for our times! Well, not exactly. It's been awhile since anyone tackled the Roman Empire as entertainingly as Gillespie has done in this book, a nearly-straight historical novel which should please readers of fantasy, too. Germanic Auriane is a combination of the noble, natural savage, and the heroine marked from birth for great deeds. Roman Marcus Julianus is the personification of the highest civilized, republican Roman values. Both are typical and atypical of their societies, fighting for what each believes to be just. Their individual struggles with the clashing Roman and Teutonic cultures are carried out in the Northern forests and in the salons and arena of Rome. Strongly- drawn characters, a setting both familiar and exotic (we all know something of imperial Rome, but very few of us are well-informed about it), a whiff of New-Age ancient mysticism, and a subdued but important romance subplot drive the sweeping novel of Auriane's growth and maturity and Rome's decadence.
From Publishers Weekly
Probably the greatest compliment to Gillespie's first novel is that at 800 pages, the book isn't too long. Spanning the years between A.D. 52-shortly before Nero's accession-and Nerva's accession in 96, the novel invokes tribal warfare, two tyrants, Domitian's terror, gladiatorial spectacles, blood vengeance, imperial intrigues and a mythic love. At the center is Auriane, the daughter of a Chattian chieftain fated to lead her tribe against Rome but also to disgrace it by murdering her father. On the other side of the Alps is Marcus Julianus, a philosophically disposed nobleman trying to salvage justice under the despotic Nero and Domitian. Marcus is haunted by his late father's vague records of a German warrior maid and the two finally meet when Auriane is captured in Domitian's Chattian campaign. Gillespie depends too much on the reader's indulgence when describing the lovers early meetings; they are portentous fated conjoinings rather than a naturally evolving attraction. But this is a quibble because the romance is secondary to the mature couple's greater, more pressing concerns. For anyone interested in this tumultuous period of Roman despotism and Germanic tribes, Gillespie's epic is an intriguing recording of everyday detail, national issues and, more impressively, overarching influences of religion and psychology. Advertising.
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