Germanic tribes and Roman legions in the dark forests of the north
The resurgence in interest in the historical novel has brought to public attention many new authors offering their readers tales based on virtually every period of history. The exotic era of the Rome of the Caesars and its legendary legions has become especially popular. Of course, although the historical novel spent a long period in the wilderness it was once every bit as popular as it is today and its standard of historical research to achieve authenticity was often to a very high standard. This authenticity combined with a fine writing style created many exciting books for the audiences of the day. Leonaur is pleased to bring one of these authors, Felix Dahn, back to public attention. Dahn was primarily an academic specialising in the Roman Empire as it impacted on what is today modern Germany. He was also expert in the advances of the Gothic tribes towards the end of Roman period. The two books in this volume are based in the north of the Roman empire. Felicitas is centred on Juvavum—the modern day Salzburg—of AD. 476 and is an adventure set in the time of the invasion of the Danubian regions by the hostile Germanic tribes. The second novel, A Captive of the Roman Eagles takes place in A.D. 378 where the Germanic Alemanni come into collision with the force of Roman legions. Lovers of well crafted, intelligent fiction against an accurate background of the ancient Imperial Roman period will find much to satisfy them in this special two in one Leonaur edition. Available in softcover and hardcover with dust jacket.
The bands had assented, and they loyally kept their word: not a man turned from the battle, or left the ranks to plunder, or even stooped to pick up the costly gold and silver articles which the slaves, flying from Ausonius’s tent, had tried to hide, or perhaps steal. The slaves had soon thrown down these articles that they might not be hampered in their flight.<br>
Obedient to Hariowald’s orders, the Alemanni drove the fugitives from all directions toward the central street of the camp; so the confused torrent which, hitherto, had poured through many separate channels southward, was dammed by this obstacle and checked.<br>
The first men, still running at full speed down the narrow side paths at the right and left, squeezed past the wide rows of carts, or, if not too much crowded by their neighbours, climbed over them; but both plans soon became possible only by the most violent struggles for precedence on the part of the fugitives, as the hundreds driven here and there by the Duke’s followers rushed upon the closed ranks of the two leaders’ orderly columns. These fugitives pressed forward with the strength of despair, especially after they perceived, with horror, that throwing down their weapons and surrendering did not save them from death.
“Woe, they are killing every one! Make way! Let us pass! They are murdering the prisoners!”
“No!” shouted the Duke to the nearest shrieker, “they are not murdering the prisoners, for they have none!” and struck him down.<br>
Then the ranks which had remained closed began to waver. Saturninus succeeded in crowding past the wagons on the right and hastened onward toward the gate. The scene was brightly lighted by many blazing tents, into which the victors had flung faggots smeared with pitch and resin. At the corner of one of the cross streets Saturninus saw two of his beautiful large dogs, with torn bodies, lying one above the other, while he heard the others barking furiously, and at intervals the sound of fierce growling. The next instant he was pushed far forward by the men crowding behind him. He looked around for Ausonius, who had been mounted, and saw him on foot trying to climb over the barricade of wagons. He was making slow progress, and already, close upon this band of fugitives, the war-cry of the pursuers sounded nearer and nearer.<br>
The Tribune ordered several pioneers whom he met to break a passage with their axes through the carts for Ausonius and the left column. The men did not obey willingly; they were reluctant to turn back, with the Decumanian Gate in sight, to meet the furious attack of the foe; but Roman military discipline and the habit of obedience to their honoured General again conquered, so they went to meet Ausonius, while the Tribune hastened onward.<br>
The rising flames, the echoing blows of the axes, accompanied by the ominous crash of splintering wood, urged the Tribune to still greater speed; this gate must not be opened from the outside if his last attempt to escape was not to fail. But scarcely had he reached the open space before it, when fresh cries of despair rose from the column at the left commanded by Ausonius. Before the pioneers had broken a passage to the Prefect, his men had been reached by the arrows and spears of the pursuers, and he himself, falling between two wagons, suddenly vanished from their eyes. Loud lamentations from his followers burst forth.
Then the pioneers turned and fled in the opposite direction; the Barbarians were threatening on the left, so they ran down one of the cross streets at the right which intersected the central one.<br>
“Fly,” called the foremost one, running directly past Herculanus, who was making desperate but fruitless efforts to tear with his unchained hands the solid oak-block from the earth or to release his feet from the small holes and iron clamps. “Fly! Ausonius has fallen!”<br>
“Ausonius is dead!” shouted the second; throwing away his heavy axe, which impeded his flight. It fell near the prisoner, who, without heeding the violent pain which the movement caused to his strained feet and bruised ankles, stretched both arms toward it. Triumph! He could reach it. At least he could touch the handle with the tips of his fingers, draw it slowly nearer, then at last seize and drag it to his side.<br>
One of Ausonius’s slaves, who had been wounded by an arrow, limped along more slowly. “Oh, my kind master, Ausonius! He has fallen. He is dead.”<br>
“Dead?” cried Herculanus, “are you sure he is dead?”<br>
But the fugitive had not heard, or did not wish to hear him—he had already moved on to Davus.
“Help me!” wailed the latter. “Don’t leave me here to burn—or to fall into the hands of the Barbarians!” <br>
“Miserable murderer!” was the only answer. The fugitive had already disappeared around the corner.