(The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1)
By Nick Macklin
Publication Date: 28th June 2021. Publisher: Troubador Publishing. Page Length: 368 Pages. Genre: Historical Fiction.
Journey with those at the heart of the conflict as Caesar embarks on the tumul-tuous conquest of Gaul 58-51 BC. Book One 58-56 BC.
As Caesar’s campaign begins, tests of courage and belief will confront the three protagonists, shaping them as individuals and challenging their views of the world and each other:
Atticus – an impetuous but naturally gifted soldier, whose grandfather served with distinction in the legions;
Allerix – a Chieftain of the Aduatuci, who finds himself fighting both for and against Caesar; and
Epona – a fierce warrior and Allerixs’ adopted sister.
Experiencing the brutalities of conflict and the repercussions of both victory and defeat, Atticus, Allerix and Epona will cross paths repeatedly, their destinies bound together across time, the vast and hostile territories of Gaul and the barriers of fate that have defined them as enemies. In a twist of fate, Atticus and Allerix discover that they share a bond, a secret that nobody could ever foresee…
Violence and attempted rape.
Allerix pulled his cloak a little tighter about his shoulders. It was just after dawn and the slowly rising sun brought the promise of another fine day. It was not yet accompanied by any warmth, however, and a chill mist blanketed the plain. It lent an eerie feel to proceedings as a steady stream of soldiers emerged from the gloom and marched purposefully towards Ariovistus’ camp. It was an impressive sight. He had come to admire the results of Roman discipline and training. They were tough and resilient. Few forces could have withstood the attacks of yesterday. Fewer still would retain the confidence, arrogance perhaps, to launch their own assault today. It made them good allies but dangerous enemies, as the Germans had discovered. But other than the small group of soldiers he had come to know, he hadn’t warmed to them as a people. He didn’t trust their leaders to do what was right or honourable and he was concerned that their plans might yet bring them into conflict with his own people. It was not a thought to warm a man on a morning such as this, and he took a deep breath to clear his head.
Best get this over with.
Shaking Isarno’s reins to nudge him forward, he trotted towards the small group of horsemen who would be leading the cavalry. Silhouetted against the sun, he had to shield his eyes as he tried to pick out those present. He recognised Aquila, who looked slightly more martial in the saddle than he did on foot… though that was not difficult. The other officer was presumably Crassus, who by contrast looked every inch the young warrior. They were supported by several decurions, from what little cavalry forces the Romans possessed. Roucillus and Egus were there and the group was completed by a couple of nobles that he recognised as Aedui but whom he didn’t know. He slowly eased Isarno into the gathering and exchanged greetings. There was a palpable air of tension that presumably owed its origins to a distinct frostiness in the relationship between the two Roman officers. Although courteous, they did little to hide their antipathy for each other. Aquila’s face was a picture as Crassus gestured to the troops forming up on the plain and began the briefing.
“Gentlemen, as you can see, our forces are to be drawn up before the enemy camp. It is Caesar’s intention that we advance until the Germans are forced to respond and battle is joined. The bulk of our cavalry, together with that of the Allobroges, will support the infantry attack. I have been asked to lead this force. The remaining cavalry, which is to be led by Lucius, will remain here in reserve.”
Aquila was clearly unhappy playing a subordinate role and Allerix watched him struggling to control his discomfort as Crassus continued.
“Caesar hopes that we will have no need to call on the support of Lucius’ forces. Should we need to do so, the presence of you and your men is welcome, Allerix. I have heard only good things about the bravery and skill of the Aduatuci. You at least have nothing to prove.”
Allerix was sure Crassus hadn’t missed the barely disguised look of hostility on Aquila’s face, but the young Roman carried on regardless.
“If all goes according to plan and the enemy forces are broken, Lucius is to ensure that no warriors are allowed to escape the field.” Crassus paused to take stock of the preparations below. “Now, the hour of our attack draws near. If you will excuse me, I will take up my position before the opportunity to do so is lost.”
Roucillus, Egus and one of the two decurions peeled away and headed back across the plain, taking their lead from Crassus, Aquila was clearly not sorry to see them go.
“Now that my young and naïve associate has left, let me be clear about our orders, for Crassus has applied a somewhat… noble veneer to Caesar’s expectations. If the enemy breaks, and they will, we are to pursue and kill all those who flee, not just the warriors. I trust that I can rely upon you to ensure that these orders are appropriately relayed to your men.”
Blinded by their hatred for Ariovistus, there was barely a moment’s hesitation before the Aedui were enthusiastically confirming their understanding. Their positivity made Allerix blanche. He felt Aquila’s gaze upon him.
“And you, Gaul? You are clear what is expected?”
“You leave little room for doubt, Roman,” Allerix replied, irritated by Aquila’s pompous manner.
“Good. Then we have an understanding. Let us hope that we are not denied our opportunity for sport.”
With a smile, Aquila gestured for the two Aeduean nobles to rejoin their men.
Allerix watched them leave.
“I said that I was clear what you required, not that I would comply. Caesar cannot intend for innocent women and children to be killed.”
“There is no such thing as an innocent German, Gaul. Any that we allow to live today will simply return to fight in the future or breed those who will. Caesar intends to rid our lands of this scourge once and for all.”
“The lands of our allies. It is the same thing.”
“As long as those allies serve the interests of Rome…”
“What?” sneered Aquila.
“It did not serve Rome to offer assistance to the Aedui when Ariovistus first arrived but now it does. It did not suit Rome to challenge Ariovistus. In fact, he was made a friend of Rome, only for he and his kin to be hunted now like dogs. I wonder whether it is more dangerous to be an enemy or a friend of Rome.”
“You would do well to follow orders, Gaul, and have no cause to find out!”
“I do not take orders from you,” snapped Allerix, his hands balling tightly around Isarno’s reins.
Clearly unused to having to explain himself, Aquila’s flushed face and raised voice betrayed his own rising anger.
“I speak on behalf of Caesar and you will do as your general instructs.”
“Unlike you, Roman, I do not blindly serve Caesar. I came at the request of my father, to ride in support of your general. To help him defeat Ariovistus and his warriors. I will honour that commitment, but my men will take no part in the killing of women or children.”
Aquila pulled angrily on the reins of his horse as he began to wheel away.
“Then you had best stay out of the way of those with the stomach to do what is required!”
Allerix turned Isarno and headed back towards his men. Staying out of Aquila’s way was one order with which he would be very happy to comply.
You can pick up your copy of this novel at the following locations: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, WHSmith
Nick always knew that he wanted to set the novel against the backdrop of a significant event/period in Roman history. Looking to narrow that down to something offering the potential for meaningful character and plot develop-ment, but that hadn’t already received exhaustive coverage, he settled on Cae-sars tumultuous occupation of Gaul. Spanning 8 years, the prolonged clash of cultures offered ample opportunity for the kind of dual perspective from which he was hoping to tell the story, whilst the violent conflict provided a wealth of exciting material to explore the changing fortunes of war and its impact at a personal level. The switching of allegiances, nations fighting for and against Rome also provided the potential for some intriguing plot lines. As his research unfolded, he was also struck by just how heavily the Roman psyche during this period was influenced by the scare they had received 50 years earlier when Germanic tribes invaded their territories and defeated their legions. Seeing ref-erences to the veterans of that war watching their sons and grandsons enlist for a similar campaign, he started to think about developing that link on both sides of the conflict. And so, the idea for the Conquest Trilogy was born.
In Bloody Dominions Nick has sought to produce a novel in which unfolding events are experienced and described from the perspective of protagonists on both sides of Caesar’s incursion into Gaul. Conscious that the role of women in Roman fiction, Boudica aside, is largely confined to spouse, prostitute or slave, Nick wanted to ensure that one of his lead characters was female and a prominent member of the warrior clan of her tribe. The novel is driven by these characters but the framework against which their stories unfold is histori-cally accurate, featuring actual participants in Caesar’s campaign and drawing on real events as they occurred. As such Nick is genuinely excited about his characters and the story they have to tell.
Nick lives in Exeter with his two daughters and is currently juggling work as an Independent HR Consultant with writing the second novel in the Conquest Trilogy, Battle Scars.
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