“The Iron Duke” by L. Ron Hubbard

“The Iron Duke”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast Performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx. 2 hours

Once again it’s time to head out on a far flung adventure thanks to the old pulp fiction stories of L. Ron Hubbard.  Galaxy Audio and Galaxy Press have been re-releasing all the stories from the Golden Age of Stories when the pulps were a great source of fiction.  Many great authors wrote stories that were published in the mid-20th century in magazines that featured short stories pertaining to different genres of fiction.  L. Ron Hubbard wrote in many of the genres provided by the pulps, such as Westerns, Air & Sea Adventures, Science-fiction and Fantasy.  This time around it’s a far flung adventure to the fictional Balkan kingdom of Aldoria.

Originally published  July, 1940, this story is set around the time of World War II, is about a renegade who is wanted by nearly every government in Europe.  Blackie Lee is not only a wanted man but he’s a doppleganger for the leader of Aldoria.  Blackie learns of this “kinship” and devises a plan to escape the officials who want him jailed and attempts to take over the country pretending to be the Duke of Aldoria.  In the process, he is captured by some rebels who promise not to kill him and give him 12 million francs if he allows for free elections in Aldoria.  Blackie now sees a double out.  He can pose as the Duke, promise free elections, lose and become ousted and live happily on the money in France.

In the process of trying to convince the officials the real Duke is the fake, Blackie is found out only because of a scar the Duke has and Blackie does not.  He is then jailed.  Thinking the twin feature of Blackie a bonus the officials of Aldoria decide to use him as a body double so the real Duke cannot be assassinated.  The Duke of Aldoria is a drunken womanizer who has no love for his citizenry, the people know this and a revolt is just waiting to happen.

While Blackie is in jail someone mysteriously sends him books, fine wine and food and doctors to ensure his good health.  He later finds out it is a Countess of Aldoria and works her into another scheme to help him escape.  Blackie’s first showing is for the dedication of a bridge.  The parade to the bridge is rife with revolution, someone throws a cheap wine bottle at the carriage, making fun of the drunken Duke, in which Blackie orders the guards not to kill the man, but instead shares the wine with the man.  An assassination attempt is made in which a grenade is thrown at Blackie, heroically he catches the grenade and throws it back.  At the dedication hecklers in the audience, placed by the rebels who made the bargain for the elections, begin asking about elections.  Blackie then announces that free elections will be held in a month.

Blackie must now campaign for the Duke, at this point he makes a wager with the Countess that if he wins she must marry him.  Can he persuade a country that is already teetering on revolt to elect him as their leader?  Hubbard has written an adventure which provides a fun look at mistaken identity, entertains with a tale of intrigue and throws in some humor and romance that will leave you guessing what will happen next until the very end.

As with all the Galaxy Audio productions this audiobook delivers the story that will remind you of the golden age of radio when dramas were told with excellent voice actors, great sound effects and a musical score that will transport you back in time on an adventure not to be forgotten.