Sunday, April 17, 2005

The ancient world targeted by new authors

I am in Salt Lake City attending the first North American conference of the Historical Novel Society and am enjoying meeting new authors that are as fascinated by the Romans as we are. I've had the opportunity to talk with Jack Whyte who writes the Camulod Chronicles series (King Arthur in late Roman Britain)and yesterday met a new author who is writing a series of novels based on the lives of Roman gladiators, James Duffy. His first offering in his "Gladiators of the Empire" series is "Sands of the Arena" which I am anxious to read it when it is released in September. (Maybe by then I will have finally struggled to the end of "Eagle In the Snow!") I see that Mr. Duffy has an endorsement by John Maddox Roberts (author of the SPQR series) so it should be good.

At the banquet I also managed to snag a galley proof of a new novel, "Getorix: The Eagle and the Bull", by Judith Geary. I was also interested to note that the author has produced accompanying curriculum materials for use by educators. This is rare for a historical novel. I'm going to see if I can snag one of those today.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Scourge of God

By William Dietrich

Whatever your level of interest in ancient history, ?The Scourge of God? is a first-rate page turner. Dietrich fashions key characters to stand alongside actual historical figures, and the mix is seamless.
A young Roman translator, Jonas, joins an embassy en route to a meeting with Attila. The mission is ostensibly part of ongoing negotiations, but Roman minister Chrysaphius has another plan.
In time, Jonas will compete with a hot-blooded Hun warrior named Skilla for the affections of a Roman maiden captured in the brutal sack of Axiopolis, and a satisfying love triangle takes shape for the reader.
But delicious as they are, the personal intrigues are but a prelude to a larger reckoning, one Dietrich referenced in his previous novel, the 2004 ?Hadrian?s Wall.?
?The storm clouds of war that were forming in ?Hadrian?s Wall? finally break in ?The Scourge of God,? ? the author says. ?By this time, late in the empire, the world was beginning to change.?
Dietrich, who calls himself ?an enthusiastic amateur? when it comes to history, says the fate of the Romans had begun to turn when their armies were routed by barbarians at Hadrianopolis in 378 A.D.
Subsequently, word of the Huns, an even more bloodthirsty enemy, began to reach the empire. Stories of stout, swarthy men who tenderized meat under their saddles and didn?t bathe for fear of water spirits entered the European imagination.

Emperor: The Field of Swords

By ERIK FLOREN -- Edmonton Sun

CANOE : "With hardly a false note in description or dialogue (though once or twice Roman legionnaires seemed to speak with a trace of British idiom), the narrative tugs you along firmly.

But it is the author's sheer mastery of scenes of combat - from duelling gladiators to vast, cataclysmic battles - that really propels this tale. Iggulden writes with a keen knowledge of soldiering down through the ranks.

Vivid depictions of ancient warfare, of tactics and strategy, thrust you into the fight. You can hear the heavy stomp stomp stomp of the legionnaires advancing across the field of battle, the clang of swords and the shrieks of the wounded.

And then, after the battle, your hands sweat on the page."