Book Review: THE FORT, continues Goldsworthy’s run of compelling Roman military fiction

The Fort, City of Victory Book One is the first in what I assume is a new series of Roman military fiction novels by Adrian Goldsworthy, author of The Vindolanda Saga. I had read and thoroughly enjoyed that trilogy last year, so I jumped at the chance to read Goldsworthy’s newest work, only released in June.

I further hoped that this series would continue the saga of Flavius Ferox, the Roman Centurion and Prince of the Silures of Britannia whose dual-lives are always in conflict as he serves Rome.

The Fort once again follows Ferox, who has just arrived to a new posting in Dacia, a Roman province long troubled by local tribes and in which the Emperor Trajan had only recently established a more permanent foothold.

This continuation of the saga of Flavius Ferox is well written and narrated. The plot beats will feel very familiar to readers of Vindolanda, but I did not find the story as compelling as Goldsworthy’s earlier series. Ferox arrives in his new post in command of a detachment of Brigantes, all sworn to their new Queen Claudia Anica (herself sworn to Rome and now Ferox’s wife), and expecting a battle against the Dacians. The battle comes, of course, and becomes a siege of the fort whose name I can neither spell nor find online. (It’s possible this was fabricated for Goldsworthy’s story, like the titular fortification of Vindolanda of the previous series.)

Aside from mainstays like Vindex, Claudia Anica, and Sulpichia Lepidina, there is a largely new cast of characters. I found the politicking of Roman bureaucrats a bit dull in this story and even difficult to follow. It seemed like several characters were introduced and then discarded before the end of the story, except for Hadrian, tribune sent to Dacia, nephew of Trajan, and (for anyone who knows a bit of Roman history) the future emperor. Without giving away the ending to The Fort, Hadrian’s relationship with Ferox is likely drive much of the personal and political conflict in upcoming stories, and that is something to look forward to.

Other than that, I found myself leaning pretty heavily on Ferox’s interactions with his three close friends to stay attached to this story. I think the best scenes were those between Ferox and Claudia Anica, who lightened the tone of the story while carrying great narrative weight as a character.

The scenes which followed Brassus, a leader among the Dacians, were interesting but only scratched the surface of that people. I don’t feel I really know anything about the Dacians except that they obsess over “ascending” and “purity”, supposedly sacred concepts that are tossed around with no real explanation.

Overall, I enjoyed the story but pretty much knew what to expect from Goldsworthy’s writing and narrative.

The narration in the audiobook version (on Audible) was good, although the pronunciations have all changed. The narrator used softer s sounds in place of the Roman c, which I’m not here to quibble about. It’s just an interesting choice after the strictly Latin pronunciations in the Vindolanda stories.

Steve D

“The Grand Mythos” Chapter 4 has Arrived

Chapter four of my short fantasy series, “The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan” is now available on Wattpad.

“Gó’Dan’s Form and Aeth’Ún’s Formlessness” is a short but sweet story about one of the Vaia choosing to help another out of love.

Genre: fantasy, high fantasy, mythic fantasy

Chapter Blurb: Now that the First Four Vai’ad understand a little more about each other’s power, they must work together to survive. This short chapter describes how one Vaia’s choice to help another created a key feature of the world of Úr’Dan.

Series Blurb:

Every world has its folktales, but even folktales carry a part of the truth. Follow the first beings in the universe as they try to bring order and life to their home. Witness the creation of the vibrant world of Úr’Dan, and the fantastic creatures who live there. Based on the unique fantasy universe of the novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento.

Go to Wattpad to read it for free: https://www.wattpad.com/story/163684352-the-grand-mythos-of-%C3%BAr%27dan-volume-one

Steve D

“The Grand Mythos” Chapter 3 is Up!

Chapter three of my short fantasy series, “The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan” is now available on Wattpad.

Entitled “Hairek’s Hunger”, this chapter really starts to get into some of the early conflict between the First Four Vai’ad, as you’ll see in the chapter blurb below.

And if the concept of cosmic beings playing at god-games is a little too far-fetched for you, don’t worry. You’ll get to meet a more… earthly character in upcoming chapters.

Genre: fantasy, high fantasy, mythic fantasy

Chapter Blurb: The First Four Vai’ad are carving out their places in the Void, but are their purposes aligned? As Aeth’Ún, Gó’Dan, Hairek, and Órúma each search for meaning among the blackness of the Void, they may find that their unity is easily fractured.

Series Blurb:

Every world has its folktales, but even folktales carry a part of the truth. Follow the first beings in the universe as they try to bring order and life to their home. Witness the creation of the vibrant world of Úr’Dan, and the fantastic creatures who live there. Based on the unique fantasy universe of the novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento.

Go to Wattpad to read it for free: https://www.wattpad.com/story/163684352-the-grand-mythos-of-%C3%BAr%27dan-volume-one

Steve D

Friday Write-Day: Revisions Are Coming

This was another one of those weeks where it felt pretty busy/hectic, but I don’t really remember specifically what happened.

[Thinking…]

We had a lot of visitors and things going on around the house. That’s why it felt busy. I didn’t have much time for writing due to this, but progress is not always measured in word count

Continue reading “Friday Write-Day: Revisions Are Coming”

Creativity Sessions: Cliffhangers as a Narrative Device

I enjoy cliffhangers in novels. As someone in the marketing profession, I also understand why they are often used at the ends of novels. I’ll be just finishing up the story when the author throws a curveball, making me go Oh shit, how can you leave me hanging like that?! And then Book 2 comes out and I buy it immediately, because obviously I have to see what happens. It’s good business.

But as a narrative device? I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the end-of-book cliffhanger. Continue reading “Creativity Sessions: Cliffhangers as a Narrative Device”