Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: The Soldier of Raetia by Heather Domin

Title: The Soldier of Raetia
Author: Heather Domin
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Lulu
Publish Date: July 23, 2009
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're  Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You love great historical detail.
What's the Story?:

From "Rome, 10BC. Manilus Dardanus, a new soldier from the provinces, applies for sponsorship with the respected general Cassius Valerian. Dardanus has a lot to learn about the life he has chosen, and at first the brusque and reticent Valerian seems the least willing candidate to teach him. But a bond forms between this unlikely pair that neither could have imagined; and as the legion moves out to the northern frontier, battles and betrayals will prove just how profoundly Dardanus and Valerian have changed each other's lives — and hearts — forever."

My Two Cents:

You all know that I love historical fiction and I read a ton of it. I was very excited about this book as I've read very little historical fiction about Rome even with all of the HF that I read. I was most definitely not disappointed. This is a well researched story about the everyday lives of Roman soldiers. I'd like to point out that I really, really enjoyed the historical note at the end of the book that discussed what the author made up and what research went into the book. I think that in historical fiction books, it's definitely interesting to see what the sources the author looked at while writing the book. I think that it really helps put things into context.

I really liked how vivid the writing was. You really feel like you're witnessing the things that the characters are doing. There is most definitely a good sense of setting, which I felt really helped to pull me into the book. Also, I'm not huge on war books and technically this book covers a war; however, the story itself really covers more of the human story behind the soldiers. The focus is really more on the inside scoop on the things that went on when the soldiers were not fighting. It was a unique perspective and really allowed you to get to know the characters more than you do in a "normal" war story.

I really like the characters in the book. You have a very powerful general, someone who would know of the high life of the highest class of Romans. Then you have the soldiers that come from a variety of backgrounds. I liked that you sort of got a taste of some of the different Roman classes, a very important feature of Roman society.

One thing I will mention is that there is a homosexual relationship between two of the male characters in the book. This should not bother you. Why, you might ask? Homosexual relationships were a completely normal part of Roman life. As the author explains at the end of the book, the Romans thought that the male body was the most beautiful form in the world and thus, if you were a man and you took a male lover, not another thought would be given.

Bottom line: This is a great historical fiction read!



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