Friday, November 13, 2009

Hadrian's Wall

Book Review : Hadrian's Wall
Author : William Dietrich
My Rating : 2 out of 5

Hadrian's Wall is a historical fiction set in Britannia in the declining years of the Roman Empire. As the title suggests, most of the events happen around the Wall, which was constructed by Emperor Hadrian, to separate the Celtic barbarians in the north from the Roman Civilization. The plot involves Valeria, a Senator's daughter - who travels to the Wall to marry the newly installed Praefectus Marcus. This is a marriage of convenience - the Senator was paid money (useful to save his career) and Marcus got the bride and the command. The previous chief, Tribune Galba is understandably not happy at this, and is a prime suspect in the events that follow. These events are told to us by the investigator sent by Rome, who is also trying to guess what must have happened.

This could have been a great setting for a novel of intrigue, political maneuvers and suspense against the historical backdrop. The author does well to establish the context. The description of the lifestyles, villages, religious beliefs is good enough considering that this is not a history textbook. The ideas people have about the "other" side are expressed really well - how the Romans view the barbarians and vice versa, same for Christians v/s pagans.

The author definitely has a passion for historical details and has done his research. In the end there is a little bit of payoff in the form of some tragedy, good battle scenes and a little bit of suspense. But this cannot overcome the big shortcoming that spans most of the book - the love story between Valeria and Arden the Celtic Barbarian.

This whole idea of love story between a high born lady and a rogue enemy warrior is as old as hills. The presentation makes it worse. It's hardly different than a teen-age Hollywood romance. He teases her, she hates his confidence, then falls in love in due time. And yes, she saves life of someone in his clan, and gets accepted as one of them. As you can guess, this gets very boring. I was skipping pages at times. I felt deceived by the cover, title and description.

This was a wasted opportunity, and hence I do not recommend this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...