bookrev: Hadrian’s Wall by William Dietrich

4 stars: Historical fiction mixed with romance and historical speculation

Hadrian’s Wall by William Dietrich mixes the culture of a declining Roman empire with the “barbaric” non-Romans of early Britain (Celts, Scottis, etc.) in a love triangle (quadrangle) story. As with his other works of historical fiction, Mr. Dietrich researchs the geographical areas and history of where/what he is writing about, and combines fictional characters with historical.

Valeria, a Roman senator’s daughter, is sent to marry Marcus Flavius, who is named Tribune at Hadrian’s Wall (built by Roman Emperor Hadrian to keep the barbarians out of the Roman part of Britain) because of this arranged marriage to Valeria. Marcus is replacing Galba Brassidias, a career Roman soldier who has spent his life at the wall and resents being replaced for political reasons by someone with less experience. Valeria is almost kidnapped before her marriage by Arden Caratacus, a Celt and former Roman who lives beyond the Wall in the wild north. He eventually does capture her (with Galba’s hidden assistance) and takes her back with him to live.

Although I did enjoy this novel, it did not possess as much history, locale and cultuer as Bill’s other historical fiction novels, Napolean’s Pyramids and The Scourge of God. Hadrian’s Wall was more about the story of Valeria and her romances than about the times and surroundings, which were more balanced in the other two novels.

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