Attila: The Gathering of the Storm
In the second volume of William Napier’s Attila trilogy, the prince returns from exile to reclaim his place as king from his usurping uncle. But it is not mere revenge Attila seeks – thirty years of survival in barren wastelands has forged something stronger in his heart. He has a single goal: to unite all the Huns into one people, a people as empowered and unified as they were in the legends of ancient times, not a scattered federation of tribes but a powerful, mobile empire. Attila assembles a cadre of chosen men and begins training his people for conquest. One by one, through battle and bribery, the eastern tribes come under his rule. Attila pursues his goal relentlessly, ignoring loss and danger, waiting for the day when he will turn his gaze to the west and take his new empire all the way to the slowly rusting gates of Rome.
The middle book in a trilogy is often the least complete, but the introduction here immediately captures the reader and brings the story up to date without any shoehorning. The story stands on its own, yet it also entices the reader to come back for the conclusion. Not a book for the squeamish, the author never shies from describing the brutality of life and death among Attila’s people. The scene-setting is marvelous, the dialogue curt and snappish, the history incredibly real. The shift to Rome in the middle halts the flow somewhat, with a different and less engrossing style, but the rest of the book makes up for it. This is an adventure as consuming as the fires that blaze through its pages, as thrilling as the arrows singing through every word. It is sure to raise the blood of any battle-loving reader. Highly recommended.