But By The Chance of War
by Richard C. Lyons

"Å“Through fear of you Lord, the sun shines, winds blow
From you Lord, life comes and fates are bestowed."

But By The Chance of War examines mankind's impulse to make war in the context of four plays that are composed entirely of verse. Readers who enjoyed The Illiad and The Odyssey will find this an interesting experience. Each of the four verse plays takes place on a different battleground in a different historic period. The first of the four plays, Mathura, begins with the joining of two great armies of India, in the year 515 C.E, to fight the Ephalite Huns. The second play, Niagra, involves the French, the English, and the Seneca in the year 1759 at Fort Niagra between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Seneca remain loyal to the French but that loyalty is not reciprocated. Amiens, the third play, is set in France in 1918 and features soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, India, and South Africa battling the Germans in the last major offensive of World War I. Moriah, the last and shortest is set in Jerusaleum in modern times. The United States comes to the aid of Israel when an accidental nuclear blast goes off. The plays can be read at different times in any order.

At nearly 500 pages of verse covering four different historic periods, this book is not one the average reader could expect to simply read cover to cover in a few days. The stories are developed slowly, and the person who reads solely for entertainment will be disappointed, but the reader who happens to appreciate this particular classical style will find it rewarding and perhaps discover the insights the back cover promises. The more sensible approach to this opus is to be patient, exploring each within the context of a series of book club discussions or even an entire course offered to students of poetics, classical literature, history, or philosophy. An epic work of this magnitude deserves that kind of time, attention, and scholarship.

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