On the Frontier of the Empire

  By Rider, 26 July 2007; Revised
Contents »

’On the Frontier of the Empire’ by Thomas Valens is an excellent book. Not only do we see the everyday life of the leginaries guarding the limes in Germania but also there is love and assaults upon the Frontier, not to mention traitors and lost treasures.


The Book

The book begins with a quick introduction by the main character whose adventures we shall follow during the book – Gaius Terentius, first a mere legionary who became a prefect of a castel.

The book (as is appropriate following a Roman) considers the Romans as high and invincible and the Barbarians clever but unexpectable. The action takes place in the castle of Chimaerea. The castle suffers several smaller attacks by the Germans, all leading up to one major assault. But first of all, Gaius finds out about a beautiful girl living in the village around the castle, Honoria. Of course, Honoria is not available but Gaius has to fight for her (with the biggest bad guy in the castle). Then, during a guard on the limes, Gaius finds out that there is a traitor amongst his companions. He fools the traitor and follows him into the forests. There he sees a large camp of the Germans, ready for an attack.

He tells of this to a few people he trusts but remains quiet about a treasure the Germans are really after. Then the assault upon the castle quickly follows (efficient due to the traitor opening the gates). The German King Volkmar leaves his men fighting the castle and rides to a mansion where the finalé takes place at. There, Gaius Terentius fights the bullies that tried to take Honoria, saves himself and her and assaults the German party when a group of Roman horsemen comes to help. The tide of the battle near the castle quickly turns due to the dead King Volkmar.  

As one of the last words of the book, the Roman confidence is shown once more: ’... In a thousand years, when the Roman Empire is even greater than now...’ But we all know that it was not to be so...

Overall, this book is a fine read although the places and people are fictional.