Save Your Money
||The is by far the most historically INaccurate portrayal of Roman life I have encountered.
From June of 68 through July of 69, five men wore the imperial purple of a Roman Emperor! None of whom were named "Valarian." But it was obviously a year of complexity and civil strife in Rome and throughout the Empire. Obviously that would make a great tale and I went into DG Bellenger's work hoping that that would be the case with this small, independently released work.
How wrong I was.
The novel opens with the suicide of Nero and the subsequent rise of Galba to the throne in Rome. However, the only thing the author gets right about Galba's rise to the leadership of Rome is his refusal to pay the Praetorian Guard their promised donative afterwards. With that, the historical accuracy in this novel stops. Nothing of Otho's true actions are brought up, such as Otho's journey to Rome at the same time as Galba. Otho is always there as far as the author is concerned, secretly leading a rebellion against Galba and then his "son" named "Valarian". And then all of a sudden, no, he's in Egypt instrumenting the rebellion, not Rome afterall. Silly me. No wait! It was Rome.
Galba is then murdered in the forum. Right afterwards, Galba's "son" named "Valarian" is made emperor by the soldiers and senators who are left after just two people, Valarian and Lucius, an army general, wipe out almost two hundred soldiers and senators single-handedly. Having an emperor Valarian 185 years before he actually led Rome was also an interesting departure from the real history.
I forced myself to finish the book, having spent twenty dollars for it and wanting to get my money's worth. Bellinger's use of dialogue throughout the novel is downright ridiculous and unbelievable in light of the events in the novel while the dialogue is taking place.
For instance, Lucius is wounded in an attempt at Emperor Valarian's life and carries on a several minute conversation with the would-be assassin, rather than tackling her and either killing her, or wrestling her away from the scene. The dialogue is childish and characterization throughout the book is very shallow because of it.
It becomes obvious that the author made up her story as she went along. There is a good amount of action throughout, but there is no transition between events and we learn later on about characters in depth that already showed up several chapters before.
For example, we learn a lot about "Datrium" the second time he appears rather than the first time, and the author almost basically says "and oh yeah, he was that one guy in the amphitheater who asked Lucius that one preplanned question way back when."
In addition to all of this, the book's editor and obviously the author do not know about a possessive apostrophe and when to use one and when not to. The cover art is also wrong! The book's title is 68 AD and there's the Coliseum! I guess if the Emperor Valarian can exist 185 years early, the Coliseum can exist a couple years early!