The Conquest Trilogy #1
Journey with those at the heart of the conflict as Caesar embarks on the tumultu-ous 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 barri-ers of fate that have defined them as enemies. In a twist of fate, Atticus and Al-lerix discover that they share a bond, a secret that nobody could ever foresee…
Before Baculus and Aquila could conclude their conversation, the flap of the tent suddenly burst open. Out of the corner of his eye, Atticus could see a tall figure marching towards them. Aquila’s startled expression and flustered demeanour was in marked contrast to the beaming smile that Atticus saw fleetingly flash across Baculus’ face. The visitor strode up to the table and nodded towards Aquila.
If not immaculately turned out, the blood-stained armour that sat atop his legate’s uniform still clearly displaying the signs of the fighting with which he had evidently been engaged, he was still an imposing individual with the presence of one used to carrying authority. Aquila rose to greet his new arrival, though not at all warmly.
“Gaius. I was not expecting the pleasure of a visit from one of my fellow officers today.”
The visitor shrugged.
“Julius intended to visit yesterday but as you know, some of us were unfortunately engaged elsewhere.”
The barely disguised sleight was not lost on Atticus, nor it seemed on Aquila. Before he could reply, however, the visitor turned and addressed Atticus and Plautius directly.
“Forgive me, gentlemen, I am Gaius Trebonius, Legate and commander of the VIIIth Legion. I assume, Lucius, that this is the individual to whom we owe a debt of thanks for his exploits yesterday?”
Aquila looked flustered.
“Yes, this is Legionary Capito and his centurion Plautius.”
“Then it seems I have arrived just in time to add my thanks and those of the legions engaged yesterday to your own. That is, I assume, the purpose of this gathering?”
“W…w…why, of course,” stammered Aquila. “I was just, erm… telling Capito how… grateful I was for the manner in which he had executed my plan.”
If the wind had been taken out of his sails by Trebonius’ arrival, Aquila had recovered quickly. He really was every bit the politician Baculus had described.
“Excellent. You know how much Julius admires initiative, especially when it’s exercised by those in the ranks.”
“Indeed, Gaius, although in this case the initiative was mine.”
“Of course, of course,” replied Trebonius a little dismissively, “though you know that is the least expected of us, Lucius. Even if it is displayed a little later than those of us engaged in the fighting might have wished.”
It was Aquila’s turn to bristle.
“What are you suggesting, Trebonius?”
The switch to the formal term of address suggested Aquila was rather more rattled than he was letting on, thought Atticus, who was by now beginning to relax a little and enjoy the discomfort that Aquila was evidently experiencing. The same discomfort that just minutes before he and Plautius had been experiencing.
“Lucius, Lucius, I meant no offence,” Trebonius replied calmly. “We have all seen failures of command and all experienced the types of delay that can occur in the communication of orders. You may rest assured that Julius is entirely clear which it was on this occasion.”
Leaving that thought hanging and ignoring the look of anger on Aquila’s face, Trebonius turned back to Plautius and Atticus.
“So how has Legate Aquila decided to reward you?”
From over Trebonius’ shoulder, Baculus responded.
“The legate had not yet decided his approach, sir.”
“Ah, Baculus, I had quite forgotten that you were there. It is good to see you again.”
Baculus nodded a greeting in return, with what Atticus thought looked suspiciously like a look of satisfaction on his face, though he was quick to hide that as Aquila turned to face him.
“My first spear is correct, Gaius, and I am in no rush to conclude matters. I think my deliberations will wait until tomorrow.”
“Nonsense,” said Trebonius firmly. “My guess is that Julius will want us all on the march tomorrow if we are going to hunt down what’s left of the rabble we saw off yesterday. Besides, you know him, always happy to take an opportunity to boost morale.” Aquila, now clearly quite angry at the unexpected turn of events, had moved around his desk in an attempt to reassert control.
“Well, that’s as maybe, but this is my legion, not yours, and you would do well to remember that.”
Trebonius took a step forward, closing the gap between himself and Aquila in a deliberate move to emphasise his superior stature.
“And you would do well to remember whose army it is.”
Atticus wondered if the two senior officers had quite forgotten that the three soldiers were still there.
“You speak for Caesar now,” enquired Aquila with an air of cynicism.
“No, my friend, but I believe I know what he would expect.”
From outside the tent, a sudden flurry of activity and shouted commands accompanied the arrival of a number of horsemen.
“But no need to speculate. You can ask him yourself. I believe that might have been him and his escort just arriving.”
A look of horror flashed across Aquila’s face and he hurriedly fussed with his uniform before scurrying out to present himself to his visitor. Trebonius smiled and gestured Plautius forward.
“Centurion, I suggest that you go and round up as many of your men as you can and have them report here immediately in parade order.”
“Yes, sir,” Plautius replied, saluting swiftly.
“Oh, and, Centurion, have them try and look their best. It’s not every day they will get to parade before their general.”
Thinking about just how rough he had looked after the night before, Atticus could only imagine how difficult it was going to be getting the century into the kind of shape that Plautius would want. He knew he would, though, doubtless with a little help from his vine cane and the persuasive assistance of Rescius. Atticus watched as Trebonius and Baculus clasped forearms in greeting.
“Thank you, sir. You know that I will always do my duty come what may, but that man is not easy to serve.”
“I can imagine, and this episode won’t improve his demeanour any, I’m sure. He’s wise enough to know that he’ll need your counsel as first spear. It’s not an accident he was assigned to your legion, but be careful.”
“It’s Capito who is going to have to be careful, I suspect.”
“Ah, yes, Legionary Capito,” said Trebonius, placing an arm around Atticus’ shoulder. “It may be best you keep something of a low profile after this, but first, are you ready to meet your general?”
Thank you, Nick Macklin and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
A history graduate, Nick enjoyed developing the skills that would stand him in good stead during the extensive research he conducted prior to writing his novel. Whilst the ancient world unfortunately didn’t feature to any extent in his history degree, (the result of failing miserably to secure the A level grades that would have permitted greater choice) he maintained a lifelong and profound in-terest in ancient history and especially the Roman Empire, continuing to read avidly as he embarked on a career in HR. Over the next 30 years or so Nick oc-cupied a variety of Senior/Director roles, most recently in the NHS. Unsurpris-ingly, writing in these roles was largely confined to the prosaic demands of
Board papers but Nick never lost the long-harboured belief, motivated by the works of writers such as Robert Fabbri, Robyn Young, Anthony Riches, Simon Scarrow, Matthew Harffy and Giles Kristian, that he too had a story to tell. When he was presented with a window of opportunity c3 years ago he took the decision to place his career on hold and see if he could convert that belief into reality.
Nick always knew that he wanted to set the novel against the backdrop of a sig-nificant event/period in Roman history. Looking to narrow that down to some-thing offering the potential for meaningful character and plot development, but that hadn’t already received exhaustive coverage, he settled on Caesars tumultu-ous occupation of Gaul. Spanning 8 years, the prolonged clash of cultures of-fered 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 references 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 promi-nent member of the warrior clan of her tribe. The novel is driven by these char-acters but the framework against which their stories unfold is historically accu-rate, 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 Tril-ogy, Battle Scars.
Universal link: https://books2read.com/u/mdDq9l