- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312333609
- ISBN-13: 978-0312333607
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,788,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sword of Attila: A Novel of the Last Years of Rome Hardcover – February 24, 2005
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"An exhilarating journey into madness and destiny...this is first-class writing...impeccably researched, a surge of bloody excitement."--Salem Statesman Journal
"Michael Curtis Ford strips away the civilities of modern life. When you pull yourself out of the last page, you know you've been told one of our Story's huge moments, by a master storyteller, whose stunning sweep & involvement is only matched by his expertise in breathing alive again, our heroic & gory past.--rebeccasreads.com
From the Back Cover
The Last King:
"Michael Curtis Ford's love for the ancient world emanates from every page: in his magical settings and spectacular re-creation of monuments and landscapes, in his bold portraits of the protagonists, and in his intriguing and swiftly moving plot."
- Valerio Massimo Manfredi, author of the Alexander Trilogy and Spartan
"The book demonstrates the author's ability to imagine the Roman world from its periphery and shows the same mastery of military history as his first novel, The Ten Thousand."
- Publishers Weekly
"...a swift and exciting story. Brutal, straightforward, exciting and informative...a hair-trigger
ride on ancient sands and hills. This is Ford's best so far, and only those who have read his
first two know just how good that makes this book."
- The Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon)
Gods and Legions:
"Thanks to the author's excellent research of both his subject and era, the reader experiences this great man's transformation step by determined step. Highly recommended."
- The Historical Novels Review
"Stirring and adventurous tragedy of the first rank, written with all of the gusto of a master."
The Ten Thousand:
"A worthy successor to Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire."
- Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Thrilling, eloquent, illuminated by scholarship, comes this retelling of the epic running battle of the Ten Thousand from Babylon to the sea."
- James Brady, author of the bestseller The Marine
"Michael Curtis Ford's moving account of the fighting and dying of these heroic Greek mercenaries is not only historically sound, but very human, in making Xenophon's tale come alive in a way that no ancient historian or classicist has yet accomplished."
- Professor Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Soul of Battle
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Top Customer Reviews
The Sword of Attila by Michael Curtis Ford is about this battle - but it is more about the juxtaposition of two of the defining figures of the age, the Roman general Aetius and the Hun King Attila. Aetius was the last great general of the Western Roman Empire, stoic and indefatigable with barbarian ties of his own. Rather than portraying Attila as the blood thirsty psychotic he is usually remembered as, Ford paints the picture of a complex man completely devoted to a cold philosophy. The book excels, though, in tracing the relationship between the two, who according to Ford were childhood friends and even fought alongside each other (which is plausible given the shifting allegiances characteristic of the time).
Ford's novel is of the traditional military adventure style. It full of superlatives, and is about manly men doing manly things with only a few female stock characters (i.e. the dutiful wife, the wicked secubis, etc.) making cameo appearances. Ford writes well, but is not trying to wow you with his writing - he is trying to wow you with his story. The ending is a bit Hollywood. However, he works in a great many details that give one a good feel for the classical world - not just in terms of military matters but also a touch of philosophy, ideology, and beliefs - that make the story ring true.
A number of reviewers here have cast stones at this novel for being "inaccurate". First of all, the description of the battle and the protagonists' lives are quite accurate; it is only the details that Ford sometimes seems to stumble on. The Roman army he describes is very much a traditional one, and not what we would have been likely to encounter in Late Antiquity. However, I feel that crying "inaccuracy" over such matters is not always fair. The Fifth Century is very difficult to write about because anachronisms come from both sides. Much was changing rapidly, there is a paucity of sources on the matter, and even the sources we have are plagued by a strange convention of the times that made educated men write about their world with feigned ignorance (such as calling all mounted nomads "Scythians"). Many times we know that some details and conventions changes, but we have little information on what they changed to. If the information is available, does it warrant the half-page diatribe that would be required every time something new is presented? So if you are the type of person who will be deeply annoyed when the writer talks about a Roman army in 451 wearing sandals, red cloaks in summer, wearing breast plates, and marching 20 miles a day and digging 144 cubic feet of trench per night, or if you do not like seeing ale sweetened with honey being called "mead" then skip this book. But if you are interested in exploring these amazing and dramatic events and getting into the heads of these amazing people then I readily recommend The Sword of Attila.
- David Gray Rodgers, author of The Songs of Slaves
It doesn't depict with any level of accuracy the Roman army of that period. The Roman army at this time was not dressed in traditional legionnaire garb. Any basic reference of that period would clearly advise that this is not accurate. The actual dress of the Roman soldier on the 4th and 5th century is more like a early medieval knight as shown in many good sources on this subject. The Roman army at this time was in major decline and this is not shown with any degree of accuracy.
It provides almost a comic book view of the Huns. These were violent and brutal people.
Finally, the numbers provided for each side are absurd. (Yes, they are!) The Hun army at the time of the battle of the Catalaunian fields is referenced as being one million men. Even the sources of the time, which are considered to be way too high, provide the number as between 300-700,000. Terry Gore advises in his book, Neglected Heroes, that the accurate numbers were from 35,000-45,000 for each side (with the Romans and their allies outnumbering the Huns unlike what this book suggests), and Arther Ferrill in that great book, The Fall of the Roman Empire, the Military Explanation, references that the 300-700,000 men provided in the original sources are not accurate just indicators from these sources that this was a major battle. Well, 35,000-45,000 men each is a major battle for that time.
In order to put some perspective on the numbers, his 500,000 Alammani are 15 times the numbers fought in the battle of Strasbourg. His 250,000 Romans are 20 times the numbers fought in the battle of Strasbourg (100 years earlier when the Roman army was more powerful). This number would have been more than any number of Romans who fought in a battle at any time prior to that, including the Civil Wars between Caesar and Pompey. And, this was 25 years prior to the end of the empire.
I wouldn't make such an issue of this if the author didn't keep harping on the numbers. But, his insistence on the numbers are just an indication of a poorly written book.