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The Last Legion –

The Last Legion

Sunday , 5, November 2023 Leave a comment

Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s The Last Legion is a stand alone novel from 2002. This is a 425 page novel set in the late 5th Century A.D. The novel starts in late 476 in Italy. Warlord Odoacer makes his move to remove the last Roman emperor, the young Romulus Augustulus.

Standing in the way is the Nova Invicta Legion. This is a unit made up of Romans, not barbarians, trained and outfitted like an old Roman legion. The Nova Invicta fights against Odoacer’s Germanic barbarians allowing legionary Aurelianus to warn the emperor.

Aurelianus arrives too late. Odoacer’s men have killed Orestes, Roman general and father of the emperor. The barbarians have taken the little emperor prisoner. The story unfolds with Aurelianus, teaming up with the girl Livia rescuing some comrades of the Nova Invictus. They mount a rescue operation of Romulus Augustulus and his tutor, Ambrosinus.

Odoacer sends his henchman, Wulfila to capture or kill Romulus. The story is a pursuit with Aurelianus’ little band traveling to Britain, where Ambrosinus is from.

Manfredi of course, knows Italy. The story is good in Italy and Gaul. The story is less sure when it gets to Britain, Vortigern is a tyrant in northern Britain with an army of Germanic barbarians. Wulfila becomes his right hand man. There is a climactic battle. Romulus Augustulus and Ambrosinus are remembered in legend as two other characters.

I would have to go back to Morris’ Age of Arthur regarding Vortigern. From what I remember, he was not so much a tyrant but had bad judgement to hire the Jutes, Horsa and Hengest.

My historical (or legendary) quibbles aside, Manfredi tells a thrilling adventure. The book was made into a movie. I once caught the last half hour of it on T.V. Years ago.


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