The Last Rail to Khusra or Thoughts on the Arab Spring?
By: Brent Lambert
Dillon and his adventures have always struck me as having subtle political undertones to them. Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell had some things to say about colonialism and imperialism. And I think this story points out a few of the problems with revolutions in history. Harak, for my money, struck me as a parallel to Libya circa a couple of years ago. You have what on the surface seems to be a fight for freedom, but you quickly find out it’s been hijacked by self-important extremists who can’t even figure out their own name. That particular naming fiasco of course has its humorous element, but I also think it highlights just how quick and absurdly the waters change when a country is in societal upheaval. Things quickly spiral out of control and the people that were once seen as the “oppressors” suddenly don’t start to seem so bad anymore.
I think this is exactly what Princess Salena symbolizes. In a way, she kind of comes from the Anastasia tradition. The last child of the royal family escaping away until it is time to come back to the throne and all that. Unfortunately, we know what we really happened to Anastasia, but let’s just focus on the legend. You see the reverence that the people have for her when she’s first revealed. The desperate people are looking for stability in the wake of their revolution and see a spark of hope in the Princess. It also serves as a bit of commentary on how dependent people are on others for their stability and the dangers that come along with that.
And I don’t think that the story is necessarily advocating for the status quo either. The power of Salena’s ancestors shows how violent and bloody protecting the status quo can be. She’s the last of their line and do some unspeakable stuff to protect her. I think that’s a pretty powerful statement about our society and what lengths are gone to maintain it. Salena may just seem like a little girl, but I really feel like she’s the heaviest hitting piece of symbolism in the story.
Dillon, under those circumstances, isn’t just the hero of this story. He’s almost an idea. A living force for right. He doesn’t choose a side based on national interests or personal gain. He chooses it simply because of the fact that it is the right thing to do. An almost unbelievable concept in today’s world. But when you really get down to it, he’s the only person in the story just doing what has to be done because it’s right. The soldiers are heroic of course, but they’re duty and order bound. Dillon could walk away at any moment but chooses not to. As much as Salena is a symbol for the status quo, Dillon is symbolic of a far older tradition going back to the great heroes of mythology.
Of course, I could be reading a whole lot of stuff into this that Derrick never intended to even be there. So as to not embarrass myself if that be the case, let me talk about the story on a surface level. It’s wonderfully written, the pacing is great and the balance between action and humor is struck very well. I think one of the things I really appreciated in this story is the respect that Dillon gives to the soldiers in it. Far too often in stories like this, the men of the military become cannon fodder and are killed left and right to show how bad the antagonist is. Derrick doesn’t take that easy route. He takes the time to acknowledge the deaths and give them weight. As someone who comes from a long line of military veterans and currently has a little brother serving that part of the story meant a lot to me. So hats off to Derrick for that.
I am definitely intrigued by S.P.E.A.R. and I feel like this is going to be some crazy mix of anti-SHIELD and Illuminati type conspiracies. There certainly was a feel of the occult to these world changers at the end of the story. I’m looking forward to when and where Dillon runs head on into these guys. And the thing I enjoyed about this scene was that Derrick made sure it was earned. He didn’t just plop these guys on us out the blue. The work was done in the main body of the story beforehand. Good due diligence on the part of the writer.
My only real complaint was that I wished Winifred got popped with a bike spoke. Man was that woman grating. It shows Derrick’s skill that I wanted to jump through the story and wring the woman’s neck. All I could see was that Dolores Umbridge every time Winifred opened her big mouth. Ugh!
Otherwise; great story, great author. Do yourself a favor and read it if you haven’t.