From the cover:
AD9. The Roman Empire is at the height of its power. Imperial rule is enforced by the most brutal soldiers in the world.
But in Northern Europe, twelve legionnaires have been massacred. A bloodied individual is found alive among the dead.
He has no idea who he is, or where he’s been. Only that he is alive.
Forced to join Governor Varus’ army – fifteen thousand seasoned legionnaires – he heads north to subdue the hostile German tribes. The army marches deep into enemy territory, a densely forested land of deadly traps and merciless foes.
As battle begins, Varus’ army is swiftly destroyed. Trapped in the forest, the soldier must band together with a small group of survivors who neither trust nor believe in him. If they fight together they have a slim chance of staying alive. But which side is the soldier on?
There is a non-bloody Speesh Reads Blood Forest Pinterest board with lots of pictures and links to make your reading of the book even more enjoyable, were that at all possible
Well, what to say? A classic, an unexpected, thrilling classic of Roman period writing. A simply stunning piece of work and easily the best work of Historical Fiction I’ve read about the Teutoberg massacre so far*. Yup! Eat your whatsits out Ben Kane, Blood Forest has you beat for tense, evocative, intriguing, captivating, mysterious, poignant writing any way up you want to measure. If you really want to see how to make a reasonably well written-about event – such as the battle of Teutoburg Forest here – your own, look no further than this.
He takes an unusual angle to come at it from, with the soldier having amnesia and struggling to become apart of the group, not actually wanting to, I should say. Then there is the question of how much, if any, of this amnesia is real? And if it isn’t, what is he afraid of his new comrades discovering about his past? Just where did he come from anyway? Is he actually Roman, that was what I wondered at the start. There are all sorts of fascinatingly tantalising problems swirling around, all handled with a – perhaps I’m being too had – surprisingly deft touch. I say that, because, as you wonder about how the battle scenes can have such a fascinating ring of authenticity, a quick glance at the biography reveals that the author is/was a soldier, ‘deployed on three tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan.’ It is authentic. The language, the repartee is, I can vouch for, authentic. The forest fighting passages could clearly only be written from actual combat experience. It gives them a sharper, truer, much more real feel than the vast majority of the spray of scarlet people. The forest scenes in particular, reminded me of many of the first-hand experiences books I read years ago about American soldiers’ experiences fighting the Viet-Cong in Vietnam.
I know next to nothing about Geraint Jones, but I sure do hope that there’s more from him out there and more top quality Historical Fiction to come.
*I still have Robert Fabbri’s Antonious ‘to good,’ as we say here in Denmark.
**There does seem to be a sequel to Blood Forest, check out the Pinterest link to see its cover