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Hadrian's Wall: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – Feb 10 2005

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (Feb. 10 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060563729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060563721
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.4 x 4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 200 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #232,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The northern wind blew across the ridge with a howl like an army of barbarians. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Payton on April 5 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book expecting historical fiction but what I got was a Harlequin Romance novel. I have read every book written by William Dietrich and was initially very excited by the fact he had a new book out combined with the promise of a bit of Roman/British history. Heck, the picture on the cover draws you in and the reputation of the author seals the deal. However, try reading it. Easily 3/4 of the book is about the adventures of a brainless, clueless and genuinely annoying daughter of a Roman senator who is sent out to Brittania to marry Marcus, the new commander of the garrison at one point on the wall. He's a weakling and she doesn't know what shes supposed to be doing as his new wife.
She gets captured, then rescued. Then she's captured again and live with the Celts and learns to appreciate them and falls in love with their chieftan, Arden. After living with the Celts throughout most of the book, learning their "strange ways", she still doesn't know whether to leave or stay. Her first attempt to escape goes awry because she gets lost. After many boring months, she finds out that Arden and her husband's rival, Galba are plotting to overthrow the wall garrisons so the Celts can successfully invade lower (south of Hadrain's Wall) Britain. So she escapes again, successfully this time, aand warns her idiot husband, who, not only disbelieves her, but arrests her as a traitor. Man, at this point you wish someone would off her because everything she does turns out worse.
There is finally a battle at the end, but a very small one and an unsatisfying outcome. For historical fiction, it doesn't need to be set in Roman times, nor at Hadrian's wall. It's simply a bad romance novel that promised so much more. The only thing I wonder is why I read it to the end. Ah, Mr. Dietrich, go back to writing books with likeable and interesting characters, like I know you can.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hadrian's Wall by William Dietrich mixes the culture of a declining Roman empire with the "barbaric" non-Romans of early Britain (Celts, Scottis, etc.) in a love triangle (quadrangle) story. As with his other works of historical fiction, Mr. Dietrich researchs the geographical areas and history of where/what he is writing about, and combines fictional characters with historical.

Valeria, a Roman senator's daughter, is sent to marry Marcus Flavius, who is named Tribune at Hadrian's Wall (built by Roman Emperor Hadrian to keep the barbarians out of the Roman part of Britain) because of this arranged marriage to Valeria. Marcus is replacing Galba Brassidias, a career Roman soldier who has spent his life at the wall and resents being replaced for political reasons by someone with less experience. Valeria is almost kidnapped before her marriage by Arden Caratacus, a Celt and former Roman who lives beyond the Wall in the wild north. He eventually does capture her (with Galba's hidden assistance) and takes her back with him to live.

Although I did enjoy this novel, it did not possess as much history, locale and cultuer as Bill's other historical fiction novels, Napolean's Pyramids and The Scourge of God. Hadrian's Wall was more about the story of Valeria and her romances than about the times and surroundings, which were more balanced in the other two novels.
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Format: Hardcover
I was fooled by the cover and endorsements on the jacket. I was expecting Roman Legions battling it out with barbarians. There is one great battle at the end, but this is really a romance novel set in 375 AD Britain. Tribune Galba Brassidius expects to be the new commander of the Petriana cavalry at the Hadrian Wall fort Petrianais, but he is supplanted by an inexperienced Praefectus, Marcus Flavius, from Rome. Marcus has obtained the post through a financial arrangement with a Roman senator. In exchange for money, Marcus gets the new posting and the hand of the senator's daughter, Valeria. This arrangement gives him the prestige of a senatorial connection, and a field command to further his career. An irate Galba has his own agenda. He has been dealing on both sides of Hadrian's Wall, and he enlists the aide of a Celtic Chieftain, Arden Caratacus, to kidnap Valeria. Galba hopes to incite war between the Celts and Romans and get Marius killed, take his wife, and in the process, become a hero. A naive Valeria loathes Galba's crude advances, is puzzled by her husband's indifference, ignores the worship of young tribune Clodius, and struggles with her growing feelings for the young Celt, Arden. Valeria also ignores the advice of her wise slave Savia. Much of the story is related in the aftermath by Roman investigator Draco, who is trying to piece together the cause of the catastrophe.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Info:
William Dietrich
Two centuries after it was built by the Emperor Hadrian, a Roman couple has come to Britannia to take charge of the Wall, which keeps the barbarian Celts out of Roman Britain. Young Valeria is the daughter of a senator, as dowry she's brought this command to Marcus Flavius, who badly needs some military experience to advance his career. But plumping down the beautiful Valeria and the Marcus in the wilds of Rome's frontier provokes jealousy and passions that lead to war. In particular, the brutal and ambitious soldier Galba Brassidias and the Celtic chief Arden Caratacus are both drawn to Valeria and despise her husband.
If some of the characterizations seem kind of idiosyncratic and ahistorical--their actions, emotions, and openness are awfully modern--there's nonetheless ample enough action and romance to speed us past any tendency to overanalyze it as a work of history. There's also a fascinating tripartite culture clash, with the conflict between the somewhat rigid social conventions of Rome and the wilder, freer life of the Celts and then percolating beneath both the burgeoning influence of the new religion, Christianity, which will plow them both under eventually. It's all framed by the device of an investigation into events that have already transpired, which allows for some discursive passages on the background of the tale but does fracture the narrative at times. You may find yourself wondering why Mr. Dietrich doesn't just get back to the main story.
As historical romances go it's not up to the standards of a Sharon Kay Penman, but it's an ideal beach book, one that you can hand to the spouse when you're done with reasonable confidence they'll enjoy it.
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