The Sower of the Seeds of Dreams

Written by Bill Page
Review by Helen Hollick

Roman Britain, 368 AD. Acting Primicerius Canio has become mixed up in the death of a suspected deserter who, in his dying breath, tells of a lake which is the hiding place of looted gold. He begs Canio to take a little statue of Hecate—the goddess associated with magic and witchcraft—and return her to the lake. Forging a pass for official leave, Canio goes off in search of the gold on the pretence of looking for a missing comrade who vanished in mysterious circumstances a year ago (as told in the prequel story, The Moon on the Hills) The young Priestess Vilbia, who also seeks the missing Saturninus, accompanies Canio—but she is aware of the statue hidden in his saddlebag and is desperate to renew her faith in the Goddess who failed to protect the man she thought she loved.

Set in 4th-century Roman Britain in Gloucestershire and Somerset, this is an exciting romp of an adventure. Although I have not read the first book, enough of the backstory is skilfully woven into the narrative to give the gist of what previously happened, making this an excellent stand-alone novel.

Bill Page has created characters that are so real he could almost be writing a biography—and the touch of supernatural is written convincingly enough to be believable. Was Hecate using her influence, or were the mysterious happenings merely coincidences? Bill Page cunningly leaves that for the reader to decide.

Without giving things away, the ending somewhat surprised me. Canio’s reaction was a bit of a shock, but was, perhaps, true to character. I loved this novel, although some readers may find the Latin place names etc., confusing. It is always difficult for an historical fiction author to decide whether to use correct, unfamiliar, words and names or to modernise them and risk spoiling the overall air of authenticity.

Bill Page knows his history and knows how to write—this is the standard of self-publishing that all independent authors should aim at. Lovers of Roman British novels, make sure you don’t miss this thoroughly enjoyable read!

** Shortlisted for the 2014 HNS Indie Award **