Monday 11 April 2022

Bloody Dominions by Nick Macklin


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Fictional Drama / Military
58-56 BCE
The Conquest Trilogy #1

"58-56 BCE. As Caesar’s campaign unfolds, 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 Allerix’s 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."

From the beginning, the authenticity and immediacy of the slog, skill and training of the characters stood out. The author has woven good period detail into a compelling story of three strong characters who at times find themselves on the same side and opposing sides, victors and defeated, yet uphold their values of honour, duty and comradeship. 

Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul were hard, determined and almost industrial; he was out to make an impact on his world. But the author shows that for those on the front line, scouting deep into enemy territory or caught in an advance outpost, the life was unrelentingly one of blood, guts and injury, only relieved as in most military forces by friendship and gallows humour. 

The author depicts the tribes in Gaul with understanding, demonstrating their superior cavalry skills, courage and strategic approach. But the tribes suffered from a lack of the ability to form a disciplined alliance – a frustration for Allerix and his father. Legions and Gauls are both fighting for survival and the author is extremely good at bringing this visceral struggle to the page in plentiful detail.

Along with action, conflict and battles, the author gives us deft and succinct family and home backgrounds of the three main characters, Atticus, Epona and Allerix, making them sympathetic and vibrant whilst still evoking the brutality of the age. A bonus was a strong female lead in Epona with a perfectly plausible reason for her to be a warrior. The tribes did not suffer from the Roman unwillingness to consider women warriors! 

Friendships and respect across such well-defined battle lines and set of values and objectives are sometimes awkwardly portrayed in historical and action fiction, but Nick Macklin accomplishes this almost effortlessly, depicting the conflict of these relationships very neatly.

Although this is the first part of a trilogy, the story concluded well, opening the reader to the next in series, but not leaving an irritating cliffhanger. Bravo, Mr Macklin!

Bloody Dominions holds its own very well with the novels from the established canon of Roman fiction writers. The writing itself and narrative are of a very high standard; it did not in any way convey the feeling of a debut novel. This was a very satisfactory read. I’m looking forward the next one!

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Alison Morton
 e-version reviewed

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