The Wald

Written by Jason Born
Review by Steve Donoghue

Born starts his story in 16 BC as the Sugambrian tribe crosses into Roman territory to raid and provokes the retaliation of the Roman Fifth Legion, triggering another round in the ongoing hostilities that characterized Rome’s provinces in Gual for decades. At the center of those hostilities are Born’s two focal characters, a young Sugambri named Berengar and a young Roman named Septimus; it’s mainly through their viewpoints that readers are given the author’s distilled period research, although the story’s more famous historical actors are well fleshed out also, particularly the Roman general Drusus (brother to the future emperor Tiberius), whose campaigns in Gaul are usually given no more than a line in most Roman histories.

Born turns the general and his tactical decisions into the best portrayal of the character since Robert Graves’ I, Claudius. The book’s many action sequences are well done, and although the characters have a tendency to speak in slogans born of distinctly 21st century ideology, there’s a good deal of Braveheart David-vs-Goliath enjoyment to be had here.