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Search tags: Roman-Empire
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review 2018-09-24 23:07
Ruin and Rebirth by Michael Whitehead
Ruin and Rebirth - Michael Whitehead

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works mostly OK as a stand alone. The series is worthy, so I recommend starting at Book 1 for entertainment value.

Lucia and the archer Vitas have made it this far and they aren’t giving up! These were my two favorite characters from Book 1 and it’s good to see they have survived the zombie plague to play important roles in Book 3. It’s been a few months since the end of Book 2, but our little band of heroes is on a nebulous quest. Lucia has gotten better and better with weapons and avoiding zombies. She pulls her own weight while also noting how much she’s stepped outside the typical Roman woman’s role in society. These are extraordinary circumstances and they require shields, weapons, and some common sense. The men in her group are all for it because this is a fight for humanity. No room for shrinking violets here!

Meanwhile, back in Rome proper, some few humans have managed to survive by scavenging for supplies and hiding from zombies. There are a few brave folks that ban together to rescue those that can be brought back to one central location. Garrick, a butcher, is a lead character in these scenes. He’s smart, careful, and becomes a major force in the fight to reclaim Rome.

Flavia and her husband do much to bring the survivors of Rome together. I really like Flavia because she’s competent, gets stuff done, and yet sticks to the societal boundaries of the time and location. She doesn’t get to pick up a weapon but she does use her wits. She shows bravery in the toughest moments and appreciates what others risk to keep her and others safe.

Back in Germania, Vitus and Lucia keep moving their band north. Regulus is at the heart of something, having visions of the source of the plague. Vedus (spelling?) has been showing Regulus a temple via these visions. So there’s this supernatural quality to the story and as it progresses, Regulus becomes more and more aware of what might await them. Lucia and Vitus do everything they can to get the weakening Regulus north.

The Roman Empire was huge and contained many cultures. This series and this book have nods to that. There’s a young Chinese lad and the Persian warrior Harkour. And the Spaniard (Gallus, if I recall correctly). I love that the Roman Empire isn’t white washed in this series.

The final conclusion to the tale is carried out on two fronts: the truth of Regulus’s visions and back in the City of Rome where frenzied zombies threaten to eradicate human life. It was only in the last moments that I realized what a toll this plague would take. It pulled on my heart strings, being both horrible and beautiful at once. The concept of sacrifice is well captured in these scenes. It’s a worthy ending to a worthy series. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Terry Self is his usual outstanding. Every character was distinct and the ladies sounded like women. I especially appreciate how he kept Vitus and Vedus very clearly delineated from each other as it would be easy for a listener to mix up these names if the narration was sub-par. His true gift this time is working with all the emotions of the characters. They are seeing their society fall in short order and so much has already been lost. I also liked his various accents. The pacing was perfect and there were no technical issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

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url 2018-09-11 00:15
My one hundred eighteenth podcast is up!
Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian - Peter Heather

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Peter Heather about his book on Emperor Justinian's efforts to reconstruct the Roman empire in the west in the 6th century AD. Enjoy!

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url 2018-08-10 14:15
My one hundred fourteenth podcast is up!
Cleopatra's Daughter: And Other Royal Women of the Augustan Era - Duane W. Roller

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Duane W. Roller about his new study of the lives and roles of royal women in the early years of the Roman empire. Enjoy!

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review 2018-03-29 01:35
A useful introduction to an important monarch
Charles V: Elected Emperor and Hereditary Ruler (Men in Office) - Manuel Fernández Álvarez

Charles V stands as one of the greatest monarchs in history. As king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, he ruled over an empire that stretched over four continents to total over 1.5 million square miles. His reign included innumerable wars, dynastic struggles, and the growing challenges posted by the Protestant Reformation to the religious stability of Europe. Yet for all of Charles's prominence there are few biographies available in English about him, leaving readers with few options when it comes to studying the life of this fascinating figure.

 

This problem only enhances the value of Manuel Fernández Álvarez’s short study, which provides a concise description of Charles’s life and reign for interested readers. Álvarez presents Charles as a devout ruler who struggled to manage such a diverse and far-flung empire. Much of his reign was spent in transit, having to deal with various expensive crises at one end of his European realm or another. Succeeding to the Spanish throne after the death of his grandfather, Ferdinand, he had to address the discontent of many Castilians, which broke out into open rebellion. Winning election to the Holy Roman Emperorship in 1519 only added to his burdens, particularly with the challenge posed by the French king Francis I. Francis emerges in Álvarez’s narrative as Charles’ bete noire, particularly after Francis broke his oath to the Holy Roman Emperor after his release from Charles’s custody in 1526, and the two often struggled for dominance in Europe. Though Charles enjoyed further successes, final victory was perhaps unattainable, and a series of setbacks led Charles to retire from the throne three years before his early death in 1558.

 

To summarize such a reign is no easy feat, and it is a measure of Álvarez’s ability that he does so as efficiently as he does. Yet the author’s narrative suffers from a lack of analysis. There is little sense of his subject’s inner life, and his explanation of Charles’s motivations, strategies, or broader goals is similarly deficient. Though such an absence is somewhat understandable in a book as short as this one, it is lamentable given Álvarez’s expertise on his subject and the dearth of English-language biographies of this fascinating figure. As a result, English-language readers desiring to learn about the emperor might find themselves having to settle for this informative yet ultimately limited study, which serves as a good introduction but for now has to fill a larger gap than it should.

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review 2018-02-04 16:24
Are Heroes Human Beings?
The Heirs of Fortune - Heather Domin

 

 

 

 

The tale of Drusus Germanicus , who was a Roman politician and military commander / January 14, 38 BC– summer of 9 BC / , is told from an interesting perspective. I will not focus on this-
overall, just as in the first book, the whole depiction of the setting is great. 

Please, keep in mind the book is quite heavy on historical facts and with not so much focus on romance. 

 

What I expected was maybe to see the characters more as humans, not so much as heroes. 
I wished they would surprise me, I hoped to think and feel with them. In stead, I felt more like a bystander, and they were more untouchable than ever. 
Which I didn't really expect, since the first book laid the foundation for different understanding on the image of the Classical Hero. 

As far as I checked, the author is planning on writing a third book- Valerian's Legion: The War of Illyria - maybe that's where the surprises I hope for will be. 

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