From Publishers Weekly
A distinguished science fiction author (Bug Jack Barron, etc.) turns to historical fiction with this sweeping but unremarkable tale of the myth-infused adventures of Vercingetorix, the greatest and last leader of the Gauls against the Romans under Julius Caesar. As a young man, Vercingetorix is forced into hiding after the execution of his father, who tries to usurp the leadership of the Gauls. Trained by the Druids in the arts of war and magic-his teachers are the Arch Druid Guttuatr and the dazzling swordswoman Rhia, who has pledged to live as a virgin warrior-Vercingetorix is visited by premonitions and dreams of his grand but tragic fate. When his learning is complete, he is manipulated into an alliance with a certain Gaius Julius Caesar, a master of war and intrigue, a leader with great ability and few scruples. Reasoning cleverly with the young man, Caesar also reintroduces him to his childhood love, the beautiful Marah. Vercingetorix is to become a client king through whom the Romans will rule Gaul, but when he realizes that his father's death was part of the plot, he turns ferociously against the Romans. The conclusion is a series of grand battle scenes interwoven with mystic visions. The author's sympathies are clearly with the Gauls, but he is balanced in his portrait of Roman and Gallic factionalism, and reconstructs a Celtic society without the worshipful attitude that marks many fictional treatments of those creative and valiant folk. It's a solid, intelligent effort-but readers familiar with Spinrad's iconoclastic science fiction novels will find it disappointingly conventional, despite the mystical trappings.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Science fiction author Spinrad switches genres, refashioning an intriguing legend into an epic piece of historical fiction. When Julius Caesar set his sights westward, determined to expand the Roman Empire into Gaul, only one man stood in his way: Vercingetorix. Dubbed the king of the Druids, Vercingetorix accomplished the seemingly impossible when he united the disparate tribes of Gaul into a fighting force determined to prevent the Romans from encroaching any further into Gallic territory. A crafty leader and a fearless warrior who, ironically, had been trained as a youth in the Roman army, he organized a brilliant resistance that briefly threatened the military prowess of Rome. In fact, much is made of the fact that Caesar had to enlist the aid of the Teutons, a Germanic tribe, in order to crush the Gallic rebellion. Spinrad breathes new life into a mythical figure, reimagining the adventures and the motivations of a larger-than-life superhero. Replete with action and intrigue, this fictional biography is distinguished by the attention paid to the details of the Celtic, Latin, and Germanic cultures. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved