A novel set in Roman Britain at the very end of the first century AD
Vindolanda is the first adventure for Titus Flavius Ferox, centurion of Legio II Augusta and a man torn between two worlds. His grandfather was one of the great chiefs and war leaders of the Silures, the tribe living in what is now South Wales. For over twenty years he fought the Romans, but in the end he and the rest of his people were beaten down and became subjects of the empire. The young Ferox was sent away as a hostage, to be educated and raised as a Roman, and was made a citizen and later commissioned into the Roman army. Years later he returns to the province of Britannia, oathsworn to the emperor of Rome, but still in his heart a warrior of his own people.
Detached from his legion, Ferox is a centurio regionarius, an officer placed in command of a district, in this case in the far north of Britannia near the garrison of Vindolanda. Viewed as a barbarian Briton by many of his superiors, and as a Roman by the locals, he is part soldier and part policeman, tasked with keeping the peace. At his side is Vindex, the head of the native scouts and a minor son of a chieftain of the Brigantes, the great tribal confederation in northern Britain. Between them they must do their best to stop the locals raiding and killing each other, and stop Roman officials from abusing their power and driving people to rebellion.
The first novel begins in AD 98, at the start of the reign of the Emperor Trajan, adopted son of the short-lived Nerva. Fear of civil war is in the air as Trajan does not hurry to Rome to be acclaimed by the Senate, but waits with the armies on the Rhineland, looking to see if open challenge will come from other senators. In Britannia the garrison is run down and the army and empire appear to be in retreat. Men claiming to be druids and holy men are abroad, preaching hatred and war against an empire they claim is dying. At the same time there are rumours of traitors inside the Roman army, and the peace that has always been fragile now looks ready to crumble into dust. Unsure who can be trusted, and confronted by fanatics given to torture and human sacrifice, Ferox must do his best to stop the north - and perhaps all of Britannia - from plunging into chaos and slaughter.
See the Head of Zeus website - http://headofzeus.com/book/vindolanda
Check back next month and in the months to come for more on the background to the stories.
Coming in February, more on the ideas behind the series and how I set about writing Vindolanda.