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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Fall of Rome: A Novel of a World Lost by Michael Curtis Ford ...

Solid and entertaining with good battle sequences

Published by Thomas Dunne books in 2007

While not as strong as Stephen Pressfield in Gates of Fire, Michael Curtis Ford makes a strong contribution to the burgeoning collection of historical fiction books set in ancient times.

In this case, we follow Odoacer, a real-life German/Hun who variously fights against and fights for the Roman Empire in its last days. The fight sequences are strong and with the exception of a couple of slow spots early on, this book hums right along. If readers are unaware of Odoacer's true place in history they may want to delay researching him until they have finished the book in order to avoid spoilers.

A coin bearing the image of Odoacer (433-493 A.D.)
Part of Ford's style is to narrate without necessarily telling you the year or how much time has passed. From time to time he gives dates but oftentimes you have to guess how many weeks/months/years have passed. This is annoying at best and sometimes confusing for several pages.

This book is not an overall sweeping epic that covers all aspects of the fall of Rome. There is minimal discussion of corruption, except at the very highest levels. There's no discussion of cultural aspects, financial troubles and any of the other myriad issues that caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. The book focuses almost exclusively on the military aspects of the time.

One glitch lept out at me - on page 84 Ford has the Huns using "compound bows" rather than compound recurve bows. The compound bow was not invented until the 20th century. I am sure this was a mis-stroke of the keyboard, perhaps he meant a similar word such as "compact" or "composite." The only reason I mention it is to warn readers who are familiar with the true destructive power of a compound bow - the Huns would have loved them but they did not have them.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Fall of Rome: A Novel of a World Lost

Reviewed on August 20, 2007.

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