Brennus Conqueror of Rome Terror Gallicus
This is the first in a trilogy following the mass migration of Gauls led by Brennus across the Alps to wreak havoc on Rome at the close of the fourth century BC. The novel follows two characters in alternating chapters: a young tribal leader, Solemis who rides with Brennus to Rome, and a young female druid, Cartumandua. The action in these chapters occupies different spheres; Cartumandua pursues a quest in Britain then across Europe and by the end of volume one the two threads have yet to combine.
This narrative device is a difficult trick to pull off and demands close attention over the first quarter of the book but once the reader is bedded in, it works well. This is facilitated by the book having been well researched, although, the author’s constant use of ancient terminology requires concentration. It is worth the effort as the narrative is well paced and the characters, especially Cartumandua well constructed and engaging. The portrayal of the differing cultures is skilfully fleshed out and this is particularly effective when the Romans make their appearance late in the book.
A story of this nature depends heavily on its set piece action passages and these are effectively written and well spaced out allowing the characters time to develop. The book ends dramatically, whetting the appetite for the next instalment. There are a few minor errors in the text but this is a well-produced book and the reader is in the hands of a writer who has researched the period and knows it comfortably enough to fill in some of the gaps in the evidence convincingly, and who is sufficiently confident to introduce a female druid.
The real test of writing a series is the answer to the question “Do I want to read the rest of the trilogy”? I look forward with pleasurable anticipation to volume two, having enjoyed this far more than most of the commercially published fiction I have read and reviewed over the past two years.