From Publishers Weekly
The limit of Roman imperial expansion in Britannia is marked by Hadrian's Wall, a fortification constructed in the second century A.D. to keep the northern barbarians from invading Rome's island province. Award-winning author Dietrich's fourth novel is an epic historical drama of warfare, treachery and political intrigue centered on Rome's most remote and desolate frontier outpost. In the fourth century A.D., the Celtic barbarians are restless, revolt is imminent and the hard-pressed Roman garrison on the frontier has a new cavalry commander. Brutally efficient veteran soldier Galba is replaced by scholarly aristocrat Marcus, whose appointment is the payoff of an arranged marriage to a senator's daughter. When Marcus's beautiful young wife, Valeria, arrives at the frontier, she becomes an unwitting pawn in the plots of Galba, Marcus and the Celtic chieftain, Arden Caratacus. Marcus seeks glory and a return to the comforts of Rome; Galba seeks power and revenge; and Caratacus seeks freedom from Roman oppression. All three men covet Valeria, but for very different reasons, eventually driving her to betray them all in a desperate effort to save them from war and disaster. Murder, betrayal, witchcraft and shifting loyalties add suspense and tension to this vivid tale. Dietrich's descriptions of Roman-style battle are bloody and graphic, with legionnaires wielding shield and sword against naked barbarians shrieking and swinging battleaxes. Dietrich is in top form with this rousing tale.
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Dietrich realistically re-creates the tumult and the confusion that characterized Rome's last-gasp attempt to retain its stronghold in Britannia as the empire faltered and began to crumble in the latter half of the fourth century. Built early in the second century, Hadrian's Wall was both an engineering and a military marvel. Eighty miles long, the impressive barrier separated Roman Britain from the barbaric Celtic tribes ever threatening the border. Passed over as commander of the Petriana Cavalry for purely political reasons, battle-hardened Galba Bassidias hatches a treasonous plot to disgrace Lucius Marcus Flavius, the ambitious aristocrat sent to usurp him. When Marcus' betrothed, Valeria, a senator's daughter, arrives from Rome, Galba immediately begins to manipulate them both. However, Valeria proves more resourceful and resilient than Galba ever imagined. Kidnapped by a Celt employed by Galba, she falls in love with her captor, provoking a battle that signals the beginning of the end for both Hadrian's Wall and the mighty Roman Army in Britain. Page-turning historical fiction seething with action, adventure, and passion. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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