World Of Britannia is a non-fiction companion book to the Roman Britain historical fiction series called Britannia. I would recommend having this along side as you read the Books in the Britannia series, in order, as this will provide details like maps, place names and character information to secure the plot lines firmly in the readers mind.
This book takes you through timelines, locations, Roman buildings, Gods and more about how the Roman Britain interacted with the local people and shaped the future.
I was particularly interested in the parts which were local to where I live. I’ve been to the Roman remains at Silchester several times and once during Reading University’s summer archaeological dig, and I accompanied a school on a trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace which I think I found more interesting than the children.
Noelle has been reading The Warlords by Richard Denham
Book Review: Britannia Part III – The Warlords
This review is for Rosie’s #Bookreview team. The book was purchased by the reviewer.
This is the third in the historical series Britannia, which explores the time of Roman rule in what is now Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Authored by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow, The Warlords is a fitting conclusion to a compelling trilogy. I have read the previous two books, and while I recommend them all, I strongly suggest they be read in sequence. The series is built around four so-called Heroes of the Wall, who are young men in the first volume (see my reviews of both the first and second books on this blog site). Only two now survive and they are well past their prime, their weakening with age mirroring that of Roman Britannia. The time frame of the series is compressed somewhat in order to follow them into the waning era of Roman rule in its far-flung province.
Elsewhere in Europe, Rome is also in its death throes, following the bloody end of Magnus Maximus, the Roman Emperor who began his reign in Britannia.
One of two remaining Heroes, Justinus Coelius, is now the General of the Roman forces in Britannia, and he and the depleted and increasingly fractious Roman army face a myriad of threats from the wild tribes of the north and others from across the German Sea. The other Hero is Vitalis Celatius, who has become a Christian convert and a weaver of baskets with reeds from the Thames. His goal is to live a quiet life away from conflict, but his religion and reputation draw him back into political events.
In addition to Justinus and Vitalis, this book is richly populated by an array of conniving and greedy characters, some real and some fictional, better drawn and even more interesting than those in the previous two volumes. Stilicho, a historical figure, is a ruthless and loyal toady of the Emperor Theodosius and is tasked with taking the head of Magnus Maximus to Londinium (London) to teach the barbarians a lesson in Roman strength and superiority. Stilicho runs into two immoveable objects on his arrival: the unscrupulous but competent Vicarius, who oversees Rome’s business in the city, and Scipio of the Black Knives, a gang of thieves and murderers. His mother Honoria is Vicarius’ mistress.
Another historical character is Pelagius, a roving Christian evangelist, whose religion is tolerant of traditional gods and emphasizes free will. He has an enemy in the Bishop Londinium and a reluctant follower in Vitalis.
When Stilicho is recalled upon Theodosius’ death, a sequence of men declare themselves Caesar and rally various of the Army’s legions to rule the province and beyond, only to be overthrown one by one. In the meantime, Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Tara, is raising and plundering the western and southwestern coasts of the province. To the north, the Voltadini, a barbarian tribe and allies of the Romans who have for centuries repelled attacks from the Picts, the Scots, the Irish and the Saxons, face a deathly threat. The son of their Queen, who is the lover of Justinus, seeks to overthrow both her and the Romans by secret pacts with these same tribes.
Who can contain Niall? Can the Queen rally the Voltadini to maintain the northern regions from invasion? Who will ultimately control the legions? The book’s characters are wound within these gradually unravelling story threads and despite my knowledge of what really happened historically, the complex story kept me reading with enthusiasm. The authors have clearly taken some liberties with the history of Britannia in spinning this saga, but then again, there is much of that history that is unknown.
I recommend this third book and indeed, the whole series, and hope to visit some of the sites mentioned in the book when I next travel to England.
The Warlords is book #3 in the Britannia series of historical fiction set in Roman Britain. I do suggest reading these books in order to understand the full storyline and to get a grip on all the characters.
In this book Magnus Maximus the usurper who declared himself Caesar, then Augustus and who then marched against the Roman Emperor Theodosius, is dead. Killed in battle. The Isle of Britannia is a thorn in the Roman side, troublesome and supporting threats to the throne. Theodosius intends to make a lasting impression on the people of Britannia and stamp out the uprisings.
He sends the severed head of Maximus to Britannia with the intention of having it paraded around the province. However inhabitants of the thorn in his side, send him back the head of his own man in retaliation. So instead Theodosius sends a non nonsense soldier Stilicho to teach these barbarians a lesson or two in obedience.
In Londinium few can be trusted, the underworld of the city is run by Scipio of the Black Knives, whose mother sleeps with the Vicarius who oversees Rome’s business. Everyone is out for themselves and through it all shines greed.
With Rome’s hold beginning to crumble the wolves are braying at the coastlines, the Saxons, Hiberni, Scotti, and more all want a piece of the land. Justinus Coelius, Dux Britannorum patrols the edges of Rome. He must deal with idiots like the Count of the Saxon Shore and hardened warriors like Niall Mugmedon, High King of Tara.
When the Emperor dies, Stilicho is recalled and Britannia is left open to the marauding hoards, can a Hero of the Wall still be a Hero against such odds? And who will be left to tell the children the tales of Britannia?
This is a grand finale to the series, there are a lot of characters and many have several names and titles which increase the cast vastly and can make for a confusing read at times. I read a paperback version and there is a glossary of Roman terms at the back and a brief map of Britannia which I would have loved to have more details on. The last quarter of the book was superb with a tense set of events to draw the series to an end.
Noelle chose to read and review The Watchmen by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow
The Watchmen is the second book in the Britannia series by Richard Denham and M.J. Trow. I read and reviewed the first book in the series, The Wall. I liked that book; this one was more entertaining.
The Wall began in AD 367 in Roman Britannia, modern day England. The Watchmen is set years later and the four so-called ‘Heroes of the Wall’ are living very different lives from their earlier roles in the Roman Army. Leocadius, once a bragging and womanizing pedes or foot soldier, is now a leader in civilian life, the council of Londinium (London), with a cold wife and a warm mistress, Honoria. The beautiful Honoria runs an upper class brothel and has a child, Scipio, with Leocadius. Vitalis, also once a foot soldier, has become a Christian and now lives in a rough house by the Thames, where he weaves baskets for sale from the river grasses. Justinus, once a 30 year old non-commissioned officer of the cavalry, is now Commander of Hadrian’s Wall, tasked with protecting Britannia from invaders from the wild lands north of the Wall. Paternus, a semisallis (a rank above pedes) had lost his family in the earlier book and had made a political marriage with Brenna, female leader of the Voltadini, to tie her people to Rome. They’d fallen in love and had a child together, but Paternus had died five years before the story begins. Justinus is in love with Brenna and committed to overseeing the development and education of her two boys, one from an earlier marriage and the one fathered by Paternus. Around these characters the book swirls, moving swiftly from one to the other, leaving the reader with multiple cliffhangers.
The figure tying the separate story lines together is Magnus Maximus, commander of the Roman Army in Britannia. He declares himself Caesar, a challenger to the throne of Gratian, Emperor of the western Roman Empire. Gratian shares the throne with his brother Valentinian II, Emperor of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. At the beginning of the book, Maximus is demanding and winning allegiance from the various native tribes in Britannia, as their Caesar.
Leocadius is mired in the politics of Londinium and saddled with a grasping wife. He plays dice for his life. Vitalis wants a peaceful life but has to rejoin the military to help his sister Conchessa find her husband, who defrauded Valentinian and is missing. Justinus is facing a massive incursion of invaders determined to kill everything and everyone in their way and has to work with Maximus and the tribes allied with him to stop them. Each of their stories winds through the book like ribbons on a maypole, detailed with Celtic legend, Egyptian mysticism and tribal battle-fury. How many of the remaining three Heroes of the Wall will survive?
I only have two negative comments: first, the story of Maximus’ campaign against Gratian is given short shrift – in itself, it could have been another volume; second, there were places where the characters use very contemporary expressions, which was a little jarring. I appreciated the glossary at the end of the book for Roman terms with which I wasn’t familiar, and the map showing sites from the narrative.
Richard Denham is a self-taught Roman historian with an exhaustive knowledge of this period; M.J.Trow is a military historian. They have combined their talents to bring the Britannia of the fourth century and its citizens to life.
I fully admit I am not an historian and perhaps some who are might quibble. But as a general reader, I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Roman history. Where I felt the first book in the series would appeal mainly to men, this book has a broader appeal. I’m hoping to see a third book soon.
Britannia Part II: The Watchmen is the second book in this historical fiction series set around Roman Britain in the late 4th Century. Magnus Maximus is the Military officer commanding Britain – the Dux Britannorum. Power seeking he is gaining support from the legions and calling himself Caesar of Britannia. He’s causing political uproar too by marching on London and demanding the support of the Vicarius, the Governor of the province.
The four heroes of The Wall (Hadrian’s Wall) from the last book have moved on, one has died, Justinus is now Commander of The Wall, keeping the rebels such as the Picti from advancing. Vitalis turned away from his army roots and is a basket seller in London and Leocadius has slept his way into the political role of Consul in London.
This book follows these main characters in the next chapter of their lives. Maximus wants to gain the support of all of Britannia and then head off to over throw the Emperor Gratian. Vitalis’s sister comes from Gaul to ask him help her find her husband who has disappeared. Leocadius finds that politics is not his thing and Justinas faces rebels with a strong Saxon backing.
There’s plenty of action as well as insight into the likely political twists which would have gone on all over the Roman empire in real life. Power hungry men, fighting men and those just trying to survive as best they can. I enjoyed reading how a Roman army wielded itself in battle as well as learning about the local tribes of Britain and their traditions and beliefs. There is a useful glossary of place names and Roman terms, plus a map of Britannia showing many of the main areas from the book. As I read the paperback version this was really useful to be able to flip to these pages.
This review is based on a free paperback copy of the book given to me by the author.
Welcome to my second Year of Good Deeds, a challenge I set myself during April 2013. I decided to do at least one Good Deed a day for a whole year, now I am into my second year.
This week I’ve been doing the following;
March 15th – It’s Mothering Sunday here in the UK, as a mother myself I’m sandwiched in the middle of giving and receiving gifts. Wrote my review of Crashing into Love by Melissa Foster ready for my place on the book tour next week.
March 16th – My morning in school volunteering, and a lunchtime walk to deliver some thank you notes.
March 17th – Delivered a whole car load of items to the charity shop on behalf on the in-laws.
March 20th – Have been reading Aquarius Addiction by Trish Jackson. Everything went rather dark this morning for the eclipse 2015, but as it was cloudy no one could see too much, I went for my walk early just to be out in the eerie atmosphere and picked up litter, even the birds went a bit quiet.
March 21st – Getting ready for the A to Z Challenge theme reveal on Monday, an early walk in the park, it’s our town half marathon tomorrow and the park is being fenced off in readiness for all the runners. A swift walk and litter pick on the way home. I’m been reading A Twist Of Fortune by Mike Martin ready for an April launch and I’ve just started reading The Sand Dollar by Maggie Christensen
Welcome to my second Year of Good Deeds, a challenge I set myself during April 2013. I decided to do at least one Good Deed a day for a whole year, now I an into my second year.
This week I’ve been doing the following;
October 19th – Dropped some money in the Help The Heroes collection.
October 20th – My morning at school, next week is half term so I shall have to look harder for a Good Deed. Informed an author that I was now in possession of a book review for her book from one of my team and donned the battle armour as she didn’t agree with me going to post a review which will say that the book had some editing errors, apparently I shall be rubbishing 10 years of work! Found a lovely comment which I shall now use “It’s not the audience’s fault that they don’t like it”.
October 21st – Heard from an author today who received my 3* review, gracefully accepting that the book wasn’t for me. That’s the type of author we all like, one who appreciates that we’ve taken our free time to read their book. Good deeds received; Nipped into the supermarket for a few things and the man in front of me firstly gave me all his shop reward card points, then a voucher for £5 of next weeks shop and finally £5 off any shop after he’d finished and paid for his own shopping. How nice was that? So I thanked him profusely and dropped some of my own money in a charity pot on my way out.
October 22nd – My car is being serviced today, dropped it off and walked home picking up litter on the way.
October 23rd – The path I have chosen to take with book reviewing is definitely hard, I have been mulling the process over. I could take the easier path and give 5* reviews to everything I read, but I would be false to myself. I could post only those books which make my 5* list, but then what of all the time I spent reading the other books? I could just post my reviews with no feed back to the author, but again that seems a coward’s way out for me, so perhaps this is the right route, the one where I read a book, write the review, send it in advance to the author, offer to discuss it if my review is less than they are expecting, then post the review for my reading audience, the ones whose curiosity may be roused by any review, not just the 5* ones.
October 25th – The November paper issue of Fleet Life dropped through my door this morning with my month’s book review page. Reading the magazine I note that local author Richard Denham who wrote Britannia Part 1: The Wall which I reviewed recently http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5PL will be signing books in Fleet Library on Tuesday November 11th between 11am and 12pm. Will write a tweet on the day for him. The on-line version will go out nearer the 1st of November so I shall save my post for then.
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.