Guardians at the Wall Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B08Y85DJYB
- Publication date : March 6, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 3088 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 226 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #65,401 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
The novel opens at Hadrian's Wall in the present day where a group of third-year archaeological students are taking part in a dig. Narrated in the first person by one of the students, Noah Jessop, it was immediately apparent that his enthusiasm for the subject would be infectious, particularly after he makes his first find. His course tutor, Professor Maggie Wilde is an influential, passionate woman but when she advises him as to what direction he might take his dissertation in, it seems that perhaps her interest in him extends beyond the academic.
It's Noah's dissertation that connects us with the past as he decides to look for a narrative and at Maggie's suggestion, to follow the story of an individual soldier or officer. As he prepares for an evening with his mates, the novel switches to Vindolanda, a Roman Fort near Hadrian's Wall in 180CE where Gaius Atticianus has a hangover. While Noah is a young man, Gaius is a seasoned officer who at first appears to be rather irritable. He seems to have little time for the questions of a youthful guard, Amborix but his bravery and honour become more evident after he hears an owl hoot and rightly fears it as a bad omen.
The segments which take place in the past acknowledge the ever-present danger that these border legions lived in. Gaius has to fight a number of bloody conflicts and these dramatic scenes are tense and exciting. He was the son of an olive farmer in Asturia and was handed over to a Roman recruiting officer at the age of fifteen. Having risen through the ranks, marching through Iberia and Gaul to Germania, his promotion to centurion was earned on the battlefield before his cavalry cent was posted to Britannia. However, he is not just a powerful warrior and as the story progresses, we learn more about him as a skilled strategist and leader of men and as a family man who yearns to spend time with his wife and young son. His wife is a Briton and he has made an effort to learn the local language; it's clear that while he is ruthless on the battlefield, he tries to forge more cordial relationships with the various tribes even though his trusting nature may be taken advantage of.
The Roman sections of the book are perhaps the most thrilling, especially to an historical fiction lover but there is still much to enjoy in the present-day passages. Noah finds himself attracted to two women and his keenness tempered by his naive confusion is only too believable; whereas one makes her interest in him more obvious, the other has her own complicated romantic entanglement which perhaps pushes him in the less wise direction. However, although his love life is a fairly light-hearted subplot, there is a more compelling development which adds intrigue and tension to these chapters too.
The two men become linked through a chest of coins which Gaius has buried and then Noah tracks after translating an ancient tablet which describes where it was left. This provides him with the inspiration he needs for his dissertation while the readers are taken back in time to discover in vivid detail what led to that point and what happened afterwards. By the end of the novel, Noah has formed his own theory as to the fate of Gaius and it's a striking reminder that archaeology is an imprecise science which has already opened up much of our ancient past but where there are still gaps in our knowledge, some of the conjecture may never be proven right or wrong.
Guardians at the Wall is fiction, of course but such meticulously researched, engaging writing ensures that this riveting story is imbued throughout with an evocative sense of authenticity. Highly recommended.
Tim Walker has imagined the challenging life of one Roman centurian stationed at Hadrian's Wall, and it is a bonus that this soldier's energetic, eventful, and sometimes violent story is balanced and leavened with an intertwined tale of a young archaeologist exploring Vindolanda in the present day. At nearly three hundred pages, this book kept me very happily absorbed and entertained for several hours, and I finished it knowing much more than I had before about the Roman occupation of northern Britain.
Although separated by 2,000, the author has cleverly interlinked the two narratives in a way that they support each other and moves them along at a fair lick with some compelling characters and plenty of action.
The historical narrative seems well researched and the picture of life on the edge of the Roman Empire in the second century is evocative.
If you like your Romans cold, wet and gritty, this book is well worth your time.