Dark Ages was the term I grew up with. Late Roman Britain is probably the current politically correct term, but you know what I am talking about. That time in history when the Roman empire was falling apart – two, three and even four emperors all claiming the throne, and the provinces were held by any warlord powerful enough to keep the peace. In Britain, this involved various tribal leaders either working with, or fighting against the small Roman force that is meant to hold the island.
Enter Flavius Magnus Maximus, a Roman from Spain and one of the highest ranked officers in Britannia. He encounters Caradoc, tribal king living in Tintagel. Yes, that’s right, Tintagel of Arthurian legend. These two form a firm friendship that eventually leads to Maximus being crowned High King of the Britons. The idea is that Maximus will stay in Britannia with his beautiful new wife and use his military skills to keep the Saxons out. That’s the idea, but any Roman who gains an army suddenly turns his eyes to Rome, and soon Maximus declares himself emperor and heads south. And you can guess how successful that idea was. Ever heard of Emperor Flavius Maximus?
The beauty of this book is the historical picture of life at this time. Although many of the characters in the story were real people, records are sketchy enough so that Hume has scope enough to be creative. And as a retired academic, she knows about research, so the attention to detail helps the whole story feel real.
Published last year, this is now an old title, but book two in the series was recently published, so some readers may be looking at starting at the beginning. I know that I much prefer to read the whole series whenever possible in order to place the latest book in some sort of context. The publisher’s website says this title is out of stock, but ebook versions should be easily available and many libraries will stock copies.