To Forestall the Darkness

Written by Vann Turner
Review by Steve Donoghue

Turner’s gripping novel brings alive a period of history seldom visited by historical fiction: sixth- century Italy at a time when waves of Lombard invasions have shattered the power of Rome and, in the viewpoint of the nearly-conquered at any rate, threatened the fabric of Western civilization itself. The novel uses this historical crossroads to highlight debates about social values and the nature of power and puts a key figure at its center: the Roman magistrate Titus Tribonius, a good man who wants very strongly to hold onto the good things Roman civilization has brought to the world. Through many long passages of sharp, intelligent dialogue between Titus and his friends, the chaos of a war-torn world (and the conflicting strains of newborn religions as well) is sifted and examined. There are a good many fascinating sub-plots and a good deal of smart, earthy humor enlivens these pages and makes the reader eager for further novels in this series. Highly recommended.