Review: ‘Bear and the Wolf’ by Ruth Downie, S J A Turney

Bear and the Wolf by [Downie, Ruth, Turney, S.J.A.]This is a shortish novella, currently only available as an e-book. It is set in AD210 at Vindolanda, the military base which guarded Hadrian’s Wall when the Romans occupied Britain. The two authors know their Roman history inside and out – and there is a short, useful Note at the end showing how the known history of the time supports the ‘what ifs’ of the story.

Senna is a Briton. Her man, Brigius, is too, from a different tribe. He is also a Roman soldier. Senna lives with him at the fort, with their child.

Life has changed a lot since the Romans arrived (AD 43): the invaders brought civilisation with them – wine and bathing, to name but two previously scarce luxuries. What pays for the luxuries is trade, which everybody loves (how very topical …). Although the Romans are not trusted, there is an uneasy peace between the invaders and the British tribes. But, of course, it takes almost nothing to set Romans and Britons against each other once again. The trick will be to live through what follows, and regain that Pax Romanus on the other side under which trade can flourish once again.

The deft characterisations in this little story really bring the protagonists to life. The historical information is accurate and delivered with a light and expert touch.

The story looks at how Britons and Romans get along, but also how Britons might (and occasionally did) defy Rome, if need arose. It is wise about how a status quo is quickly established and may be fiercely protected.

Despite its brevity it is one of the pieces of fiction I have enjoyed most this year. If you enjoy reading Roman historical fiction I think you will love this.

It is cracking value at 99 pence!

 

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed.

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