Born’s “Wald Chronicles” continue with his latest book, Wald Afire (follow-up to last year’s very enjoyable The Wald), taking readers back to the late first century B.C., to the violent era of Germania’s subjugation to the legions of Rome. The story centers around Berengar, brave and noble survivor of so much of the first book’s violence, but the scope and narrative assurance of this book are much greater in this new outing. Scenes shift across dozens of locations, from the outermost wildernesses of the Empire, to the Rome of the early Caesars, from cold and snowy forests to searing-hot deserts.
Born’s dialog can lean a little toward creaky exposition at times, but his talent for scene-setting is stronger than ever, and the main emotional conflict into which he throws his young hero (involving a woman named Thusnelda) is effectively drawn. This series draws a very sharp picture of the complexities of imperial occupation; fans of Roman historical fiction should not miss it.