I am always up for a good alternate history novel. I think it was Harry Turtledove’s Agent of Byzantium that really got me into the genre. John Maddox Roberts had a great alternative history with the unfinished Hannibal’s Children series where Hannibal defeated the Roman and exiled them to the north.
We have a new entry: Arminius, Bane of Eagles by Adrian Cole from DMR Books. Adrian Cole has been a work horse in the small press the past few years. I have mentioned his fiction in the pages of Cirsova and Tales From the Magician’s Skull. He goes back to the 1970s with the Dream Lords books from Zebra and a story in that greatest of original fiction sword & sorcery anthologies, Heroic Fantasy.
Arminius, Bane of Eagles is the first of the War on Rome series. The book opens with a scene with the Druids on the island of Mona in 15 B.C. A prophecy is made of war with Rome.
The next scene is in Germania 8 B.C., two German leaders of the Cherusci tribe discuss whether to submit to Rome or not. Sigimund, the son of Sigimer is introduced and an oath to his father to resist Rome. Sigimund is sent to Rome as a hostage and to learn the military arts as is his younger brother Sigfrud later on. Sigimund is known to the Romans as Arminius. He serves in the legions in the Pannonian revolt and then sent to Germania to serve under Varus. The point of deviation from our timeline is the Emperor Octavian Augustus’s grandson, Claudius, meets an accidental and suspicious death.
Sigimund/Arminius steadily conspires to wipe out a Roman Army. The Battle of Teutoburger Wald takes place as it does in our timeline, destroying three Roman legions. Another departure is the Emperor Tiberius dies earlier and his nephew Germanicus succeeds him. Germanicus has been dealt some bloody noses by Arminius in punitive expeditions across the Rhine and wants revenge.
There is a conspiracy to kill Arminius. Thought dead, he makes his way to Britain and then to the Druid isle of Mona. This is where the novel ends.
This novel is a real page turner. I normally think of Adrian Cole’s writing style and type of fiction as a sort of mix of H. P. Lovecraft and J. R. R. Tolkien. The prose is harder edged here. There is a slight supernatural element. The actions scenes are riveting, both small fights and big battles. I had reviewed an historical The Lost Eagles back in April which is about recovering the lost Roman legion eagles from Teutoburger Wald. Arminius, Bane of Eagles dovetails with that novel. I await the next volume. You can order Arminius, Bane of Eagles now.