In the years after the destruction of his legion, Praetor Gaius Marcellinus comes to realize that Rome will send another army to Nova Hesperia and that the tribes must unite to have any chance of independent survival. His advice is anathema to the fiercely proud warrior culture of the Cahokians, intent on revenge against the Iroqua.
So begins another long struggle for Marcellinus. He is the ultimate outsider, trusted by few and only occasionally by them. The beginning of the book is slow, and I admit that I struggled a bit, but it is well worth the wait. Smale has a tremendous imagination and I could not begin to foresee the turns that the plot would take. I am now wishing I had the third book to read!
My only other criticism is that I would have liked to know more about the characters as people, rather than as assets in a battle. When Marcellinus at one point talked about Hurit being charmingly engaging, it surprised me, made me like her, and made me understand her usefulness to Tahtay.
I received an advance review copy from NetGalley.
I love alternate histories and this was a fascinating one. In the thirteenth century, a Roman legion crosses the Atlantic to North America in search of gold. The portrayal of Roman expansionism is not unexpected, but the portrayal of native Americans is surprising and intriguing. The story is told from the point of view of Marcellinus, the Roman Praetor, who is an exceptionally resourceful and adaptable individual. He meets the challenge of a new continent with supreme confidence and minimal knowledge about the new continent and native people. His lack of knowledge often leads to unintended consequences. There are clashes of armies, cultures, egos, agendas and more. It is difficult to say more without spoilers, but I am looking forward to the next book.
I received a free advanced review copy of this book.