not a bad thing. One character, Peter Crogan’s new Captain, is written with a painful French accent. It highlights his pompous nature, but is difficult to read. Even more so than in Crogan’s Vengeance, this volume is for teen and up. There is a lot of fighting and a lot of violence, though nothing is gruesome just for the sake of being gruesome. But war is war and people die. The high level of action means that this has the potential to be a good title for reluctant readers, though it may need some pushing. Readers do not have to have read Crogan’s Vengeance to understand Crogan’s March, but after they’ve read one, they’re sure to want the other.-- Snow Wildsmith