My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Britannia Part 1: The Wall is a work of fiction set in a historical backdrop of occupied Britain in the Roman era. Hadrian’s wall has been built and it is up to the VI Vitrix to defend the wall against the Barbarians from the North.
The book opens and introduces us to four leading characters, soldiers of the VI, who are out hunting. Leocadius is just 19, Vitalis 18, they are out with Justinus aged around 30 years and Paternus who is a family man of just a little older. They’ve been hunting for two days and are returning home when smoke and scavenger birds alert them to trouble. They find the fort of Banna has been attacked and no one is left, Paternus fears for his family.
Rushing to the next stronghold along the wall the soldiers finds this one has been savagely attacked as well, and it’s not just one, the wall has been lost. They suspect the Picts, Saxons and Attacotti. Heading for the larger Roman town of Eboracum (York) The four soldiers come across an Arcani, a wise man of Britain, a man of the land called Dumno, also a paid Roman informer. They Learn of a mysterious Hero of the Barbarians called Valentinus, who controls these Barbarian armies and wants to rid the land of the Romans.
These four soldiers become heroes of the Wall, rumours spread of brave deeds and the Roman leaders use the men to drum up positive response to the attacks from Valentinus. Attacks that pour fear into an Army which once had a fearsome reputation and now looks like it might be defeated. But who is the man behind the silver mask? The biggest fear is the unknown.
All over Britain talk of Valentinus spreads as Roman Britain itself moves forward. In Londinium Leocadius and Vitalis both find themselves in positions unthought-of because of their Wall hero status. We see a City with different religions that people follow out of belief and fashion. This book drops you right into Roman life in Britain, with the harshness of living in the wilds of the North, to military life and civilian lifestyles. It’s all about survival, unless you are an army man and then it’s all about Rome. A good historical book.
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