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The Scourge of Godby William Dietrich
Synopses & Reviews
After decades of assault by barbarian tribes, Rome is weakening and in danger of being overrun. By a.d. 449, Attila, ruler of the Huns, has become Europe's most powerful monarch, his ferocity earning him the title the Scourge of God. Now he is poised to assault the West.
It begins with an illicit affair. Honoria, sister of Valentinian III, emperor of the Western Roman Empire, creates a scandal when she is discovered in bed with her steward. Imprisoned for her indiscretion, Honoria sees the instrument of her deliverance in the form of the most feared warrior in the known world — Attila. Desperate, she dispatches a messenger to the leader of the Huns, asking for his aid. Taking the entreaty as a marriage proposal, Attila begins to mass his forces to claim the half of the Roman Empire he feels should be his dowry, thus setting in motion the engines of war.
Fearing that open war with the ferocious Huns could destroy the empire, the Romans seek a clandestine solution. Dispatching a group of ambassadors to Attila's camp under the guise of seeking a diplomatic accord, the Roman leadership intends instead to corrupt one of Attila's lieutenants into an assassin, eliminating the threat by murdering the Hun leader.
Jonas, an ambitious intellectual, joins the party as its historian. But when the plot is discovered, he becomes much more. Taken hostage by the Huns, Jonas realizes that it will require all his skills in diplomacy, and some newfound skills with the sword, to survive. But survival isn't his only concern. Within the Hun camp he encounters Ilana, a Roman beauty imprisoned by the Huns and promised to one of their warriors. To attempt an escape alone would be foolhardy. Tocombine it with a rescue would be suicide. But Jonas knows he cannot leave the camp without Ilana, even if his devotion costs him his life.
As Jonas plans his escape, he seizes what could be a crucial element in the coming war between Rome and the Huns. Now his life isn't the only thing at stake. To save the empire and Ilana, Jonas must bring warning and an ancient sword to prepare Rome for the biggest battle in history, in which two vast armies will clash to determine the future of Western civilization.
"The Scourge of God does well with both fact and fancy. It's a romance in the original meaning of the term: lots of adventure, swashbuckling, maidens in distress, magic swords and so on." Washington Post
"Dietrich has written a wonderful book....Excellent and highly recommended." Library Journal
For fans of the movie Gladiator comes this bloody account of the clashing of civilizations, as Attila the Hun, "The Scourge of God," struggles to overthrow the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire is weakening. In 367 AD, approximately eight years after the great battle at Hadrian's Wall, Roman garrisons begin to hear rumors of barbarian tribes massing to the north. By 449 AD, Attila, the ruler of the Huns, has become the continent's most powerful monarch, his reputation in battle earning him the title "The Scourge of God."
Anticipating an imminent attack by the Huns, Roman leaders negotiate with one of Attila's lieutenants, convincing him to play the part of assassin. He is joined on his mission by a Roman citizen, Jonas, an ambassador dispatched to negotiate a peace treaty with the Huns. When the plot is discovered, Jonas becomes a hostage, forced to fight for his captors if he wishes to remain alive. But he soon learns that Attila intends to conquer Rome itself, and is caught between two mighty empires, both poised for one of the greatest conflicts the world has ever seen. Jonas, knowing his life could be forfeit, has the potential to tip the battle in either direction — and his decision will alter the face of Western civilization.
For readers of historically nuanced thrillers and adventure stories by authors like Bernard Cornwell and Colleen McCullough.
For readers interested in Roman and Barbarian culture and warfare.
About the Author
William Dietrich is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, historian, and naturalist, and the author of eleven novels, including the Ethan Gage adventures. He is a winner of the PNBA Award for nonfiction and lives in Washington State.
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