- File Size: 737 KB
- Print Length: 226 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Quinn Publications; 1 edition (October 19, 2014)
- Publication Date: October 19, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00NDDDZOE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,118,550 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Fate of an Emperor (Overlord Book 2) Kindle Edition
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The first problem that I had was the portraying of Zenobia as some kind of “nationalistic” leader, or more exactly the wife of the leader, bent upon taking advantage of Rome’s difficulties and breaking away from it to become independent. It is difficult to believe that Odenathus, depicted as entirely pro-Roman, would have tolerated such behaviour from his wife, however much he may have loved her and despite the fact that their marriage was clearly a political union. It is very hard to believe that he would have let her become the chief of a somewhat rival faction whose more extreme positions could only undermine his own, particularly with the army of Palmyra upon which his power rested. Zenobia’s role and her push for independence is therefore pure fiction. I would not have minded if this was plausible and credible, given the historical context. Unfortunately, it is not.
Palmyra had nothing to gain by breaking away from Rome at the time, especially since all of its trade was done with Rome. It was also part of the Roman Empire. It had greatly profited from this until a couple of decades before this series begins (i.e. up to the 230s or so). It had probably even extended its control to the Euphrates after the successful invasions of Septimius Severus toward the end of the second century AD, if not before under Lucius Verus (in the 160s AD). It is even possible that it was, on behalf of the Romans, in control of Dura Europos where the ships coming from the India and the Persian Gulf would offload their goods and put them on caravans heading for Roman Syria via Palmyra.
Second, as just about all Emperors or generals who were ultimately killed, especially if killed when losing the battle, their reign, achievements and characters have tended to be “blackened” and they were made into rather convenient scape goats for the disasters that they presided over. Accordingly, Emperor Valerian gets rather poorly treated in the Roman sources and it is rather doubtful as to whether he was as useless and incompetent as he is generally portrayed to be. It is even less likely that he was the kind of craven, duplicitous coward that JD Smith makes him into and it is totally implausible that he would ever have proposed to Shapur the Sassanid King of Kings to “buy peace” by handing him over Palmyra, in striking distance of Roman Syria. No Roman Emperor could have done something like this and hoped to survive for very long on the throne, and Valerian certainly knew this, given the conditions of his own rise to the throne a few years earlier.
Third, the author mentions that Emperor Valerian gathered together a huge army of some 70000 from various parts of the Empire to face the Persians, with this being drawn from Shapur inscription commemorating his triumph and his capture of Valerian. This number is highly suspicious for several reasons. It seems to have been inflated by the Persians for obvious propaganda reasons, just like the allegedly 60000 Romans defeated a few years before at Barbalissos. Such numbers could perhaps represent the grand total of Roman forces present on the Eastern frontier. Besides, the major expeditions lead by previous emperors, from Trajan to Gordian III, could very well have reached, or perhaps even slightly exceeded such a high total. However, this was less likely to have been the case in AD 260 because the numbers that could be spared from either the Danube or the Rhine forces must have been limited, given the pressure on both borders, and because the legions and possibly the auxiliary forces in the East are likely to have already been somewhat understrength given the heavy losses that they had to sustain over the past couple of decades. The point here is that the Romans were unlikely to have been able to field more than forty or fifty thousand, at most, and the Persian forces may have been of a similar size since they do had to leave substantial numbers to guard their own northern frontiers against the various potential invaders coming from the steppe.
Fourth, as the author acknowledges in her historical note, “there is no documentation” about the role played by Palmyra, and about Zenobia in particular, in the betrayal of Emperor Valerian to the Persians. This is in fact an understatement because there is in fact nothing in the sources that even acknowledges the presence of Odenathus and Palmyra’s army, let alone Zenobia, at the Emperor’s side at Edessa before he was captured. In all likelihood, there were not, since Odenathus’ role would have been to protect the Empire’s southern flank and defend the border along the Euphrates (or what was left of it after the fall of Dura in AD 256).
Fifth, it is also entirely implausible that Zenobia would have headed an embassy to Shapur on behalf of the Roman Emperor. Sending a woman to negotiate with the Persian monarch, and the wife of one of Valerian’s generals and subordinates (because Palmyra was not even a semi-independent client state at the time) would have been the best way to mortally offend the Persian monarch and make him lose face in front of his whole army and nobles. It was no way whatsoever to achieve peace, even assuming that the Roman Emperor was ready to sign away vast tracts of land, something which, as mentioned above, he simply could not afford to do.
Having mentioned all these reservations, I must admit that I very much enjoyed reading this book. I found the story rather exciting. However, this was more fiction than history, and fiction which, quite often, were rather implausible. Three stars.
The story picks up right where we left off in The Rise of Zenobia, with Zabdas recounting his stories to his granddaughter. As with the first book, I feel like the story flowed quite well back and forth from past to present. Many more details are revealed throughout the story and I was left wanting more of the story.
What I really appreciate about this book and the first one is all the wonderful information I've learned about a time period I knew very little about. It's fascinating to me to learn about the every day details of the people from this time so long ago.
I'd really recommend this to anyone looking to learn more about this time in history, you won't be disappointed.
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